The blogosphere is alive with mumblings about Steve Yegge‘s rants. I haven’t read them all, but the one I have are, though lengthy, well worth a read. I point you in particular to this one:

Blogger’s Block #3: Dreaming in Browser Swamp

Some real gems in there:

It turns out if you dig deep into Mozilla (aka Netscape, aka Firefox, aka SeaMonkey, aka SwampMonster, I mean the thing really has way too many farging names already), you’ll find that it actually is a relatively full-featured platform. It’s not quite as general-purpose as an OS (or Java), but it’s certainly big and hairy enough to be making threats in that general direction.

We hear you brother, but wait…

…my God, it’s sooooooo ugly. It’s got well over a decade of ugly packed in there. “Hello, World” in Mozilla is six or seven files in as many different languages. I kid you not. It’s worse than Hello, World was back in the Petzold days of Win32 programming. You have your XUL file and your JavaScript file and your CSS file and your manifest.rdf and your i18n.something and I can’t remember what all else. And then you have to build them together (using some other files) to make even more files: a JAR file and an XPI file at a minimum. That’s one gnarly-ass introductory program.

Yes, we feel your pain. It’s a bit unfair to compare a Hello World extension to printing on the console in Python. Try building Hello World in QT or GTK and packaging it up into something usable. It’s a good point though. In the age of Web Applications, all that work seems laborious for the developer compared with uploading a PHP script. And end users are getting used to not installing anything any more.

There is always a bright side however. On JavaScript:

For one thing, despite JavaScript’s inevitable quirks and flaws and warts and hairy boogers and severe body odor, it possesses that magical property that you can get stuff done really fast with it. Well, if you can find any halfway decent tools and libraries for it, that is. Which you can’t, not without effort.

And so on it goes, taking digs at other technologies and how things are less than ideal in the browser programming world. Regardless, Mozilla and Firefox did breathe new life into the Web programming that really set the scene for the quest to make things nicer for all of us.

Warts ‘N All Magic

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