The good ol’ crappy days of Web 1.0

There was a time where Drag & Drop code editors were cool. You just had to select your desired visual component on a toolbar and drag it on your form to see it magically appear in all its glory. Wow, Exactly like the old Win32 days… « We can develop for the web without having to learn how the Web actually works! Oh my God it’s too cool! No need to learn that crap they call HTML neither… because we are REAL programmers and thus we don’t have the time to learn these primitive technologies. It’s way cooler to drag & drop a shitty user interface as fast as we can so we can do real event-driven programming. »

Sarcasms asides, the Web had to defend itself against a ferocious win32 invasion. In fact, this dark force almost succeed to kill its true essence, shooting all kind of projectiles at it : Active X, HTML generating code editors, Java Applets, WPF and other “rich” obscure interfaces… but in the end, the Web held its ground and triumphed with its simplicity. CSS, XML, XHTML, Javascript and AJAX fought bravely… and won.

Those who said that the current Web was not modern enough to survive were wrong. They were wrong to think that you couldn’t design fast, pretty and usable user interfaces with only (X)HTML , CSS and Javascript. They underestimated what one could accomplish with these simple technologies. They were simply wrong to think that the Web was wrong.

Today, and you know it, I’m in love with Rails. Why? Because Rails got it right. This framework fully embraces and respects the true essence of the Web. It lets you full control over your HTML (no “Panel” UserControl that creates, depending of your browser, a “div” or a “table” in the resulting HTML without letting you know. Ehm, you know who I’m talking about right?), it also understands and implements the REST nature of the Web. To sum it up : Rails works side by side with the Web, never against it.

I have the certitude that to consider yourself a web developer, you have to know how the web really works and understand each of its components. You cannot say that you are a web developer if you are using Rails but at the same time don’t give a damn about Javascript or proper HTML and CSS. You just can’t, I’m sorry. You take the Web as a whole, or you don’t take it at all.

Yes, this post was biased.

5 thoughts on “The good ol’ crappy days of Web 1.0

  1. Hongli says:

    “CSS, XML, XHTML, Javascript and AJAX fought bravely… and won.”

    Only in the west. In South Korea, ActiveX reigns supreme. Even banking websites and government websites there rely on ActiveX. Firefox is unheard of. I’ve even seen one using Microsoft Vector graphics. (!)
    Asian websites (Chinese, Korean, Japanese) seem to use Flash a lot more than western websites. *A LOT* more.

  2. TD says:

    I think Rails needs more widgets. Ajax widgets to do mundane tasks such as user authentication and authorisation with drag&drop interfaces. We could group common widgets into modules or components. Someone should write a plugin to automatically extract these modules from existing apps. I mean, how hard can it be?

  3. Alex says:

    As a designer, i was shocked by the speed that Frank did some work in Ruby. Way faster than asp.NET and more importantly, it didn’t screw up my CSS and XHTML code. Since my priority was the look and feel of the website I was more than happy about the result. So a big hug to Ruby.

    As for the western market. The cultural aspect of the west made Flash a big plus for their website. South Korea have a wide pool of young gamer, and gamers likes gummy bear interface, fast moving, noisy etc. All that flash have to offer. Here in the dull eastern, we have a wide range of user to please.

    I think that in the future, both market will merge into one. And who knows, maybe Ruby will rock the house…

  4. Alex says:

    Oh great. I forgot about my Gravatar thingy. Darn you Franky boy !

  5. Frank says:

    Alex, you don’t know how much I laughed when I saw this silly gravatar appear beside this otherwise really thoughtful comment of yours… :D

    I’m glad to hear you say that RoR is more designer friendly than .NET was. Thanks for the comment! btw I’m still in love with the design you made for this blog.

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