I was talking to Erik Meijer yesterday and he said:
This discussion started because I was playing with Google+ and, as with most websites that I'm impressed with, I immediately did a View Source to see what was underneath. I was surprised. I saw this:
Oy. The whole page is a big GUID.
However, I see this on http://msn.com, http://www.bing.com, http://www.facebook.com and on and on. Even http://www.twitter.com is starting to "tighten" up a bit. All large sites appear to care not one bit about the aesthetics of their markup. So why do we?
It works, and it works great. Many of Google's best properties have GWT behind them. Would you be more impressed if you did a View Source and found that it was not only pretty on the outside but also inside?
This seems a little ironic because it was just a few years ago when ASP.NET Developers were railing against ViewState. "It's so heavy" really means "I don't understand what it does." ViewState was (and is) a powerful enabler for a development methodology that gets folks developing on the web faster than before. This is not unlike other toolkits Google Web Toolkit (GWT). GWT isn't completely unlike Web Forms in its philosophy. From the GWT website:
That seems like a very admirable philosophy, no? You could even say (with apologizes and tongue in cheek):
Semantic markup will still be buried in there and things like http://schema.org are still very important, just don't expect the source of your favorite website to read like a well indented haiku anymore.
To be clear, minification and compression are orthogonal optimizations. I'm talking about simply not caring if the markup and script emitted to the client are pretty. If you don't care about the markup sent to the browser, only the result, how can this free us to develop in new ways that aren't confined to slinging markup and JS. Ultimately, if it works great, who cares?
UPDATE for clarity:
- It's fast and getting faster.
- You can craft it manually or you can target it by compiling from another language.
If the tools - as a developer OR a designer - give you the control and the results you want, what do you care? I propose that neither Rails, nor ASP.NET nor GWT is 100% there. Each has their issues, but I think the future of the web is a diminished focus on clean markup and instead a focus on on compelling user experiences combined with languages and tools that make the developers work enjoyable and productive.