HealthCare.gov Still Fails Basic HTML Check

Post here if your message doesn't fit into another forum but is still about web development. Includes site critiques, web hosting and server questions, helpful software and resources, and more.
Post Reply
User avatar
Albert Wiersch
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 3222
Joined: Sat Dec 11, 2004 9:23 am
Location: Near Dallas, TX
Contact:

HealthCare.gov Still Fails Basic HTML Check

Post by Albert Wiersch » Fri Oct 11, 2013 8:36 pm

The HealthCare.gov site has been a hot topic in the US as the country attempts to have a non-dysfunctional individual health insurance market.

Reports are that the system cost more than $400 million. One would not expect such an expensive system to suffer from simple and easily fixable problems.

We decided to run the main page of the site through http://www.OnlineWebCheck.com/.

You can see the results here:
http://www.onlinewebcheck.com/check.php ... hcare.gov/

There are some (many?) obvious and easy-to-fix issues:

Code: Select all

<meta name="twitter:url" ontent="HealthCare.gov"/>
Used "ontent" instead of "content".

Code: Select all

<img alt='Healthcare.gov' class='print-only logo' src='/images/logo.png' alt='Healthcare.gov'/>
Used the "alt" attribute twice. Also, many other attributes are used more than once throughout the document.

Code: Select all

<a href='/' title='Healthcare.gov' class='icon mobile-logo ' href='/'>Healthcare.gov</a>
Used the "href" attribute twice. Also, many other attributes are used more than once throughout the document.

Code: Select all

<li class='nav-btn'>
Used the "li" element where it's not in an element that can contain it (like "ol" and "ul").

Code: Select all

<button type='image' class='btn btn-blue btn-search' value='search' src='/images/invisible.png'>
The "type" attribute has an invalid value "image" and the "src" attribute is invalid for "button". [line 126]

Code: Select all

<a type='button' class='btn btn-large btn-green left' href='/marketplace/individual'>Apply Now</a>
The "type" attribute has an invalid value "button". It should (when used with the "a" element) specify a valid MIME type. [line 605]

Code: Select all

<span id='left' class='icon arrow' href='#' tabindex='-1'>
There's no "href" attribute for "span". [line 624]

And there are other issues as well.

Such errors in websites call into question the quality of the rest of the site. Many of these problems can easily be found and then fixed using a tool like CSE HTML Validator.

Of course HealthCare.gov is certainly not the only site that has design quality issues. Many websites, even those with large budgets, still fail to check their markup with a tools like HTML validators and CSS checkers. It's often not that hard to address many of the issues that come up, such as the ones listed above.

My offer to HealthCare.gov is to contact me, say they saw this topic, and I will donate a FREE CSE HTML Validator license to help them fix & improve the HealthCare.gov website.

Image
Image
Albert Wiersch

User avatar
Lou
Rank V - Professional
Rank V - Professional
Posts: 246
Joined: Fri Jul 29, 2005 5:55 pm
Location: CO
Contact:

Re: HealthCare.gov Fails Basic HTML Check

Post by Lou » Mon Oct 21, 2013 1:38 pm

The saga goes on. They talk about 500 million lines of code. It sounds like the html errors visible on the screen don't begin to address the functional issues in the backroom!
NY Times 21 Oct 13
Lou
Say what you will about Sisyphus. He always has work.

User avatar
Albert Wiersch
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 3222
Joined: Sat Dec 11, 2004 9:23 am
Location: Near Dallas, TX
Contact:

Re: HealthCare.gov Fails Basic HTML Check

Post by Albert Wiersch » Mon Oct 21, 2013 1:44 pm

I read that too... 500 million lines of code? Is that really necessary? The more bloat, the more bugs and the harder to fix and maintain. Also, it's hard for me to imagine that much code (I don't think I can). I wonder how accurate that figure really is.

