The Cool Kids

It’s about time I get this off my chest. I’m a web developer. I build web sites. That’s what I do. These days, there’s about 900 different technologies available to build a site. We’re going to focus on presentation technologies, because if all we had to use was HTML, the Dreamweaver Masters of the Universe would be putting me out of work.

Anyways, I am of the opinion that web development technologies are getting more complicated, but I don’t feel like things are getting better. Typically, advancements in technology such as Web standards result in faster development time (through ease of implementation), which ultimately results in lower costs for clients. To put this in more plain English, if you (the client) have $20,000 to spend on a new car, and some new automotive technology is created that makes cars $5000 cheaper, you’re

1) Not going to pay $20K for a car that now costs $15K,
2) Probably not going to just buy a $15K car. You’ll add XM Radio, leather seats, maybe even an XBox 360 interface to get the price up to $20K (especially when it is corporate money, and not your own personal finances…you want that same budget next year, right?)

That was quite a tangent. Anyways, back to my initial point. New technology does not always mean better, faster, cheaper. I know many a developer that will preach the use of “off-the-shelf” solution rather than custom development for a project. I can’t name a time where the integration of that third party tool actually saved time. What typically happens is that it becomes a huge headache to implement, and because of it, we end up removing functionality, or using large rolls of duct tape to hold everything together afterwards.

Now that I’ve set up that part of my discussion, I can get to my real point. There are many technology evangelists that embrace every new thing out there, for the sole reason that it’s new. I’m gonna call them the cool kids. The cool kids push the use of the new, cool technologies, and pooh-pooh whatever you were using yesterday. A good example of some cool kids are the boys over at webstandards.org. Now let me preface this discussion by saying that I use Web Standards in my development efforts, and agree with their mission. A unified set of rules for web development? I’m all for it. Browsers behaving the way you expect them to? Awesome. But to make statements such as:

[Not using or ignoring Web standards] indicates not merely unprofessional Web-development practices but outright incompetence. For if you are producing tag-soup code and using tables for layout in the 21st century, that’s what you are: Incompetent.

You could at least read a [expletive removed] book and upgrade your skills to a point where you are no longer a total laughingstock.

is just elitist. I know plenty of great developers that either don’t have the time to learn Web standards, or just haven’t had the time to master the art that IS Web standards. It is at it’s core, very simple. Seperate your content from your presentation. But we’re not yet in a world where browsers work the way you would expect. Things just are different between Mozilla Firefox, IE, and the others. And when all you’ve got is a deadline looming, changing how you do everything, and living in a world of constant frustration is not something many are looking forward to.

New technology, new methods, new anything should not be embraced simply because it is new. It should fit your needs, your clients interests, your timeline, your budget, etc. Give me a reason to do it…and not just because the cool kids say I should.

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