SimonCox.com

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Nibbler

by Simon Cox

2010-02-09

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Nibbler

Online testing suites are a very useful way of checking your website to see if it's up to scratch. I take you through Nibbler from Silktide.

Online testing tool that checks out how your website measures up

I have been evan­ge­lis­ing web stan­dards for quite a few years now and tools that help you test your work are very appre­ci­at­ed and make the tasks a lot eas­i­er. For pure code there is the W3C test­ing suite that tells you where your code is invalid and gives good hints on what to change — though I can imag­ine it could be frus­trat­ing for peo­ple rel­a­tive­ly new to html. W3C also do CSS and feed val­ida­tors. How­ev­er by far my favourite test­ing tool is cur­rent­ly Nib­bler from Silk­tide. Sev­er­al years ago Silk­tide released a cut down on-line ver­sion of its com­mer­cial ser­vice called Sitescore but they were very quick­ly over­whelmed with peo­ple test­ing out sites and there real empha­sis had to go back to the com­mer­cial tool and the free ser­vice was demised. Sitescore has now mor­phed into Sit­eR­ay and ver­sion 4 is on the way. Some­how they have man­aged to do a small side project of anoth­er cut down ver­sion of their test­ing suite — this time they have named it Nibbler.

Nib­bler tests a web­site across a large range of auto­mat­ed tests. Auto­mat­ed means that they are not per­fect but will take you most of the way there which is a very good start and more than most even think about.

You just put the URL into the test field and press the test but­ton and a minute or two lat­er you have the score.
As of the 9th of Feb­ru­ary 2010 this site, simon​cox​.com, is scor­ing 7.9 out of 10 — and that’s pret­ty good — veer​le​.duoh​.com, alistapart​.com and www​.w3​.org all have the same score so I am in good com­pa­ny. www​.silk​tide​.com is only 0.1 points ahead and they are the experts.

Nib­bler runs the fol­low­ing tests:
Trust­wor­thi­ness
Social media
Pop­u­lar­i­ty
Incom­ing links
URL for­mat
Images
Inof­fen­sive con­tent
Ana­lyt­ics
Alter­na­tive text
Titles
Head­ings
Links
Meta tags
Print­abil­i­ty
Feeds
W3C com­pli­ance

and the report will give you some good clues on what’s wrong and how to fix. I will point out that this is cur­rent­ly in alpha but I have raised a cou­ple of issues with them on Get Sat­is­fac­tion and they have respond­ed very quick­ly. For exam­ple yes­ter­day on one site was doing very bad­ly for feeds so I rebuilt the feed and added the meta tags so that it could be found. The report said that although it had found the feed it had not been updat­ed for over a month — I had 10 new items in the feed for the last 8 days so some­thing was wrong. Andy from Silk­tide spot­ted that I had used the Dublin Core date stamp which was per­fect­ly valid but Nib­bler was not detect­ing it so he fixed it same day — splendid.

I am sure a lot of peo­ple will get frus­trat­ed with the ini­tial scores from Nib­bler but with a bit of patience and under­stand­ing what’s going on you can real­ly improve your web­site. Not every­one will agree with some of the tests Nib­bler uses but if every site was test­ed against this or sim­i­lar tools then the web would be a much bet­ter place.

Nib­bler can be found at http://​nib​bler​.silk​tide​.com


Note: I have no affil­i­a­tion with Silk­tide but in my day job I do use the full blown ver­sion of Sit­eR­ay to test the web­sites I work on. Nib­bler I use for my per­son­al websites.

And there is more...

19 August 2010
I have just tidied up some of the html on the site — now ful­ly val­i­dates and the site is get­ting a Nib­bler score of 9.2 — very pleased with that and I find the site at no. 54 on the Top 100 on the Nib­bler top 100 chart — sure it won’t stay there for long but its an achievement!

23 August 2010
I have made a few more minor adjust­ments to the site and its now up to a 9.4 rat­ing putting the site 7th on the Nib­bler top 100 at the moment!

7th on Nibbler.com

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