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Chapter Four. XML Conquers the World (An... > Embracing Standards with Transitiona...

Embracing Standards with Transitional Methods

Not all standards compliance demands CSS layout, and not all businesses and institutions that are eager to take advantage of the interoperability provided by web standards need take so advanced a step. Chapter 2 described an interim method of standards compliance blending old and new in a forward-compatible mix, and this method holds appeal for companies or institutions that prefer slow but steady change to evangelical conversion. It's particularly apt for organizations bogged down by a large installed base of old, noncompliant browsers.

The New York Public Library is one such institution, and in 2001, under the leadership of then-web-coordinator Carrie Bickner, The Branch Libraries (www.nypl.org/branch/) of The New York Public Library converted to XHTML 1.0 for markup and a combination of traditional table-based layouts and Cascading Style Sheets for presentation. The library also complies with U.S. Section 508 accessibility guidelines to more effectively reach and serve all its patrons.

Simultaneously with the site's conversion to standards, the library published a style guide (www.nypl.org/styleguide/), co-authored by Bickner and your present scribe, explaining the markup and design requirements for all branch libraries projects, and including a tutorial on XHTML and CSS.

Rather than confine the style guide to the library's internal site, NYPL chose to make it public, in the hope that it would help thousands of designers and developers get up to speed on XHTML and CSS and encourage other institutions to support standards. As of this writing, it appears to be succeeding on both counts.

As they initially fired the imagination of independent designers, standards now inspire institutional designers and developers in the trenches, who correctly see web standards and accessibility as the keys to fulfilling their mandate of reaching and serving all their patrons.

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