The robots will destroy us all!
29 March 2005
After Andy pointed out the rather spiffy looking site Styleboost I did what any conscientious web developer does and viewed the source. Even though the site generally separates content and style, it got me to wondering whether the code had been produced using a layout program, such as Dreamweaver, or just someone who has no clue about semantics at all.
Given that I haven't opened a webpage layout program in about two years (eschewing them in favour of the far more advanced TextPad), I have no idea about the state of Standards design in them. But drawing from my intimate acquaintance with Dreamweaver 4, I can see how it would be so very easy to just churn out 133 divs, give them unique IDs and style them like it was 1999.
Just over a year ago, Standards was all about getting the graphic designers on board. This, they said, was what was needed in order to show that Web Standards weren't the ugly, boxy cousin to tables. I think we've now shown that Standards can cut it with the best, so now we just wait for it to seep further into the mainstream. Inevitably, that mainstream is going to be WYSIWYG tools and, inevitably, those tools will be used by people who really don't care about semantics. Question is, can Standards survive in the easy-to-use market, or will it remain mostly the domain of code monkeys, or friends of code monkeys?
The Internet is all about freedom of communication, and the ease with which HTML could be produced – in Notepad and in Frontpage – was one of the driving forces behind its popularity. Would Standards-based design tools raise the requirements for access? Given the power of Standards, would most naive users still continue to absolutely position some meaningless <div>s?
Standards might already be living it large amongst the easy-to-use – like I said, I'm not up with WYSIWYG hipness – but I definitely think that if Standards are going to become the dominant mode of development on the Web then they have to be a no-brainer. But hell, I'm OK either way, could just mean that producing good code will pay more.
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