Not a Professional Web Developer!

The most recent Daring Fireball post brought a little grin to my face. Of all the people that pick up a keyboard and type out their thoughts about about the Mac landscape, John's easily one of the sharpest. So if I'm going to be taken down a peg, it might as well be by him.

In this post, John recaps the MWSF2006 announcements (I guess the "SF" is redudant now), referencing my comments about iWeb's HTML/CSS output. In essence, what I said is that the output is "pretty good." These words triggered a little bit of a backlash in the comments on Theocacao. Just when I thought it was over, I read the following line John's writeup:

Scott Stevenson likes the photo gallery feature and his first impression was that iWebís markup was pretty good. Stevenson is a very smart guy, but heís not a professional web developer...

The brutality! I get a compliment and an insult all in one breath. While there are plenty of people I've worked with that would get a chuckle here, the truth is that I actually am a professional web developer (or at least put up pretty good appearances), and I've been the lead on some big-ish sites.

I was the lead for -- which had over four million members during my stay -- and was also the lead for AltaVista's original intranet. Of more interest to people here, I designed MacNN's identity with the blue/white/yellow scheme, spyglass icon and the "read me first" tagline. I also implemented the first prototype of their content management system, though I have no idea what they use now. I just started doing some web work for a major mobile phone carrier. Let's not forget the cunning use of CSS in Cocoa Dev Central's tutorial pages either.

Does that sound too defensive and self aggrandizing? Most certainly.

I was going to email John directly -- and maybe would have done that if I was actually insulted -- but decided it would more fun to reply via blog.

In any case, I obviously didn't make my thoughts about iWeb very clear at all. Yes, I am aware that there are tags like p, h1, and so on, I just don't feel that lack of them is anywhere near the worst thing that a site or site generator can do.

The web's biggest problem from a browser perspective is syntactically valid content, and a lot of the blame for that falls in the lap of graphical web tools. The fact that iWeb, a consumer tool mind you, generates valid markup and style information is a step in the right direction.

The main point of the app is that it's easy for normal people to make great sites. The comment about the output was preliminary and really just a footnote. The ideal case, of course, would be using paragraph tags and whatnot, but that's why I said pretty good. John echos that:

My point being that iWebís XHTML generator is not atrocious; it is trying to do the right thing but has fallen short. It should be improved, not scrapped.


Reflections on Other Macworld Stuff

While we're on the topic, though, a few other points about the post I found interesting:

1. There's no AppleWorks on the new Intel-based Macs. It was one of the first Carbon apps, and seems out of place in the the iWork world. The only problem is that there's no spreadsheet in iWork. To be honest, I was really expecting and hoping to see this, but no luck. Back to Excel I suppose, but maybe this isn't a coincidence considering Microsoft's announcement of the continued development of Office.

2. I was surprised that the industrial design for the Intel-based Macs is very similar to the previous PowerPC models. John smartly points out that this could be a psychological play on Apple's part to smooth the transition. In other words, you don't want people to see a radically different exterior and get concerned about how different an Intel-based Mac might be to use. In fact, Steve drove home the point about how similar the Intel iMac is in overall function to the G5 model.

3. Finally, I share the enthusiasm for the new Intel Mac TV ad, and particularly like the the fact that it forced Intel to apologize for the "dull little tasks" comment. In an industry that is often as exciting as dirt and ruled by PR spokespeople, it's nice to see small victories for those who knowingly say the wrong thing simply because they want to.
Design Element
Not a Professional Web Developer!
Posted Jan 23, 2006 — 12 comments below


Ben — Jan 23, 06 681

I'm just an average comsumer who's dabbled in HTML/CSS and I am not a knowledgable fellow re: HTML but, from what I've read about iWeb, it could do a better job of its HTML/CSS implementations. That being said, the people who care how it's implemented would be a minority, a small and vocal minority.

iWeb is indeed a little application so the average-Joe can pump out a little website to keep his/her little world up to date on their life. The end user doesn't care about HTML/CSS/AJAX/Servers/Clients/...

I would equate it to people who are interested in cars, interested in how/why a car company was able to squeeze an extra 4kw from an engine, or how the fuel consumption differs from the MkII model. Compared to the general populace who purchases a new car because of a whole different array of features.

