Thursday, May 13, 2010

Quick check of a developer’s HTML skills

Today, I got pinged to offer some comments on two developers who both coded up one equivalent page as an evaluation of their skills. The question is how to determine their relative skill levels. One approach is to read code and see if they happen to use the style that you like – but that is quasi-nepotism. You may not hire someone with a better style because you just don’t realize it. You will inbreed a specific coding style…

 

I decided to do push all of the pages through various validation engines. The logic is simple --- someone that codes close to standard is likely the more experienced in conforming to standards and best practices. So I pushed the pages through the URLs below and got the results shown below.

 

URL Dev #1 Dev#2
http://jigsaw.w3.org/css-validator/ 9 errors
5 warnings
1 error
http://validator.w3.org/ 0 Errors 50 errors
http://validator.w3.org/mobile/ 35% 41%
http://wave.webaim.org/ 0 Errors 2 Errors
http://www.contentquality.com/ 0 Errors 2 Errors
1 Warning
http://www.totalvalidator.com/ 1 Error 18 Errors

 

Dev #1 is clearly much stronger with CSS be a potential weakness. Given that several of the above are Section 508 validators – Dev #1 knows what it takes to pass Section 508.

 

I’m tempted to suggest a final interview question when I interview folks.  “Create a page that…. and email me the code within 24 hours….” Then just grind the code through the above…. and create a table of all of the candidates.

 

I suspect that the advantage would be:

  • Less time needed to ramp up an individual to a given quality
  • Filtering out people less likely to follow practices – for some it may be laziness, for others it may a lack of self-discipline or an over-entitlement attitude.  Identifying this is very hard to do in an interview.

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