The simple HTML issues are only the tip of the iceberg, but it definitely make me wonder what the rest of the iceberg looks like if they can't get the basic HTML right.
Image
Albert Wiersch

User avatar
Lou
Rank V - Professional
Rank V - Professional
Posts: 246
Joined: Fri Jul 29, 2005 5:55 pm
Location: CO
Contact:

Re: HealthCare.gov Fails Basic HTML Check

Post by Lou » Mon Oct 21, 2013 3:08 pm

It is a sad commentary on commercial software writing in general and government contracting practices. Admittedly the "government" code I was involved in writing and validating was a different size and function, some of the same practices obviously should apply to any code other than maybe a onetime peace of code. Of course a programmer's worst nightmare is a peace of "onetime" code that goes live.

What ever happened to using a validator? or assembler, compiler? It does nothing for the logic or functionality but at least the syntax is correct.

Back in the dark-ages, when we wrote code on stone, the order of the day was peer review. On my last project, we had teams of 2 programmers working on areas of the code; each member would write a module and testing it. Then the other coder would review the code and test it again. When They thought it was ready, I would review/test it again checking limits, out of range variables, the interface, the documentation and the design. When we though functional units were ready they were turned over to the government, where it would get reviewed/tested again. All this before all the peaces were put together and tested again.

Being the hardware was being developed in parallel with the software, any hardware interface was in separate modules, so it could be changed as the hardware changed ~~ in good top down design practice.

In a later life I was a contractor helping with the government review and testing. At that point all the review and testing was repeated making sure the documentation reflect the code, and the code meet the requirement.

But I preach to the choir.
Lou
Say what you will about Sisyphus. He always has work.

User avatar
MikeGale
Rank VI - Professional
Rank VI - Professional
Posts: 699
Joined: Mon Dec 13, 2004 1:50 pm
Location: Tannhauser Gate

Re: HealthCare.gov Fails Basic HTML Check

Post by MikeGale » Mon Oct 21, 2013 7:14 pm

My understanding is that the bureaucracy was arguing over the specification for two years or more. No work got started. Then there were specification change (really basic stuff) even in the weeks before the so called launch.

People who kept a professional eye on milestones actually achieved, said it had no chance of working.

It apparently forces users to come in through "layers". The next layer isn't tested till the previous is proven. A great way to guarantee a long commissioning.

It may be that the system is actually making health care worse. Good offerings are going away as the bureaucratic edifice takes over. See http://j.mp/1h1tAgX for a recent take on that.

Now there's a panic I wouldn't be surprised if hordes of criminally ignorant people are extremely busy making it worse.
Important projects may be virtually guaranteed failure by the involvement of the criminally ignorant.

User avatar
Gamecock
Rank 0 - Newcomer
Rank 0 - Newcomer
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Oct 06, 2010 4:55 pm
Location: Summerville
Contact:

Re: HealthCare.gov Fails Basic HTML Check

Post by Gamecock » Thu Oct 24, 2013 8:52 am

Albert,

The Feds desperately need a copy of CSE HTML Validator Pro sent to Washington DC as part of the "Tech Surge" to help get the HealthCare.gov site fixed. To see so many simple to fix issues still remaining on the site's Home Page WEEKS after it opened is downright shocking. Perhaps, if you donated just ONE Enterprise Edition copy of your amazing program, this could be your big chance for your 15 minutes of worldwide fame! :wink:

For those that missed all the "tech surge" quotes on TV, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said on NBC’s Meet the Press officials are "working around the clock to fix the problems". He suggested something to the effect that the best and brightest web programmers should all be picked up from Silicon Valley in one 747 and flown to Washington, D.C. to attack the website problems. He also announced the White House would stage an event (last) Monday to discuss how to remedy problems with the exchanges. YOU should've been contacted if they truly wanted the #1 website repair expert!

Seriously, you may have a window of oppourtunity to get some national exposure for your Online Web Check website and CSE HTML Validator Pro.

