Christopher T. Miller

A Simpler Web


“There’s a key component of the original vision of Tim Berners-Lee’s Web that I glossed over, and one that may very well be at risk of fading away; HTML was designed to be written by people. Not programmers. Not programs. Not compilers. People. Actual, ordinary, every day people like the scientists at CERN, the cat lover in their basement, the burgeoning young author with controversial ideas, or the oppressed political activist fighting for freedom. People who have better and more important things to do than keep up to date with the latest hipster devstack trending on Hacker News. People for whom Twitter being blocked in their country or going down is more than a simple inconvenience.

“This was the whole point of the World Wide Web. Anybody could participate in content creation and it didn’t require any fancy tools, compilers, frameworks, IDE’s, social media accounts, private web services, closed-source software, or college degrees.”

Mark’s article about how we got where we are, and where we are going in the realm of web development is excellent. I remember much of what he is talking about, Mosaic, the browser wars, the rise Firefox, then Chrome, then the vary world of JavaScript frameworks.

I’ll admit, I got off the front-end bus when it became a apparent that AJAX was going to be the wave of the future. It seemed like an overly complex way to refresh a page to compensate for slowness on the backend which could be addressed with better caching and optimization of performance behind the scenes.

Now we’ve trained the public to expect what various JavaScript frameworks and libraries provide. In fact, based on the information about React and Flux shared by Mark, we’ve made sure that working on the web, just getting content out there, requires advanced skills – which is absurd.

Can we do without? Should we find our way to something simpler, something more accessible?

I think we can. By simplifying our sites we achieve greater reach, better performance, and more reliable conveying of the information which is at the core of any website. I think we are seeing this in the uptick of passionate conversations around user experience, but it cannot stop with the UX team. Developers need to take ownership for the complexity they add to the Web. Just because you CAN abstract away the browser (seriously, Facebook?) doesn’t mean that it’s the best thing for the web development ecosystem.

I’m looking forward to learning more about progressive web apps, which to chart a course between my “shake the fist at the sky” views and the glitzy glam of SPAs and Web 2+ sensibilities.

(thanks to Bridget Stewart for sharing)

#development   #web   #simplicity