A Proposal To Keep Sites Better Updated

18th March 2004 · Last updated: 5th October 2016


When information on a subject is updated, such as when a software bug is fixed, or a new program version comes out, the webmaster will probably not think to update his site immediately. For instance, Opera 7 has finally been released on the Mac. Although Windows users have enjoyed it over several versions, Mac users have been limited to Opera 6 until now. So imagine a website that said this:

Opera 7 is sadly not available for the Mac.

Clearly, the information is now out of date. If it is not updated, the visitor will soon see the site as offering misinformation. Over time the problem will accentuate, leading to a feeling that the site is no longer worth visiting. This is, of course, something I don't want to happen on my site or elsewhere. So I've conceived a possible solution.

Approach One

Text that's likely to be updated due to future developments could be marked up using a simple span, like so:

<span class="noted">The Beagle 2 Mars probe has yet to be found.</span>

No special formatting should be applied to the span - the class is there merely to enable the author to find it on a page. (The author might wish to temporarily add formatting though, such as a red text colour, to help him or her to find the right line visually.)

A database might then be constructed containing a list of all the pages with the 'noted' span on. The text can then easily be updated. I thought of using anchors for this, to give a unique address for each span, but that would require code like <span id="noted" name="noted">, and you can't have more than one id with the same name on a page.

Approach Two

To save on markup, perhaps a custom tag would be a better solution, as in the example here:

<noted date="18March2004">The Beagle 2 Mars probe has yet to be found.</noted>

This gives us the possibility of adding attributes such as the date. Again a database could be used to list all occurences of the tag.

Using a special tag requires XHTML along with a dedicated DTD. At least one site I know has successfully done this on their Libraries section, without the need to resort to raw XML, which would require parsing first. The drawback is that custom tags don't have any effect in IE. But since we're not styling them, that needn't matter at all here.

Now all I need to know is what people think of my proposal. Is it a good idea? Is there a better way you can think of to achieve it? Let me know via the comments link below. Thanks.

Comments (2)

Comments are locked on this topic. Thanks to everyone who posted a comment.

  1. Moose:
    In Opera, you can use Notes to annotate web pages you intend to update. In Dreamweaver, you can use Design Notes.

    There are date-enabled tags in html (ins, del), but I am not sure they would be applicable here.

    As far as MOoSe browsers are concerned, it' enough to check the site in the newest version. It is the IE user base who do not update their browsers. Is it so much to do? Not everyone has a Mac, true, but PC users can make use of Safari 1.2 online capture tool, and Opera 7.5 for mac has the same engine as the PC versions, so you don't need to bother. Same for Gecko. This means that except the browser you are using, and abstracting from IE, you need to keep only one extra browser installed, and check your pages in it.

    Of course, one is one too many for too many...


    Posted on 19 March 2004 at 8:42 am
  2. John (Utopiate):
    Chris, you need to drop in to the Shodown board and say hello to us all. Cheers Chris.

    - John

    Posted on 22 March 2004 at 1:30 am