Intro — My Life’s Journey with the WWW
“Can you build a website using this?”
What met my eyes was the Microsoft Frontpage manual on the table. I was at an interview after a surprise job-related call through school. It was sometime in 1997; I was a Junior in an art college in New York City and barely halfway through my first HTML course.
This is how my career has started, which I did not know at that time, along with the internet boom in the late 1990s.
My life as a Gen X somehow has been intertwined naturally with the history of modern technology: I was born in 1971 — the year the first Intel microchip was invented; the year 1994 was the year I moved to the United States from Seoul, South Korea, abandoning (at least I rebelliously *thought* I was) my Statistics major to pursue Art, which was also the year Sir Tim Berners-Lee moved from CERN to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to found the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
I still remember the Netscape logo, the “N” over the horizon, on the screen over my classmate’s shoulder. When I asked what he’s doing, “I can watch videos and read free stuff here.” The videos at that time were as tiny as a matchbox, yet while cramming at the computer lab (I switched to Computer Art major from Fine Art) for the final project week, locked in the lab overnight in the city, we often enjoyed group-watching videos or funny sites.
We swam in 256 colors and pixelated images while giggling at the dial-up modem’s ping sounds. Even AOL’s “You got mail” made it to a movie. Then came XHTML, Flash and ActionScripts, Lamp stack, Dreamweaver, Napster, the rise of smartphones, WordPress, Facebook won the market over MySpace, the app boom, …and the list goes on.
It’s been a journey with never a dull moment.
Now there is a flood of frameworks, APIs, microservices, cloud computing, a million different ways of building one app or website. It is still exciting, yet I don’t deny that it could be exhausting at times. One thing is clear that there may not be one silver bullet these days; the goal now seems to seek the most efficient way to handle things — the architecture and build plan that can promise to hold the fort at least for a few years.
Not only the development but also the design field has been through many evolutions. Call me biased, but facing the era calling for more efficiency and flexibility in designs, some innovative online UI tools (Figma and Framer) are leading the UI market exceeding what most known desktop-based design tools offer. I once had thought, “.. hmm, will Adobe ever fade out...” (note: nothing personal. It was just my random thought!) Now there is a possibility. Never say never.
Now, what does this retrospect boil down to?
Over the past 20 years, many tools have come and gone. Every day, new technologies are introduced and improvements are made to existing ones. Yet what holds the fort tight and steady is the ever forgiving HTML.
HTML is like the grand ocean welcoming all types of water. Through many iterations of stubborn and opinionated IEs (now fast forward to 2020, Microsoft vows to open source), Flash vs. apple war, and shiny and loud social media era, HTML has always been there, like your old friend, observing all these rises and falls, yet not forgetting one thing — its role to keep the Web fair, available for everyone.
So here is the breakdown to back my rambling on why “start with HTML” in 2021:
- Start with HTML — Part 1: HTML, Home Sweet Home
- Start with HTML — Part 2: Flexible outside, strong backbone inside
- Start with HTML — Part 3: The rise of browser power and progressive web apps