Tuesday, November 5, 2013

How is Obama's 'A' team tech surge working?

A lot of things are not going to be visible in the fix of the web site.

Some things are arguable when you write a web page. Do you adopt international standards or do you go for de facto standards. Other things, there isn't a lot of argument over. They are just plain errors that never should have passed even the most basic testing before taking the site live.

I noticed yesterday that the ACA exchange website has a number of both types of errors when validated by the World Wide Web Consortium HTML validator. So today, a few details of the 46 errors on the home page. You can see the report in its entirety here.

Here's an example of an error that is just a browser specific bit of web markup.

    <meta content='IE=IE7; IE=IE8; IE=IE9; IE=IE10; IE=edge; chrome=1' http-equiv='X-UA-Compatible'/>
This is put together a little funny. I would expect the http-equiv part to come before the content but that's not a big deal. It's just an Internet Explorer specific tag that doesn't exist in the actual HTML 5 specification so the keepers of the international spec mark that as an error.

This one is the second type. An outright error. The funny thing is that anybody can add a new meta name listing here. The people writing the website just didn't bother doing it. It's not entirely clear what they're trying to do here.
    <meta name='search-title' content="Health Insurance Marketplace" />
Some of the errors are just quickie fixes that should have been fixed the first time somebody did a validation run, like this one which specifies alt-text, twice
    <img alt='Healthcare.gov' class='print-only logo' src='/images/logo.png' alt='Healthcare.gov'/>
This sort of error leads me to believe that after spending literally hundreds of millions of dollars, nobody has ever done a validation run on healthcare.gov's home page even when the thing was falling over all the time and there were obvious problems with the site.

A month into the launch of this, obvious and easy to fix bugs should have been fixed by now. Clearly even the most visible part of this technology project has not had the simple fixes completed.