Just markup

by Michael Scharnagl

When I started working as a Front-end Developer (or rather Web designer, as people doing HTML, CSS and a bit of JavaScript were usually called back then), all the Back-end people working at the company *laughed* at me because I was »just« doing HTML and CSS and not »real programming«. They thought all you need to know in HTML are <font>, <br> and some form elements (including <input> without labels of course).

<FONT color="black" face=Arial size=2>I am a real programmer.</FONT>

CSS was only used inline and only to change font-size and color and if they needed to align something they build some terrible tables (at a time where using tables for layout were already bad practice for several years). They didn’t think a second about accessibility, maintainability or semantics.

At that time I also used the username “justmarkup” for the first time and stuck to it when I started blogging 2012. So, if you ever wondered about my username, now you know.

On to the now

10 years later, this hasn’t really changed. Yes, there are many Back-end/JavaScript developers now realizing that HTML and CSS is really important, that it takes a long time to master it and that a website is useless without proper HTML and CSS. At the same time, many Back-end/JavaScript developers still say that doing HTML/CSS is not »real programming«, that you more or less only need to know about <div> and <span> and that CSS is annoying.

Telling other people working on the web and doing a great job building web sites that they are useless because they focus on HTML and CSS is very wrong.

JavaScript !== Front-end

What I am seeing is that many developers focus entirely on JavaScript nowadays and I see companies where they replace Back-end Developers with JavaScript Developers. What some don’t understand is that a JavaScript Developer is not per se a Front-end Developer. A JavaScript Developer may not like to write CSS or does not really care about semantics. That’s the same way I prefer not to work directly with Databases or configure a Server. That’s okay. What is not okay is if you don’t want to use something and at the same time tell others what they do is easy or useless. Even worse is if you try to tell experts in their field that they are doing it all wrong and that they should do it »your way«.

I had this article in my drafts for over three years and sadly the bashing even got worse in my experience. Let’s stop this madness, respect and value what others do and never think »Bla bla FIRST«.

One thought on “Just markup

  1. Lee says:

    Excellent article! Thanks for pointing out the importance of the foundation of most websites.

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Michael Scharnagl

Portrait Michael Scharnagl

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A freelance front-end developer focusing on HTML5, CSS, progressive enhancement and web performance.