- Sanchke's Blog

Html Standards Are Shit

HTTP, HTML, and Javascript hold a monopoly on the internet’s engineering that limits further development.

I’ll be talking about the rise of each of these technologies. If you have a understanding of the history of each, feel free to skip those sections.

The rise of HTML

1990, the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) was pioneered by physicist Tim Berners-Lee so they could transfer information in a both human and machine readable format [1]. This was before the idea of the internet, so there was only the idea of having collections of HTML files was on floppy disks or tape reals. It was not actually popular among the physicists whom invented it [2]. For perspective, it took 4 years for tables, math, and forms to be implemented. If you were a physicist, you’d want tables, math, and forms way before you want to type < and > millions of times. These additional features were refered to as HTML+ [3].

Atlass, HTML became popular most likely due to the ease of use of HTTP. In 2000, HTML became the international standard (ISO/IEC 15445:2000) [4]. Large IT interests was stalling the development of the standard, to reach better agreements both commercially and logisitcally with the fast involving internet, the World Wide Web Consoritum (WC3) was established [4], this leaves us at HTML4. HTML5’s development began in 2004 under the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (WHATWG), another, smaller group of corporations that agreed WC3 was to big and too slow to develop the new standards [5].

The rise of HTTP

Mr. Berners-Lee, at the same time of making HTML was designing HTTP. His first draft included only the GET method [5]. A computer scientist by the name of Dave Ragget (the same guy whom also propsed HTML+) added header fields to the proposal, a mechanic that ligitmized the protocol. This led to the full adoption of HTTP/1.0 in 1996. Amazingly, Ragget also propsed a ‘lingering TCP’ technique to speed websites that wasn’t implemented until HTTP/2.0, nearly 20 years later. In addition Ragget was also one of the early advocates of having cryptography integrated in HTTP [6].

The further revisions of HTTP following the year of V1.0 publications finialized it as HTTP/1.1 in 1997.

The rise of Javascript

HTML and HTTP were being developed thoughout the 1990s by formal organizations via collaberations and corperate pipelines. However Javascript has a much more assertive background. I’ll take the paragraph directly from Wikipedia because I don’t think I could explain the up-rising better:

In 1993, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), a unit of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, released NCSA Mosaic, the first popular graphical Web browser, which played an important part in expanding the growth of the nascent World Wide Web. In 1994, a company called Mosaic Communications was founded in Mountain View, California and employed many of the original NCSA Mosaic authors to create Mosaic Netscape. However, it intentionally shared no code with NCSA Mosaic. The internal codename for the company’s browser was Mozilla, which stood for “Mosaic killer”, as the company’s goal was to displace NCSA Mosaic as the world’s number one web browser. The first version of the Web browser, Mosaic Netscape 0.9, was released in late 1994. Within four months it had already taken three-quarters of the browser market and became the main browser for the Internet in the 1990s. To avoid trademark ownership problems with the NCSA, the browser was subsequently renamed Netscape Navigator in the same year, and the company took the name Netscape Communications. Netscape Communications realized that the Web needed to become more dynamic. Marc Andreessen, the founder of the company believed that HTML needed a “glue language” that was easy to use by Web designers and part-time programmers to assemble components such as images and plugins, where the code could be written directly in the Web page markup.

tl;dr: Read it. I hate tl;drs.

Netscape Communications collaberated with Sun Microsystems (the makers of Java) to make this “glue language”. The collaberation was in Sun’s interest in order to compete with Microsoft for user adoption of Web tech. Piggybacking off of the success of Java, the language was called JavaScript [7]. Netscape also introduced a server-side javascript titled just that, in 1995. [8]

Check in later for the rest of the article!