Am I the only one to hate HTML or is this « language » really a pain in the back ? Like many of you, I am a back-end guy : I love Java, I feel happy when I use hibernate, J2EE doesn’t scare me anymore, Struts has no secret… but behind the Strut’s Form lies the dark side of web applications : HTML (or XHTML)

I’m working with some friends on a website that we will soon put online. This time we are not allowed to have dirty Hello World black&white pages. This time there is no HTML designer to do the dirty job of writing HTML for us, so we have to do it. We use a java IDE, Google to find some nice icons and the look for help in the community of javascripters, flashers, designers and htmlers.

We have been using Firefox. So we change a JSP, deploy, look at Firefox and see if it looks nice. « Oops, too high, too low, a bit more to the right, the font is not the right one… » and so on and so forth. When in the middle of the development we thought of having a look at Internet Explorer, the difference was amazing. We were using just normal HTML tags (tables, td, tr, div..), nothing fancy. We spent hours and hours trying to make look pretty on both browsers. And we’ve discovered something very sad:

My text


<tr><td>My text</td></tr>

Are interpreted differently? sometimes. Believe it or not. Because we use Java IDE to indent our java code, we thought it was cool to indent JSPs to make them a bit more readable. What a mistake. I can’t tell you how many presentation errors we found just by not indenting our code and writing lines of 500 characters long.

I’ve never liked HTML, but these bugs really made me angry about the all situation: each browser has its own parser (fine), each browser supports such and such tags (don’t like this idea) and each browser has it’s own presentation rules (I hate that). And I don’t even want to mention Javascript. To make a simple piece of code work in different browsers is a hell.

HTML is old now (more than 15 years), most of the developments today are made on web applications and the amount of HTML will increase with time. So, let’s make the move, let’s re-thing the presentation language, re-write browsers from scratch (yes Bill, you can do that too) and we will call this new language something completely different.

What do you think ?

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