Web Development

Moving towards standards

I’ve been a web developer for some time now. Since I entered High School, way back in late 1998. Since then times have changed, saw the bubble of free ISP’s who thought ads would pay for everything, to becoming a free ISP myself. One movement that’s really been large in my mind has been the move towards standards. Allow me to explain.

It used to be a webmaster was one of either two ways. You either used an editor like Go LIve, Dreamweaver, or Claris Homepage (remember that beauty with it’s amazing table builder). Or you were a toolsmith who made a script to help build your site. Either way, your website was a proprietary mess of HTML, perhaps a javascript, and a backend of ugliness. I couldn’t stand it. I’m a little bit compulsive. That’s why I like Apple products. Clean, great UI, integrated, functional. Everything the web wasn’t.

Fast forward to now:

Now I’m a web developer working on a few projects, including a new venture (won’t discuss much details at this time). What’s life like now:

PHP for serverside development. Using Smarty as a templating engine, and PEAR::Package::DB. All my output in new Apps is moving closer and closer to XHTML 1.0 Strict.

What’s my advantage in all this? Is it as complex as days of old, just new products? Absolutely not.

  1. I use PHP because it works on many platforms. I prefer UNIX (Linux or Mac OS X), but it also works fine on Solaris, or Windows. Making sure my bases are covered.
  2. Smarty makes it easy to update my interface without touching my app. That makes life much easier.
  3. PEAR::Package::DB allows me to have a layer of abstraction between my app and the database. This makes transitioning in the future to a new platform much easier. Also saves me trouble.
  4. My output is as close to strict as possible these days because it’s quicker to template. Templating tag soup is a giant mess. Anyone whose done it knows. Strict is much easier to do. Not to mention the more I control with CSS, the faster I can make changes in the future.
  5. Another advantage of all this is performance. PHP is fast, Smarty Caches to keep performance. PEAR DB is pretty zippy as well. By going XHTML strict and using CSS as much as possible, I’m cutting bandwidth, and making pages download faster.

I’m personally of the belief the golden age of the internet hasn’t quite dawned. That will happen when my PDA is as useful as my computer, Email is without problems (spam/viruses), and platform is irrelevant. When the web can feel like an application. Were moving in that direction, but not there yet. Less and less websites are “PC only”, or “IE 5 only”. Much more neutrality thanks to things like Mozilla’s Evangelism work. Not perfect, but better. The web can feel more like an application with XUL, though adoption levels aren’t quite there yet. Email is still a disaster though. Hopefully SpamAssassin 3.0 will be out soon.

The web has improved IMHO. But I’m convinced the next few years will continue to be just as interesting as years gone by. Lets get coding and enjoy the show…

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