Death of the HTML Coder
It seems like you can't walk into a bookstore anymore without being overwhelmed by the number of books promising to
teach you the art of authoring HyperText Markup Language, better known as HTML. Each month seems to bring a truckload of
new titles discussing the basic Web document formatting language. With the advent of the popularity of the Web and
companies seemingly stampeding for a presence in cyberspace, a whole new job market has been born -- one that requires
workers who are competent in HTML page creation.
Such Webmasters display an almost snobbish, prideful attitude when they announce to peers that they have mastered this
"mystic" communication language. They hop with joy as new HTML extensions are added to their design arsenals. Some even go
as far as calling themselves real programmers because they understand how to apply HTML tags to text and graphics to enhance
the message of a Web site. To all those Webmasters who believe they have job security in knowing the meanings of <B> and </B>,
take notice -- your days are numbered.
Consider what happened to Postscript.
Early adopters and explorers of this page description language used in the print and desktop publishing industries took
great pride in understanding and mastering the art of Postscript code. Adobe published the now famous "Blue Book" of
Postscript commands, akin to the early HTML command books.
Eventually, computer-book publishers followed suit by releasing enhanced editions of instruction on the Postscript
language, ranging from short 100-page manuals to bulky 2,000-page requiems.
As time progressed, software developers created desktop publishing applications that generated Postscript code
automatically, thereby eliminating the need for designers to know the intimate details of Postscript commands. Companies such
as Quark, Aldus and of course, Adobe then became synonymous with desktop publishing thanks to their ability to remove the
requirement for Post script.
With that, programs such as Quark XPress, PageMaker, Illustrator and Photo shop took page design from the Postscript
coders and placed it back into the hands of the graphic artists. The same thing is already starting to happen with
HTMLprogramming. Netscape recently released their Navigator Gold product with basic WYSIWYG design tools. Not to be
outdone, Microsoft bought Vermeer Technology and its premier Front Page software for about $130 million. The buzz among
designers is that Front Page could easily develop into the equivalent of the QuarkXPress of the Internet.
Even Adobe has re-engineered their page layout software technology with their PageMill package. Many new companies
are bringing out their own interpretations of
a Web-supported page layout utility that elegantly mask HTML tags from the user. This may bring smiles to graphic designers,
who were becoming concerned with obsolescence as they read how the Internet could eventually eliminate much of the need
for print media.
So, programs such as Navigator Gold, Front Page and PageMill are taking page design from the hands of HTML coders and
placing design capabilities back in the hands of the graphic artists. Sound familiar?
To all the smug HTML authors laboring under the false pretense that their vocation is going to stay in demand: Get a grip
and learn some real 'net programming like C++ and JAVA. As more Web content providers realize they can purchase software
packages and leave design to talented graphic artists, HTML coders will join the ranks of punch-tape operators.
To succeed, former HTML coders will need to assimilate strong graphic arts and page design skills or become specialists in
highly sought-after Object Oriented Programming, of which C++ and JAVA are family members.
At the very least, they should learn a macro language such as VBScript to stay viable in the Internet marketplace long
enough to comprehend the higher level computer programming dialects.
Mike Riley heads up Sendai Interactive Media and oversees www.nuke.com
The views of Mike Riley do not necessarily reflect those of Internet Underground, and DEFINATELY DO NOT reflect the views of the webmaster of underground online.