I find myself longing for the old days, when I could design a web site in 5 minutes on a Sunday and then go play golf for the rest of the afternoon, and still collect a full week of salary for services rendered. That was back in 1996, when the internet was still new. Websites were created exclusively with HTML.
The client would email me the content for their website, which I would upload to FrontPage, then insert some tags and a template for formatting and layout, add some graphics, and that was it. Nowadays, I find myself working up to 10 hours per day designing web sites. I have to use so many different programming languages and specifications when creating a site that it makes me dizzy.
I can barely type this article because my brain literally hurts from all the different programming languages I have swirling around in my head. You might be wondering why my job has become so complicated in recent years. Well, it started with the wireless revolution, which made a mess out of cyberspace. Now, every wireless gadget is equipped with access to the internet and email.
Cell phones, palm tops, laptops, even computer screens in automobiles have web browsers. These gadgets have platforms and web browsers that are very different from what is installed on an ordinary desktop PC. These new web browsers are not compatible with many elements of the HTML programming language. As a result, websites created purely with HTML are often invisible or inaccessible to the wireless internet user. New languages and specifications such as XHTML, XSL, and XML were created to conform to these new web browsers.
A beta-version of Mozilla is compatible with it, but not the actual version. Firefox 1.1 works with E4X, but Internet Explorer, the most popular and widely used browser, does not work with it.
Not knowing how to use these new languages could mean that your web sites will be invisible to wireless internet users.
Jim Pretin is the owner of http://www.forms4free.com, a service that helps programmers make email forms.