Sep 18

HTML Sucks

Note: I wrote this 2 years ago when I was obvi­ous­ly hav­ing some issues with some web pages I was cre­at­ing. I’m post­ing it as-​is because it’s still true even it I haven’t had to deal with HTML direct­ly in years.

Years ago, Tim Berners-​Lee set out to make the shar­ing of research papers eas­i­er so he devised a sys­tem which led to our cur­rent web. He devised (or reworked some exist­ing ideas) a sim­ple text based sys­tem to trans­mit the text and includ­ed some struc­ture so the dis­play­ing pro­gram (the brows­er pre­de­ces­sor) could for­mat the text is a rea­son­able way. His goal was to cre­ate a sim­ple sys­tem for dis­play­ing text. But as time passed, and peo­ple start­ed to see the val­ue in link­ing pages, some got the idea that they could do more than just show text. More tags were added, CSS was cre­at­ed, and the sim­ple mod­el that Berners-​Lee cre­at­ed can hard­ly be seen any more.

All of this slow addi­tion of fea­tures, ideas, pro­gram­ming, and styling has led us to a point where one has no idea if a par­tic­u­lar “page” will dis­play at all let alone in the desired form. There is so much com­pli­ca­tion and so many browsers (includ­ing ver­sions and plat­forms) that it real­ly is impos­si­ble to have any idea what one will get.