Do you need a bunch of us (your many fans) to demand you or your program be sent to Washington? If so, I volunteer to lead the charge to do so.

Quote from: http://venturebeat.com/2013/10/20/healt ... LsCHh6w.99

User avatar
Albert Wiersch
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 3222
Joined: Sat Dec 11, 2004 9:23 am
Location: Near Dallas, TX
Contact:

Re: HealthCare.gov Fails Basic HTML Check

Post by Albert Wiersch » Thu Oct 24, 2013 9:47 am

Thanks Gamecock!

I agree they could desperately use a license of CSE HTML Validator! One doesn't even need to be "the best and the brightest" to use it :mrgreen: . By all means, please lead the charge to demand they use it as part of their "major repairs".

I'd be more than willing to donate a license to them in return for some publicity. Many websites could benefit from it, not just HealthCare.gov. :D

Of course the HTML & CSS is just the top layer, but there's just no excuse for such basic problems that can easily be found and corrected.
Image
Albert Wiersch

User avatar
Lou
Rank V - Professional
Rank V - Professional
Posts: 246
Joined: Fri Jul 29, 2005 5:55 pm
Location: CO
Contact:

Re: HealthCare.gov Fails Basic HTML Check

Post by Lou » Thu Oct 24, 2013 10:35 am

I fear HealthCare.gov has/will continue to fall pray to the "The Mythical Man-Month". An old concept (1975?) but still valid.

Comments like a "Tech Surge" and a '747 full of software engineers' demonstrate that some managers still have not grasp Brooks' insight into the management of large software projects. As I heard someone talking about this problem quip, '9 women can not make a baby in one month.'
Lou
Say what you will about Sisyphus. He always has work.

User avatar
Albert Wiersch
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 3222
Joined: Sat Dec 11, 2004 9:23 am
Location: Near Dallas, TX
Contact:

Re: HealthCare.gov Fails Basic HTML Check

Post by Albert Wiersch » Thu Oct 24, 2013 10:52 am

Lou wrote:As I heard someone talking about this problem quip, '9 women can not make a baby in one month.'
Thanks. I'll have to remember that one. :)

To refresh people's memory:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mythical_Man-Month
Image
Albert Wiersch

User avatar
Gamecock
Rank 0 - Newcomer
Rank 0 - Newcomer
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Oct 06, 2010 4:55 pm
Location: Summerville
Contact:

Re: HealthCare.gov Fails Basic HTML Check

Post by Gamecock » Thu Oct 24, 2013 12:56 pm

I have a good contact to possibly get a national wire story about errors in the healthcare.gov site going to give you some national (and international) publicity. An old college friend of mine from The University of South Carolina is Maggie Fox is THE Health editor for Reuters News Service in Washington, DC.! I worked with her at WUSC-FM (campus radio station) when she was our News Director and I was Chief Announcer (later Program Director). Anyhow, she is a Gamecock too. :o

[Later...]

Check that, Maggie now works as a Health reporter for NBC News in their Washington DC bureau. I've found her name in a story on the healthCare.gov website as well. I'll post it below for you to see.

http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/10 ... llout?lite

While trying to find her new phone number at NBC, I talked to the Washington DC NBC TV Affiliate and gave him the idea for a story as a news tip. It's probably too hard of a concept to put on a TV news screen, but you never know... FWIW, he did thank me for calling and said "I appreciate the scoop".

I now have Maggie's correct email address. If you want to follow up, just let me know.

Best regards,

Bob

User avatar
Albert Wiersch
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 3222
Joined: Sat Dec 11, 2004 9:23 am
Location: Near Dallas, TX
Contact:

Re: HealthCare.gov Fails Basic HTML Check

Post by Albert Wiersch » Thu Oct 24, 2013 1:10 pm

Hi Bob,

Thanks. I appreciate it!

Sure, I wouldn't mind contacting Maggie and seeing if I can help with any of her stories, research, or contributions. Can you PM me her email address?

