What I’ve Hated and What I’ve Loved About Web Development
Post from September 30, 2015 (↻ June 7, 2021), filed under Web Development.
In On Web Development and in other contexts I’ve alluded to wrapping up, ending my old career. That’s only correct to an extent.
What’s correct is that my focus is on philosophy and politics now. What’s incorrect about my current status is that I’ll keep working on a number of tech projects, will keep contributing to a couple of lists and standards, and will listen to exciting projects that seek my experience and ideas.
Even though I won’t announce my industry retirement just yet, here are some observations from 16 years in web development, almost from the Web’s infancy, to today. I figured I better get a few notes down to paper—if I’m tinkering around for another 16 years I can amend the lists later. Maybe you find some things in here you’ve hated or loved about our field, too.
What I’ve Hated
- Table layouts.
- Spacer GIFs.
- WYSIWYG editors (although, or because, I started with Dreamweaver—in 1999).
- Any editor that’s not vi or IntelliJ (or perhaps Sublime).
- Conditional Comments. (To me they’re a sign of not understanding HTML.)
- Resets and normalizers. (To me they’re a sign of not understanding CSS.)
- Variables and mixins. (They have a place but originated in using CSS in a… very particular fashion.)
- Unnecessary complexity.
- No understanding of tailoring.
- No understanding of iterating.
- Feature creep.
- People who confuse apps and docs.
- People who make things too complicated.
- Software developers who think they’re web developers.
- That everybody thinks they’re a web designer or developer.
- That everybody thinks they’re a good web designer or developer (perhaps including myself at times).
- A lot of pretending.
- Armchair standardistas.
- Poor discussion culture.
- That tendency to jump on bandwagons.
- That tendency to be different for the sake of being different.
- No halting to optimize standards, techniques, methods.
- “You can means you should.”
- Barely any CSS-only redesigns.
- Bloated standards.
- Dead standards.
- A List Apart (
maybe because we never got to work together).
- 24 Ways (both sides had too much attitude).
- MySpace (especially around 2006, when it was the epitome of poor design and code).
- Fake or promo comments (pleading guilty, too).
- Zeldman’s Designing with Web Standards. (Envy?)
- XHTML (yes).
- Ad code.
- My past code!
- Chasing 404s.
- Maintaining manually.
- Internet Explorer.
- Firefox (too slow).
- Some working groups.
- Writing and being lectured by biased reviewers.
- That not more people followed my always sound advice 😬
What I’ve Loved
- The creativity.
- The possibilities.
- The many opportunities.
- The many people who had no idea about what they were doing (often enough including myself).
- The many idealists.
- The many great people.
- The many brilliant people (particularly Ian).
- The many brilliant and difficult people (notably Joe).
- The rising stars (whether Anne back ten years ago or Harry now).
- Eric Meyer and Håkon Wium Lie.
- And more.
- The many great like-minded people.
- The mind-boggling spectacle, good and bad, of lazy people becoming inventive.
- Anything goes (and reining in the ones who believe that!).
- How serious people take themselves.
- Public technical debates leading to excess, exhaustion, oblivion.
- Quality control.
- Optional tags.
- Contributing to a still young industry and profession.
- Pro bono work.
- The idea behind XHTML 2.0.
- Minimal code.
- Good code!
- My present code (vision, idea). Um.
- Information design.
- Proofreading, editing, proofreading again and still finding errors later (that’s why).
- Designing and coding 404 pages that get millions of hits a day.
- The few interviews I gave.
- Firefox when it was Phoenix.
- The WHATWG.
- Also the W3C!
- Coding by hand.
- Maintaining manually.
- Writing frameworks.
- Writing coding guidelines.
- Writing about web development for a career.
- Writing provocatively!
- Writing and being lectured by competent editors.
- My readers, the ones who have supported me and my work, and put up with some most horrible English.
I contemplated pumping more points into this for spectacle, and refrained. As I said, I’m still in the field, and I’m sure there’ll be more things to love-hate about web development. See you around.
I’m Jens Oliver Meiert, and I’m an engineering manager and author. I’ve worked as a technical lead for Google, I’m close to the W3C and the WHATWG, and I write and review books for O’Reilly. Other than that, I love trying things, sometimes including philosophy, art, and adventure. Here on meiert.com I share some of my views and experiences.
If you have questions or suggestions about what I write, please leave a comment (if available) or a message.
Can you expand on why you hated Zeldman’s book?
This one made me laugh, but it’s just so true: “Software developers who think they’re web developers.”
Hate it or love it, Dreamweaver fixed most of the table layouts and spacer gif issues for me. I STILL use it for email templates :3
You put Joe Clark of all people in your loved column?? Are you off your meds? I would think that vicious man belongs in all the categories pseudo, troll, and if anyone did.
Have a look at the most popular posts, possibly including:
- The Problem of “Fire and Forget” in Web Design
- Media: The Choice Between Misinformation and Uninformation
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Perhaps my most comprehensive book: The Web Development Glossary (2020). With explanations and definitions for literally thousands of terms from Web Development and related fields, building on Wikipedia as well as the MDN Web Docs. Available at Apple Books, Kobo, Google Play Books, and Leanpub.