Web pioneer Jeremy Keith talks with us about the resiliency of the web, upcoming innovations in CSS and browser support, native vs. web, and what he’s excited about in web development.
More About Jeremy Keith
Can You List 3 to 5 Life Success or Leadership Principles?
1 – Don’t eat the yellow snow.
2 – Avoid licking your elbows.
3 – Get plenty of sleep.
Have You Got Any Special Promotions or Offers At the Present Moment That Our Listeners or Viewers Would Be Interested In?
I published a book recently. It’s available on the web for free. It’s short. It’s called Resilient Web Design. https://resilientwebdesign.com
Resilient Web Design
Jeremy Keith has been working on the web since it’s very earliest days. As a leader in the Web Standards Movement, a speaker for An Event Apart, a blogger, and author, he has always been one of the web’s deepest thinkers.
In his latest online publication, Resilient Web Design, Jeremy looks at what made the web take off, and the many inventions that had to be in place for the web to flourish. More than anything, this short book emphasizes there is nothing new under the sun, and we can look to the past to predict the future.
Is Modern Web Design Overly Complex?
We asked Jeremy if the web has gotten too complex. He countered by saying in the early days, you likely were doing everything from setting up the server to writing the HTML.
Today, jobs are more siloed, because web technologies are more mature, and no one can know everything at this point.
Web developers love tools, and that tinkering spirit still exists. That is part of what drives the web forward. It is important to understand the underlying principles. For instance, as accessibility and voice recognition become more common, semantic HTML will be more important than ever. What’s old is new again.
Jeremy said many things like CSS Grid are on track to having almost no support to having near universal support in the near future. He says he just got used to writing Flexbox, and he will have to get used to CSS Grid, as it introduces another dimension to CSS layout.
If developers want to experiment with cutting edge technologies, most browsers let you enable beta support for emerging technologies, and this is a good way to experiment. Other sites like Codepen and JSBin give you a sandbox for testing front-end code.
Jeremy is most excited about the Service Workers API, which will allow you to access cached web pages, even if there is no internet access. Up to now, this has been one of the strongest arguments for native apps over web apps.
Native vs. Web: Which Is Better?
Jeremy noted that the pendulum has started to swing back the other way, back towards the web, when it comes to support of features. Before the App Store, you had to build web apps, because native was not a widespread phenomenon yet.
In recent years, mobile has dominated the development of apps. But now, the web supports many things that were previously only possible with native (like the Service Worker API).
Jeremy notes that historically, no transcendent technology kills the previous one. One technology might diminish in power, but it doesn’t disappear. This is why native vs. web arguments are pointless. He points to examples like television not killing radio to illustrate the point.
Cutting Edge Technologies That Are Improving
Jonathan asks Jeremy about technologies like voice recognition and artificial intelligence. Jeremy says voice recognition is getting better, but still has a lot of room for improvement. He cites touch screen capability as something that was not very good for many years, but one day, was very good all across the board. He sees voice recognition and AI in the same regard. They will improve gradually, and likely get very good all at once.
In the bonus content (exclusive to the website and YouTube), Jeremy says the biggest threat to the web is not technological, but cultural. He says developers are dumping megabytes of advertising (that borders on malware) into web pages without batting an eye. This terrible user experience has a greater chance of diminishing the influence of the web than anything else.
It was truly an honor to talk with someone who has shaped so much of the web. I hope our listeners and viewers will get as much out of this episode as we did.
Links Mentioned During Episode 162
HTML5 For Web Designers
Designing with Web Standards (3rd Edition)
Scott Jenson: Mobile Apps Must Die (2011)
Once Upon a Forest (Flash site)
Praystation (Flash site)
Tragedy of the Commons
Digital Rights Management