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Remember and ?

yvesgurcan profile image Yves Gurcan Originally published at link.Medium ・2 min read

Do you remember the first website you wrote? Mine was a fanpage about Doom II. Yep. That was over 20 years ago.

I used an IDE called NVU when I started getting my hands dirty with HTML and CSS. I find it fascinating that this software is still around. I remember pondering about using a WYSIWYG editor or not, which is not even a question that web developers ask themselves anymore. Also, the standard for HTML tags was to write them in all caps, like <BODY></BODY>. It looked awful! Do you recall <marquee> and <blink>? My co-workers and I brought back memories of these silly tags the other day. Web development in the 90s was a completely different beast. How to transfer files via FTP was common knowledge. Another lost practice… probably for the best!

In the end, I feel like the only tag that truly survived the evolution of HTML and the intrusiveness of JavaScript in the DOM is <div>. Despite the effort to implement semantic tags, the blandness of div is what probably encourages its use everywhere. And it seems that accessibility is the primary victim of this trend. Also, nobody looks at the resulting code of rendered pages anymore (did anyone ever did? I remember obsessing about this), so who cares?

When I look at how CSS evolved, though, I see a language that remained very stable and up to date. Even better, I believe that stylesheets grew to be an even more awesome way to create beautiful, pure designs. I’ve always considered that using JPEGs instead of CSS to build the layout of a website was a huge mistake, especially before the time of high-speed internet. I remember looking at websites in the 2000s and cry a little bit inside because of the size of the assets. Of course, float and inline-block are not really a thing anymore, thank goodness. But the recent addition of flex and grid were big game changers that promoted better styling practices.

I believe that looking, even briefly, at the early decades of web development is a good reminder of how far we got in the way we create websites. JavaScript truly evolved into something that I would have not foreseen. And the disruption from jQuery to libraries such as React and Vue was huge!

Remembering these things through the lens of nostalgia is a fun exercise. However, there is no doubt that this evolution was most definitively for the better!

Discussion (2)

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Amara Graham

I don't miss the blinking, but it is crazy to think how far web development has come.

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Yves Gurcan Author

Absolutely! And what makes me happy is that we have managed to keep some pretty good backward compatibility. The first site on the Internet still works: info.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProj... :)