I’ve continued working on the PHP scripts for the new Mithras site. It’s slow, because I don’t do much development work in PHP. The reason for doing this is so that I can work on the site from anywhere, work or home; and so that it will support things such as footnotes, not found in standard HTML.
I was struck today by the conviction that HTML is travelling in the wrong direction. I remember the first HTML. It was simple, and anyone could master it. Today I learned that all of the attributes on the horizontal rule element, the plain old <hr> tag, are to be unsupported by HTML 5. If you wanted a single line, all you had to do was <hr size=1>. Now, to achieve the same effect … well, I did a google search, and had to experiment to find a CSS syntax that would work.
There is a disease that affects software products. It happens when the developers forget that 99% of the time, the user is doing a few simple things; and start concentrating on the 1%. In this case the HTML developers are so busy trying to separate presentation from content — a mantra of much software development, and not a bad thing — that they have forgotten that the first, most important thing is that creating a web page should be SIMPLE!!! Idiots.
I’m still under the weather, but I also opened Daryn Lehoux’s book on ancient weather and calendars, and made a start. I was deeply impressed by the opening pages, which gave a remarkably clear reason why such calendars were necessary, and nicely anchored it in farming in modern society. Someone give this man a professorship: he has managed to produce a seminal piece of work on a very difficult, highly technical subject, and has done it in such a way that any reasonably educated man may get up to speed. Marvellous!