A pitiful excuse for a "professional" web developer



Opinion with David Emberton

Web standards. They’re big, dumb, and they don’t work. Yet, they persist. Why?

Communist radicals got a bad rap in the 20th century because they wanted to take over the world and brainwash everybody. More efficient, they said. More humane, they claimed. A better way to run things, so they thought.

These days, the rebel youth aren’t so busy admiring Marx as they are giving each other tutorials on how to use XHTML Strict. Bravely battling JavaScript menus and eradicating layout tables, admonishing us to “please think of the children” and design our pages so they’re compatible with the handhelds of next century. Same conformist thinking, same lousy outcome.

According to the Web Standards Project, the world needs this stuff because it’s simpler, more affordable and available to all. Oh really? Could it be that they’re just ideas cooked up by a bunch of overpaid intellectuals? Whatever happened to trial by market, or supply and demand? Painful questions, perhaps, but let’s face it — when innovation has slowed to the point that tabbed browsing is a headline feature, it’s time to put down that Jonestown Sling.

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) are a classic example of the madness. Reared in a cubicle somewhere, they’re pitched as the pinnacle of document styling. CSS are public, free and future-proof. Sounds great until you realise that: a) you need a degree to understand them; b) Microsoft doesn’t care about them; and c) they suck. What’s more, CSS have been promoted as “the future” since the mid-90s, and by now the only thing keeping them alive is a steady stream of guilt and the occasional Movable Type installation.

While XHTML and CSS have been at least moderately successful, many other W3C recommendations have failed to gain any traction. It’s these lesser creations like SMIL, MathML and SVG that really demonstrate the flaws in the group-think process. Not to mention the 20 other projects that no-one even discusses.

However, this doesn’t seem to discourage the advocates. The problem of saving the world from browser competition has mostly disappeared, but no matter. Standards cronies have now latched on to the disabled — the starving African children of high technology — for leverage. Spend time reading A List Apart, and you’ll soon get the impression that accessibility is bigger than cancer, and we’re all about to go blind and lose our mouse-bearing limbs. The solution? Web standards!

I too was once seduced by the dream of an XML utopia, complete with vision-impaired people frolicking in the meadows. I too spent nights deciphering the box model, and polishing my shrine to Tim Berners-Lee.

But now I’m fed up. I want the browser wars back. I want to use Flash and PDF (you know, technologies that work) without being accused of bourgeois elitism. Is it really so important to make our Web sites phone-compatible? PDA-compatible? Safe for the flat-footed? No. All that matters is the desire to communicate, and the ability to steal any good thing that gets invented. Like Sputnik.

David Emberton is a professional Web developer, author of Flash 4 Magic and Flash 5 Magic, and regular APC contributor.

This guy sounds like he still uses IE 4. Why would anyone in their right mind hire someone like this? He's obviously clueless about section 508, and cross platform computability. :rolleyes:

CSS is rocket science? You need a degree to understand it? Jesus, high schoolers are creating awesome designs using xHTML and CSS. Way to be an ignorant, and bitter dinosaur.

I like how he all but says "IE will just create a new proprietary standard, so don't bother learning CSS anyway." Flash and PDF? You'd rather use content that isn't indexable by search engines and that requires high bandwidth, or long load times? He'd rather use this over semantic, small and scalable standards compliant design? Way to go...

On a lighter note, Microsoft has recently updated a number of their sites, including MSN, to be standards compliant.


Original Dicksman
That guy is a professional? If dudes like that can hold a job as a devoloper, then whenever someone finally gives me an interview, they'll think I'm a genius!! :thumbsup:


Martha Fuckin' Stewart
I would love to see one of mr. Emberton's professional sites. I think one of the comments summed it up best.

Standards aren't required? The only reason the Internet works is *because* of standards. Imagine a 'Net without them - how many flavours of FTP would you like? Can you imagine a world where you need ten separate email apps because there isn't a standard for email?