11 Nov 2011

In defence of Semantic Value

After reading some radical thoughts on the perceived importance of semantic value, I thought I will weigh in here with some of my own views on this subject.

I have always been a huge supporter of the get shit done attitude. At the end of the day, the end users interact with your final product, and not with the elegance of your code. However, after having been scarred by plenty of horrid code bases, I am convinced that wasting that 40 minutes as mentioned in the article is worth it (does it really take 4-0-m-i-n-u-t-e-s?) if it’s going to save you (or someone else) a couple more hours somewhere down the line.

To call the semantic value of HTML5 as pointless on account of the current state of accessibility is simply reckless. Perhaps, we should all ditch <DIV>s and simply go back to <TABLE>s because we’re just writing web apps these days anyway, right? Even if adhering to the semantic value of HTML5 has no accessibility or portability benefits, you can’t deny that using the right HTML tags makes your markup much more legible and readable.

Besides, I just don’t see why anyone would be spending 40 minutes on deciding which tag to use when in real life, there are deadlines to meet, and people to answer to. Yes, we sometimes have to compromise on our quality in order to ship a product or feature on time, but we should be acknowledging that as a debt, rather than a conscious decision to abandon quality altogether.

Overall, I’m disappointed to see such a strong one sided post on Smashing Magazine, as I am pretty sure there are many people out there who take whatever that shows up on SM as the holy grail.

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