The web’s grain

Friday, 24 Feb 2006

Ben Hammersley on his recent move to iWeb:

I’m using iWeb, and I like it. There I admitted it. Forgive me, web purists, but this is really nice. […] The whole thing is frictionless – and frictionless tools are what I want this year.

And he goes on:

[Y]ou’ll have noticed that the pages are unusually colourful. There’s a lot of photography and typesetting not usually found in, say, one of my Movable Type based weblogs, or in the feeds, and each page is different. This […] has produced a load of emails complaining about the URL structure, and the horrendous markup. This is very vexing, and it points to a sickness in web development today: the confusion between a technology useful for developers, and one good for their readers.

It’s worth pointing out: […] validating XHTML 1.0 Strict pages and CSS, to Ajax, Atom […] are of no benefit whatsoever to the audience. They’re solely for, gloriously for, wonderfully for, the benefit of the developer. [… B]ut does the average punter actually care that a site validates or not? […] Not at all. Validation just makes it easier for me to build.

Is that so?

I unsubscribed him shortly after he switched to iWeb. The first annoyance I noticed was that his feed is crippled. That alone, I can live with – I rather prefer full-text, but it’s not a political issue. However, to add insult to injury, he forces me to visit pages on which the text is calcified in images, meaning that the font and colour overrides I’ve set in my browser do not apply. And now he claims I wasn’t getting any value from any of that egg-head stuff anyway. Any more ways to diss his readers?

I also vehemently disagree with the sentiment that nobody cares about Amazon’s URIs: I find myself cursing at the mile-long cruft whenever I want to paste a link to a book. Conversely I often compose addresses blindly on sites where they have a logical structure, such as when looking for something on,, or URIs are the primary user interface of a site.

Why not publish in PDF if you’re going to go against the web’s grain anyway? That gets you frictionless publishing tools.

Via Leslie Michael Orchard.