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The importance of fundamentals

Pete Lambert wrote an amazing article last week called “HTML is the web.”

Go read the whole thing, but I wanted to share a few of my favorite parts (with some additional commentary in places). The main point Pete makes is this:

My big concern is at the bottom of that technology pyramid. The lowest common denominator of the Web. The foundation. The rhythm section. The ladyfingers in the Web trifle. It’s the HTML. And it is becoming increasingly clear to me that there’s a whole swathe of Frontend Engineers who don’t know or understand the frontend-est of frontend technologies.

I couldn’t agree more!

We’ve become so collectively obsessed with JavaScript—the pollution of the web—that large numbers of us don’t know the basics of the more important underlying tech in the stack.

A Web page is a document.

I get really annoyed when people say things like, “Well, I build apps, not web pages,” as an excuse to not give a shit about proper semantics, page hierarchy, progressive enhancement, and so on.

A web app is still a web page. It’s still a document. These things matter!

If you’d written proper HTML, most of those attributes wouldn’t be necessary at all. You get a whole heap of accessibility features for free just by using a real button instead of a div with an onClick listener. For FREE. That’s accessibility and performance and user experience points, for free. FREE!

It continues to blow my mind how often I see div’s styled as clickable elements when a button would have been the easier and better choice.

We continue to literally break the things that browsers give us out-of-the-box and reimplement them anew with CSS and JavaScript. It’s madness!

This stuff really matters. Not doing this stuff is slowly (actually not that slowly) breaking the World Wide Web.


I’m going to stop now or I run the risk of literally copy/pasting Pete’s entire article. Seriously, go read the whole thing right now.