I understand that the people who have been vocal call upon "standards, standards, standard", but in essence Apple (in their general blind arrogance) have produced a product that "just works" and not cared to greatly with the implementation.

I guess the engineers in Apple where saying, "Hey, we can make this HTML/CSS beautiful and that minority who care about HTML/CSS will be really proud of what we've done... Now that I think about it those people who will care about how this is implemented and how we've conformed to standards will probably not even use our product. They will continue textwrangler and custom Dreamweaver websites, probably take a quick look at iWeb and quickly discard it, let's just do what we want. What say you?"

Now I am generalising, and I think I've moved away from what you were originally saying Scott. But I guess what I am trying to say is, as a general consumer, "Who gives a...?"

Scott Stevenson — Jan 23, 06 682 Scotty the Leopard

I think the concern is not that the average user of iWeb cares, but those among us that care about the web's journey towards being a universal medium would like to see something better.

That is, the web is only as good as the pages that make it up. In theory, the better the page markup, the more universal access to its contents will be.

This, I think, is where my message got lost. I actually do know a thing or two about web standards work as I've been doing this for ten years and have been pushing for standards for at least eight of those. But by saying it was "pretty good," I somehow gave the impression that Apple had no work to do in this area.

What I meant was that it's not perfect and hopefully the next version is more capable, but they did connect with the single biggest issue related to web standards: properly-formed documents and stylesheets meeting W3 specs.

Uli Kusterer — Jan 23, 06 683


I actually got the same impression John got, because of one of your comments on the original thread. I guess you were being *too* modest there, because it really sounded like: "Hey, I only did three HTML pages for my own web site and the rest came out of a friend's quill..."

But hey, look at the upside: You now know that JOHN FRIGGIN' GRUBER READS YOUR BLOG!!!

ahem... sorry...

John Gruber — Jan 23, 06 684


So let me start out by apologizing for being flat-out wrong. I'm terribly embarrassed by the error, and I'm quite thankful that you seem to have taken it in good humor.

I'll add that I'm not surprised to find out you are a professional web developer, because I very much enjoy the design of Theocacoa. I assumed you were not because (a) I inferred (incorrectly, obviously) from previous entries here on Theocacao that you were "only" a programmer; and (b) I've developed a mental association between "professional web developer" and "semantically-rich web standards enthusiast".

Scott Stevenson — Jan 23, 06 685 Scotty the Leopard

I'm terribly embarrassed by the error, and I'm quite thankful that you seem to have taken it in good humor.

I really wasn't bothered by it in the least, but appreciate that you took the time to leave a comment here anyway. I probably should have used more smiley faces.

because I very much enjoy the design of Theocacoa

Many thanks.

Jussi — Jan 24, 06 686

The web's biggest problem from a browser perspective is syntactically valid content,

I gather that you are missing the prefix "in" before the word valid. :)

Lars — Oct 07, 06 1968

Gruber, merely famous.,00.shtml

Matt McVickar — Oct 05, 07 4718

This is an interesting read. I think you're read about iWeb being a step in the right direction for WYSIWYG webpage editors. Unfortunately, iWeb '08 is only a slight improvement. Have you gotten a chance to see the code it generates?

craps casino — Jun 15, 09 6810

While Iím no professional yet, itís something Iím working on, and I can vouch that institutions are teaching greatly outdated technologies. Try finding a course on python or ruby. Instead you have to take C, C++, Java, Perl, PHP, etc. and rely on your own ability to teach yourself other languages. Granted, thatís not as hard as it may seem for some, but for me, itís all about making time for myself to learn of these newer things instead of relying on my own self to make time.
I donít know if an organization would help or not, but it sure would be nice for clients to see one is worth more than what they see on a web page.

free internet bingo — Dec 23, 09 7012

I'm about to start producing a series of instructional videos that will run on our intranet. Do you know of any book on design patterns, or standards, on instructional video production?

Web Hosting — Dec 24, 09 7015

Thank you for you help, I added alt tags to my website as soon as I read your article. Hereís a good technique to embed flash and still be able to validate your code.If you just let Dream weaver handle your Flash embedding, your code will not validate.Good luck

Web designers — Dec 29, 09 7026

Thanks for the greatest information!


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