I told myself I’d stop writing these goddamned things, which take too much time and net me absolutely nothing but a reputation. Nonetheless, the former Greater Toronto Transportation Authority has “rebranded” itself with the most asinine corporate neologism of the year, Metrolinx. (Links? Lynx? Tufts on the ends of the ears? What? And how does that work in French?)

I struggle to find a single thing right with this new site.

  • They’re hopelessly embedded with Microsoft. It’s served with IIS, pages end in .[“asspix”], and – this is a first – the claimed DOCTYPE is given as <HTML xmlns:o="urn:schemas-microsoft-com: office: office" dir="ltr"> (sic; spaces added throughout). What do we have to thank for all this? Sharepoint. From… Microsoft. I defy anyone to prove to me that a truly standards-compliant site can be created solely with Microsoft products.

  • The URLs are insane, viz www.metrolinx.com/NonTabPages/1/ Initiatives/ProvEnvAssProc.[“asspix”]. What’s a NonTabPage? What’s an AssProc? How exactly would I dictate that over the phone?

  • The header graphic confusingly uses upper case (and pictures of text). It seems people are having trouble recognizing the sequence ON Y VA as French. (It’s also a half-arsed translation of the English slogan.)

  • How many tables for layout can a site launched in December 2007 use? 26. How many spacer GIFs? Seven.

  • There’s a “more accessible mode” that does nothing different. There’s a skip-navigation link that appears only when tabbing (HAS FAIL) and is a JavaScript-only link (HAS FAIL).

  • How many images without text equivalents are there? From the text-only view, more than 20. Also in that view, the page begins with these lines:

    • This Web Part is required for the workspace to function properly. It should not be removed.
    • There are no more meeting occurrences to select from.

    “Web Part,” “Web Part”… could that have anything to do with the scattering of made-up elements and attributes on the page, including TOPLEVEL, WebPartID, HasPers, OnlyForMePart, and allowDelete?

  • The title of the page, Home - Metrolinx, errantly uses space-hyphen-space and, in any event, hides the name of the company at the end – invisible in a Windows taskbar or on a crowded row of tabs. (Metrolinx Web developer: “Don’t you mean TabPage?”)

  • Headings look like links. Some links go directly to PDFs without telling you. This is exactly the kind of site that would love to publish absolutely everything as PDF (preferably only as “Word”). Oh, and you can download a PDF “text version” of a video. After you’ve done that, you can “click here” to “participate in the On-Line Public Consultation.”

  • A Web site lodged in the past copyrights itself into the future (“Copyright © Metrolinx 2007 – 2008”).

I could go on. But what I surmise happened is they hired some guy who learned everything he knew about the Web in 1999. He uses nothing but IE6, though he’s heard of “Fire Fox.” He’s so totally embedded in Microsoft that he thinks Macs are toys; top-posts his E-mail in Outlook, all of which is sent as HTML; and thinks everything works fine on his machine, so it simply works fine, end of story. He did read a story once that cripples use the Web, which he can’t quite figure out, because they aren’t competitive in the free and unencumbered market that Microsoft represents. Anyway, he did some checking (with Microsoft Live Search) and put in a few things for those people, who probably can’t ride a commuter train in the first place, so it’s not as though he’s going all out or anything.

This new site cost what, $150,000 including software licences? It doesn’t comply with any accessibility guideline you could name and is, in practice, inaccessible. Who wants to launch a human-rights complaint? Those seem to be turning out well lately.

Memo to TTC: Do the exact opposite of this in every respect.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2007.12.04 16:35. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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