Tuesday, June 24, 1997 by Dave Winer.
Enough is enough.
I'm fed up with all the BS that's showing up in web browsers.
Jeffrey Veen writes in WebMonkey that browsers are boring. I agree. Who cares about the junk they're feeding us? Few users are demanding jumpy bits of text or web crawlers or slow Java applets, or dynamic HTML. As a website guy myself, I can't use these features. My users would rebel! Quickly.
The net is clogged with bitmapped bits of text. Look www.microsoft.com and www.zdnet.com for examples. Has anyone at those sites watched their pages load on a 28K modem? It's unreal. Such an awful user experience.
Netscape and Microsoft are going nowhere fast. I'm getting bored with web browsers. I'm making it my business, right now, to understand where we're going.
Remember what Sheryl Crowe sang...
Let's get real.
In 1979 I programmed in UCSD Pascal on an Apple II. It had a library of routines called Turtle Graphics. Imagine a turtle crawling around on your screen. It has a pen in its mouth. You can tell the turtle to put the pen down, then when the turtle moves it leaves a trail of ink behind it. Pull the pen up and the turtle moves invisibly.
It's a coordinate system, like the Cartesian coordinates you learned about in high school. Put the pen down. Tell the turtle to move to (0, 0), then to (0, 100), (100, 100), (100, 0) and back to (0, 0). You just drew a square.
We were doing this in the 70s. In the 90s it isn't rocket science.
After turtle graphics came QuickDraw which moved this idea into the operating system. This was the core of what made the Mac a graphic personal computer. It was built from the ground up with the assumption that an unseen turtle would display *all* the information users see.
The basic operations are PenUp, PenDown, MoveTo and DrawString. QuickDraw is richer, but everything builds on and around these basic concepts.
Millions of programmers already know how to make the turtle do its thing. Anyone who writes HTML can easily master these concepts if (here's the catch) web browsers understood this kind of language. They don't.
We want nice looking sites with moving text, that load quickly for all users, primarily for brochures and tasteful advertising. The text-gifs that clutter the net now are begging for a better solution. QuickDraw-like graphics with simple animation is what makes sense. I wrote about this in Macromedia Flash, 6/5/97.
Java is bull. We don't need to roll in a whole virtual machine just for turtle graphics. Microsoft and Netscape's browsers are lost trying to be multimedia players. Flash is what we need. I have an idea! Let's not wait for Microsoft and Netscape. Let's ask Macromedia to hook the Flash editor up to web content tools, let's ask the tool vendors to work with Macromedia, and let's get on with it.
PS: I don't own any Macromedia stock.