Respect for Web Developers

    March 23, 2005

Back when I was first paid to build web-based applications (around 1998 or so), the world of Web Development as we know it today did not exist.

When I began working my first post-college full-time job, things had improved a bit. I learned all that fancy JavaScript, VBScript, Applets, and ActiveX stuff. But I couldn’t really put it to use because the cross-platform and cross-browser support was horrible. I swore off DHTML and went on with life, focusing more on the backend and server side stuff (Perl, Oracle/MySQL, etc).

Nowadays, Google is dazzling us with their DHTML in Maps and Suggest. Ajax is all over the place. And don’t forget that little photo sharing site. It’s once again cool to do fancy client side web stuff, but more importantly, it is possible to do it and cover the majority of the users and platforms.

The problem for me, of course, is that the technology has advanced 4-5 years since I swore it off. That’s a lot of time on the web. So I figure that if I ever wanted to get back into it, I’d have an uphill battle.

Brad Fitzpatrick confirmed this today when he wrote:

I’ve been doing a lot of JavaScript the past couple days, trying to expand my horizons.

Holy crap, man.

I’m pretty smart, but this shit is hard. Between IE, Moz/Firefox, and Safari/Konq, I’ve seen everything. I’m now educated in quirks mode, strict mode, the different box models, the different event registration models, the different DOMs, the different ……

This tells me three things:

  1. this stuff is still hard to get right–lots of little pitfalls still
  2. I certainly would have a lot to learn or relearn
  3. webdev folks really don’t get the respect they deserve

That last point it worth reinforcing. I think a lot of people who’ve been doing “web stuff” long enough think that web developers are the same as the “HTML monkeys” we use to refer to back in the day. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Jeremy Zawodny is the author of the popular Jeremy Zawodny’s blog. Jeremy is part of the Yahoo search team and frequently posts in the Yahoo! Search blog as well.

Visit Jeremy’s blog: Jeremy Zawodny’s blog.