I'm bored with code
The state of the browser defines our freedom as website makers. Browsers are a constant source of frustration. For every step forward they take so does the horizon. New possibilities emerge; expectations are raised. What is seen as “modern” is always just beyond our ability. It has always been my desire to deliver websites at this frontier. Doing anything else would be outdated and a rather dull existence.
Building the front-end of websites is a charade. Learning the basic architecture of HTML & CSS will only get you so far. After that you need parlour tricks, hacks, and a willingness to experiment. I’ve always tried to convince myself that nothing is impossible to build. It’s a risk that has to date delivered. There is no “right way” and never a linear path to follow, only a final design to achieve without the strings visible. If a build ticks all the boxes in accessibility and presentation I’m going to call it a job well done.
Web critics within the industry often judge based on “perfection”. Yet this is rarely obtainable on a commercial project. Worse yet, feedback along these lines tends to be very negative and arrogant. The success of a project is unfairly balanced on one specific and seemingly obvious oversight; in reality something that is far from high priority. In the past I’ve picked holes. As a fellow front-ender it’s easy (view source/open developer tools). But when you learn to look at things from a user’s perspective, there’s quite a lot that doesn’t make the blindest bit of difference. The life of a website design is too short to worry about every nuance of code.
For a while I thought the only thing that could hold me back getting from A to B was lack of ingenuity and self believe. Now I realise that getting caught up in the process is tiresome in itself. I’ve come to realise that the more I’m writing code, the more I’m failing at my job. Every HTML tag I close and every CSS rule I declare is time taken away from designing the end product. I still enjoy this part of my job, but the text editor is somewhere I should be spending as little time as possible. Whether it’s with new tools or glossing over insignificant cracks, the quicker I can build the more opportunity I have to perfect what really matters.
Time for a change
It’s taken me a long time to start regularly using CSS pre-processors. Initially I was skeptical of whether I could find value in them. I’ve been stubborn. I failed to see that moving away from my vanilla process wouldn’t compromise the simplicity of it. Now I have to admit, the difference they make in reducing coding time is astonishing. The learning curve I feared was ultimately a couple of hours of head scratching, nothing more. Of course, that’s entirely subjective, but for me it lends nicely to the fact that I’ve simply gotten bored of writing code.
I sense we’re at a tipping point where the perceived quality of “hand-crafted” code is becoming too expensive to uphold. Web standards and design expectations are evolving with ever more complexity. To remain focused on achieving the end product we must automate as much of the process as possible. Building websites is part of what I do. That’s not going to change, but how I go about it will.