Web design or browser programming ?

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Web design or browser programming ?

Postby Nigel » Sat Jan 10, 2009 10:18 am

I've been dabbling with web pages etc for many years now and have picked up a little knowledge on the way.
Since the early days when I used Compuserve, the Internet consisted mainly of home pages and a few major company sites. The main concern was getting everything to look right on a 800 x 600 resolution screen using web safe colours and images as small as possible to speed up the download.
Now it's all gone mad with blogs, forum, wikipedia etc.
We also have many brands of browsers and several versions of each all running alongside each other.
Gone are the days of plain HTML. Now we have cascading style sheets, XML, XHTML, Javascript, DOM, Flash, PHP or a combination to create the page. The end result is usually something visual in the form of a web page but the source behind it is more like a computer programme than a visual design.

We have wysiwyg applications like Dreamweaver but even they need manual coding to get some things to work right and their output is, of course, a complex piece of code.

So, are we designing a web page or are we actually programming a browser ?
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Re: Web design or browser programming ?

Postby Graham Smith » Sat Jan 10, 2009 12:38 pm

Good question. The same can be said about everything "computer".

Back in the DOS days, you spent a minimum amount of time with what I like to call the "fiddly bits". Whether it was writing a letter in WordPerfect or laying out a form in DFD, the emphasis was on substance rather than appearance. A well documented study looked at letters written with a DOS word processor as opposed to a Mac word processor found that the DOS letters were "better written". The substance, structure, etc, of the DOS letters were just plain superior. However, everyone also agreed that the Mac letters looked better and the average reader would think that they were the better letters.

IOW, we are visual creatures. Given the choice between appearance and substance, we tend to prefer appearance. This can readily be seen with the evolution of Windows. Users can spend hours changing the appearance of Windows which changes nothing about the way it functions.

Now we get down to the nitty gritty, since we have decided we need to concentrate on appearance, how do we do it. Well, the fact is that maximum flexibility can rarely be achieved through pre-defined functions. Sooner or later you are going to have to resort to some kind of scripting. Is that programming? Not really, but it sure seems like it is sometimes.

But no matter what you call it, the truth is that the amount of time required to do anything in Windows today seems to be growing by leaps and bounds. But the funny thing is, everything runs so much faster and the tools are so much more sophisticated that I wonder if the two things don't balance each other out.
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