Chris Wilson: Tales of Suckage and Awsomeness

Orde Saunders' avatarPublished: by Orde Saunders

Chris Wilson (@cwilso) was speaking at Full Frontal about how the web has evolved since the early 1990s, these are my notes from his talk.

1993: Mosaic - accessed the web via http and gopher. Windows didn't have a network stack, it was a 3rd party add on. Access was mostly via expensive dial up. Built by a group of college students - had never done this before and were making it up as they went along. Remit was to give academics access to resources.

  • Freedom to explore is a powerful thing.
  • Structure is a good thing.

Key foundation of the web is that everyone is an author. The competition to the web was gopher - this is a hierarchical content system where you paid for a licence for a server.

1994: SPRY - internet in a box. Had all the software you need to get you online.

IE 1.0 - added shortcuts, a symlink from your desktop to a web page.

1995: Internet Explorer 2.0 shipped. IE 3 added support for CSS and broke the browser into components. Netscape engineers introduced the <BLINK> after a drunken night out - true story. In revenge Microsoft engineers introduced <marquee> - the difference was they were stone cold sober.

  • Serendipity is good

In IE4 the rendering engine (trident) was a completely separate package. It wasn't going to have CSS support but IE3 shipped with CSS support so IE4 had to be backwards compatible. At this point if you resized Netscape it reloaded the page from the network but IE4 was much more dynamic with a live layout engine.

  • Dynamic > static
  • You don't always get to be the one who deliver on your own goals

IE4 was a very good browser but had some issues: hasLayout - the CSS box model didn't exist. This is the origin of quirks mode and Doctype.

  • Do it right first time (fail for the future)

IE5 - XMLHTTPRequest was introduced for Outlook web access. This was added into an Office DLL as it was maintained by a different team.

  • Have clear goals (be careful what you design as everything has side effects).

2001: We start to get mashups, the whole can be more than the sum of its parts.

IE7: This was a new browser from the ground up.

Web 2.0 isn't a sset of technoglies it's a user expectation.

  • Care about your user experience.

Why didn't the iPhone cause a mobile web explosion? None of the cool stuff was exposed to the browser - this is happening now.

  • Integration is key.

Today - when Chrome updates 1/4 of all users get the new version in the first day of a new release.

As you build experiences make them magical.