Saturday, February 25, 2006
Nice friggin' meatloaf
Jessica, who left this message, was one of my roommates last year.

Back then, I worked half-time during my last year of school as a programmer for University Housing. Most of my work was in PHP creating little web apps to handle employment data and other things. It was really, really important for everything to work in every browser, so mostly everything was done by generating HTML, having the user fill out a form, and making a POST or GET request, just like every other web app since 1932. Being part of the state, accessibility was very high concern for us (this is an extremely big problem with AJAX and Web 2.0, by the way). I used Javascript rarely and, if I did, I did it in such a way that it would "degrade gracefully" if you didn't have Javascript on (I don't know, maybe there are some Lynx users out there).

Jessica helped teach a class concerned with web design. We were once discussing the topic. I was complaining about how much of a mess Wiscmail was and how slow and Javascript-dependent it was. I described my philosophy on the subject:

"Javascript is like a spice. You can use it to make things a little better, but you can't make an entire meatloaf out of spice. Don't make Javascript meatloaf."

She loved the analogy and started using the phrase in class.

Of course, I get here, and, due to my frontend/design background, I'm placed on Google Page Creator, which is the biggest piece of Javascript meatloaf I've ever seen.

The irony of this hit me very hard when I started, but I couldn't say anything to Jessica about it as the project was still internal. Of course, it's out now. So this morning, I have this this comment on the last post:

"Nice friggin' meatloaf, Nathan"

Of course, once you restrict to a set of browsers, you can start doing some very impressive things with Javascript (Maps floored me when I first saw it). I have, in the process of being here, become a convert.

Here's to browser apps. And meatloaf.
I included in my curriculum a list of "okay" uses of Javascript, and one of these was "client-side and client-dependent applications." (In class, I said, "If you think you have one, you don't. If you still think you have one, ask me after class.") That was before AJAX was a buzzword, though. Google Maps is cool, but what got me excited about the possibilities was Seattle Bus Monster. (Safari users: click the orange fox in your dock. Seattle Bus Monster also doesn't have Safari support yet. P.S. Safari deserves your support.)

It's nice to see Javascript being used for Good rather than Evil. A WYSIWYG that generates strict XHTML with CSS-based styling? Did I get abducted by fairies and fall asleep for a century? The internet may yet be saved. I'll even forgive belated Safari support for that. :)
I just read, "Google Page Creator has experienced extremely strong demand, and, as a result, we have temporarily limited the number of new signups as we increase capacity." Good thing John and I got John's Google Page up right away.
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