I understand that such news should not be too technical, but something simple like "when the HealthCare.gov web address was given to an online HTML checking service, it reported some very basic HTML errors that should never have made it to the public site".

I'm not sure how the story would plug http://www.OnlineWebCheck.com/ or CSE HTML Validator specifically, but it would be nice if the story was able to mention it somewhere. I'm fine with the broader picture though - that HealthCare.gov, as well as many other sites, even high-budget sites, don't pay enough attention to easily findable and fixable HTML & CSS issues. And when they don't do that, you really have to wonder about the rest of the system, especially the part you can't see.
Image
Albert Wiersch

User avatar
Gamecock
Rank 0 - Newcomer
Rank 0 - Newcomer
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Oct 06, 2010 4:55 pm
Location: Summerville
Contact:

Re: HealthCare.gov Fails Basic HTML Check

Post by Gamecock » Thu Oct 24, 2013 1:47 pm

I told the NBC TV news reporter how anyone could see the many (embarrassing) errors and warnings found for just the home page of the healthcare.gov web site by using your http://www.onlinewebcheck.com site. And, that the designer of the software behind it (who I called a "brilliant programmer") was willing to donate a copy of the Enterprise Edition as part of the Federal "tech surge". When I mentioned how the word "content" is now misspelled (and it has remained like that for weeks now), he got the story idea. Of course, if he's an Obama defender, he might ignore this story idea or post it into "File 13".

Seriously, you should consider doing a major press release (possibly through help at PRWeb) that you are willing to contribute to help in the "tech surge". It could explain all errors/warnings with the HealthCare.gov site, your program (+ OnlineWebCheck.com) and the basic errors and warnings contained within. NOW would be an ideal time for such a story and the timing could pay off for you BIG! Why NOT strike while the iron is (Red) HOT? I sent Maggie's private work email by text to your phone, so you have that now. :D

Here's the PRWeb press release pricing plan:

http://service.prweb.com/pricing/

Google for "PRWeb coupon code" to save at least $50 before you check out. :wink:

Asking 1 reporter to make you a star isn't enough. A press release going out to LOTS of reporters would give you a much greater chance of success.
Last edited by Gamecock on Thu Oct 24, 2013 2:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Gamecock
Rank 0 - Newcomer
Rank 0 - Newcomer
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Oct 06, 2010 4:55 pm
Location: Summerville
Contact:

Re: HealthCare.gov Fails Basic HTML Check

Post by Gamecock » Thu Oct 24, 2013 2:01 pm

For those not familiar with the phrase "File 13" (which has been used for many years - not just this year), here's a link about that.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File_13

Mostly a US military thing? Evidently, in the UK they will call it the "circular file" - which refers to the roundness of the trash can. :lol:

User avatar
Albert Wiersch
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 3222
Joined: Sat Dec 11, 2004 9:23 am
Location: Near Dallas, TX
Contact:

Re: HealthCare.gov Fails Basic HTML Check

Post by Albert Wiersch » Thu Oct 24, 2013 3:23 pm

Hi Bob,

Thanks. The press release idea is certainly interesting and I'm thinking about it. It's also interesting that I went to that page in Firefox and the pricing didn't show up. HealthCare.gov is certainly not the only broken site around. It did work in IE however.

Can you send me Maggie's email via private message? I can't get text messages at the company phone #.
Image
Albert Wiersch

User avatar
Albert Wiersch
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 3222
Joined: Sat Dec 11, 2004 9:23 am
Location: Near Dallas, TX
Contact:

Re: HealthCare.gov Fails Basic HTML Check

Post by Albert Wiersch » Sat Jan 18, 2014 1:29 pm

I checked healthcare.gov again today and it still has many HTML issues, but at least major progress has been made getting the major kinks out so people can use the site and buy health insurance. Also, I noticed that they fixed the "ontent" attribute by changing it to "content", although it did seem to take a long time to get that simple error corrected.
Image
Albert Wiersch

Post Reply