Monday, March 17, 2008

Cut to the Chase Already

Joel Spolsky has a new post on web standards and why browsers are such a mess. I had noticed it earlier and ignored it because it looked so long, but Alpha's PR folks passed it along to me just a little while ago to get my thoughts on it. They know their business and they are good at what they do, so I figured I really should take another look at what Joel wrote.

I think I agree with where Joel is going, but frankly I feel more inspired to write a rant about why his article is waaaay too long for me to bother reading all of it.

Maybe that's because I'm all too familiar with non-standard standards and bitter about the chunk of my life wasted while testing web pages in umpteen different browsers at a time. I still have the scars, and the copy of Netscape Navigator 1.0 on a floppy, to remind me.

HTML and browser "standards", like many standards in technology and other industries as well, are almost always implemented in a non-standard way. This means that if you build a web page and test it on your own PC, say using Internet Explorer 7 with a screen resolution of 1024x768, and everything looks great, you now know absolutely nothing about what your web page is going to look like to other folks viewing the exact same page.

This concept is very valuable, critical really, to anyone new to web development.

Joel goes to great lengths to explain this and you can see that he obviously put in a lot of effort to make his explanation clear and included numerous diagrams to back it all up. I appreciate and applaud the effort But I still haven't read the whole darn thing and I'm not going to.

I'm a busy guy and I have work to do. Alpha Five Platinum will ship in the near future and that means I'm busy testing, fixing bugs (of course not in MY code ;), and making sure that tech support is as up to speed as possible on the new release so they can help customers, not to mention all the other "distractions" of the job. And even without an upcoming release, I still would have plenty of work to do and would not have read the whole article.

Don't get me wrong Joel, I like your stuff. And I know you'll sleep better tonight knowing that :) But printed, your post is 13 pages! It's not an attention span thing either - I've read and reread most, if not all, of those "non-standard standards" and those certainly aren't light or entertaining reading. But please, cut to the chase already!

Yes, I know I've taken too much of readers' time writing a blog post this long, so I'm done.


Anonymous said...

I read Joel and yes, the article is long. But it's a very important article with some very heavy (and funny) stuff at the end. No VPIPIS should miss a word.

Lenny Forziati said...

Will, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

I have to confess that I did give Joel's article more attention than I made it sound like. Ultimately I feel like it is a very important article as you said, but I am not the right audience for it. I'm painfully familiar with the specific problems he outlines and the pitfalls of the attempts to solve them. Adding all the Martian stuff just drew it out and made it a waste of time for me personally. Yet I still passed it along to several other people because of the core content. The delivery didn't work for me, but we all learn in different ways.

And by the way, I really like the name of your company, ptCTO. I spent a few years doing similar stuff and I often miss it.