Are the newer generation of developers reliving past mistakes?

Though I doubt many agree, I have to say: the recent fervor behind HTML 5, CSS3, and JavaScript feels like a step in the wrong direction.

Let me explain:

I come from a time when web development made you want to cry.  I happen from a time when each browser you chose to support would require one to develop an independent set of hacked CSS rules, JavaScript, and often, HTML; and each of these browsers would require testing after each and every change.  I’ve come from a time when debugging in JavaScript meant inserting “alert” statements in dozens of places within the code and then hitting refresh in a browser.  I come from a time when large web applications would contain scores of redundant code, and scores more of unused styles and JavaScript, which would be destined to remain in the application as if they were naught but malignant tumors.

Don’t get me wrong: application development is my passion.  But doing what needed to be done to get a web application working wasn’t development… it was pre-ordained bug fixing.

But as time progressed, things became more hopeful.  XML gave us a flexible way to store data.  Then XHTML gave us a way to read web pages without concern for misinterpretation.  Then SOAP allowed us the ability to share data with others.  Then Silverlight and Moonlight gave us hope of finally ridding ourselves of the shackles that are HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, forever.  Then Windows Phone 7 arrives, promising the market share the world needs in order to take XAML seriously.  And even if you chose not to embrace XAML, you knew that the holy grail was just around the corner.

But then Apple slew Moonlight. (And I will forever curse you, Apple, for your proprietary spells have cast a gloom on us simple software folk.)

And then the masses began to talk of HTML5 as though they’d forgotten how his ancestors had ravaged our towns.

And now I can’t help but wonder, as we progress into the future: will future generations of programmers be forced to deal with the same crap that we had to deal with, over and over again?

Will the technologies used in application development prove to follow a cyclic pattern?  Clothing style does this… just think of how both the 70’s and 80’s styles have come around.  In said fashion, will one generation reintroduce hacker mentalities and force the subsequent generation to deal with the consequences?

Or will advancement be more like some technological tug-of-war between the heroic Architects and the evil Hackers… both alternately giving and then gaining ground as one seeks to build and the other seeks to destroy?

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