A quick rant on web development and elegant solutions10-10-2011 8:48 PM permalink
I think the (over)reaction to Dart, both before and after it's announcement, shows 2 important things.
- The web development community is desperately looking for an answer to it's problems.
- No solution will be well received unless it involves real change across ALL the major browsers.
When confronted with these alternative language tools or even the new proposals for ES Harmony, people keep saying "syntax isn't the problem". I personally agree with that, but I'm also realizing it's the wrong mantra to respond with. Syntax is a problem. But it's not the most important one. It's not the one that's causing us the most pain right now. The real problem is browsers. Period.
We want to do more. We want to bring kickass apps to the web. But we can't because we don't have the capabilities. Dart doesn't solve that problem. Better languages will ensure that more people can work on the web in the style that they're comfortable with. Better tools will ensure that we can push our current capabilities to the limit, faster and easier. But it doesn't give us new capabilities. Only an agreement between all browser vendors to make their products *better* can do that. Anything else is just a band-aid.
I'm reminded of that twitter rant by Joe Hewitt a while back.
"I want desperately to be a web developer again, but if I have to wait until 2020 for browsers to do what Cocoa can do in 2010, I won’t wait."
That's the real issue. And meanwhile, introducing new languages has it's own challenges. We're fighting a big problem. But we're doing it by creating new ones. Maybe those new ones are preferable to some people. But as programmers, I think we can do better. Part of our job is to look for the most elegant solution to a set of problems. One that is simple, powerful, appeals to the widest range of people and is as forward thinking as possible. Why haven't we been able to do that in this situation?