A Moiety of Reminiscence

Saturday, January 23, 2016 · 2 min read

I’m not old, but I’m not young either. There are some little details about the last decade’s websites that bring me a moiety of reminiscence. Some things have gotten better, some have gotten worse, and some are just different: but all of them bring back memories of being a curious middle schooler exploring the secrets of the Web.

Here are fifty things that remind me how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go.

When I was young…

  1. …you could learn HTML by clicking “view source”.
  2. …you wrote your own CSS, by hand.
  3. …responsive web design was still emerging, and needed copious JavaScript.
  4. …all languages that compiled to JavaScript were listed on Esolangs.org.
  5. …flat design hadn’t taken over. Skeuomorphism was the pretty stuff.
  6. …nobody minded using the browser’s default styles for input elements.
  7. …tables often had black double borders.
  8. …people used the <FONT> element and the BGCOLOR attribute.
  9. …there were two serious libraries: Underscore and MooTools.
  10. …IIFE was a newfangled trend.
  11. …Figuring out which key was pressed was a struggle.
  12. …cross-browser compatibility was harder. Polyfills were cleverer.
  13. …the best GUI editor was Sublime Text. The vim/emacs war was just as bad.
  14. …“front-end framework” was synonymous with “jQuery”.
  15. …you could right-click all images to save them.
  16. …many people wrote HTML elements and attributes in ALL CAPS.
  17. …people learned web programming from w3schools.
  18. …you either proudly supported IE or proudly didn’t.
  19. …too many sites had nested pull-down-on-hover menus.
  20. …links you’d already clicked appeared purple on most sites.
  21. …people started serious projects in PHP. On purpose.
  22. …your CSS used floats and event handlers, not flexbox or @media queries.
  23. …only Google minified and obfuscated JavaScript.
  24. …colors were bolder, undiluted by today’s weak (uh, subtle) pastel colors.
  25. …xkcd references were a lot 1337er.
  26. …userscripts and userstyles were a much bigger deal.
  27. …URLs had more question marks and ampersands and file extensions in them.
  28. …the OSX “close”, “minimize”, and “maximize” buttons were bigger.
  29. …there was no Node. Using jsc for command-line JS was a nifty hack.
  30. …long polling was a thing. No WebSockets.
  31. …developer tools were basically just ‘inspect element’ and a JS console.
  32. …your average developer knew how to manipulate the DOM without frameworks.
  33. …the hot tech projects had .com domains, not .io domains.
  34. …people set the LANGUAGE attribute on their <script> tags.
  35. …“mobile site” meant “annoying overlay prompting to install app”.
  36. …we used BBCode instead of Markdown.
  37. …you couldn’t search from the Safari address bar. There was a search bar.
  38. …there was more URL before the # than after.
  39. …we used screenshots of LaTeX documents for math; there was no MathJaX.
  40. …gradients. Enough said.
  41. …every website had some sort of sidebar.
  42. …rounded rectangles might have outnumbered cornered rectangles.
  43. …DOCTYPEs were gnarly beasts longer than Gettysburg Address.
  44. …the Google logo had serifs and a shadow. Google Doodles didn’t move.
  45. …most sites actually had www in their canonical URLs.
  46. …plenty of respectable projects had homepages on SourceForge.
  47. …image-based view counters were pretty hot.
  48. …everything was beginning to look like Bootstrap.
  49. …there were a lot more pop-ups.
  50. …table layouts were beginning to go out of fashion.
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