The future of web display

In the following article I would like to talk a bit about speed and efficiency with regards to the internet and specifically that of how content is displayed as well as where our priorities lie with regards to this.I would like to start by looking at the web in terms of where it came from, where it is, and where it is going from the perspective of content display and delivery.

From humble beginnings

In its early days Hypertext Markup Language was used as by means by which researchers could universally document and link their work through basic styling, syntax and hyperlinks. HTML was never intended to do what we push it to do today.

Unfortunately though, by the time we realized the direction HTML was going – it was already too late to rectify the standards.  The internet is a fantastic means by which to connect the world – but HTML is not a great medium by which to do it (in my humble opinion) – or at least where it is now.

Where we are now

Now granted it is difficult to label HTML with a statement like that, but the following practices of HTML hold true.

For one, using a cascading style sheet system for layout and presentation of the whole Hypertext Transfer Protocol such as css is another shaky language for the amount of preference that it is been given.

My main concerns around css is that of stylistic limitation in its vanilla form and cross browser/device inconsistency on both mobile and desktop clients. And to be fair, the only way to really bring about this kind of cross platform consistency is the use of a virtual machine platform such as JAVA, which in itself is not perfect in its cross client functionality – but for entirely different reasons to that of css. Fortunately though, jQuery seems to have stabilized JavaScript with regards to how it responds to multiple browsers.

I have been working with the philosophy for a long time that one needs to minify and uglify css and JavaScript files into the most effectively microscopic sizes, just to shave milliseconds off the doomsday clock of initial uncached site loading time.

Surely we should not have to compromise as much as we do to get things to load quicker?

Fortunately for us though, internet speeds are getting faster, Google is getting fatter and browsers are getting smarter.I sure as he’ll don’t want to be left behind when the next big thing hits the net.

Where we are going

I personally believe that we have come too far with HTML and css to abandon it now. I also think that we have not scratched the surface of what HTML5 is possible of. But I do think there are a couple of things that are slowing us down that we often refuse to compromise on.

One of which is that of quality in display.

In a world of retina display smartphones and HDTV. We (as developers) cannot afford to be left behind in this regard.

My proposal is this: let us leave the JPEGs and the PNGs for the ms-paint boffins and move onto something a little more mature. What I am suggesting is the use of vectors. And yes they have been around for years. And yes people do use them all the time. But why not take full advantage of browser algorithm rendering and only use SVGs in the display of your sites? Yes, it is going to take some time to convert all your PNGs into SVGs. But there is already fantastic online and native software available to do this. On top of this, I can garentee that it will get easier to make this move as technology advances and display moves towards vectors if not only for the sake of smartphones and High-definition devices.

For now though, I think it is better to send a nice neat calculation than a cluttered binary HD image file and let the user admire the clarity and speed of your site from their retina iPAD.

Ultimately, you need to decide whether your priority is a 5mb image or a 5kb dyslexic css file (that has been so uglified that your console starts throwing errors). It may just be worth your while to put in the extra mile to make sure that your site is “vectorized”.

I will leave you with a proverb that I thumb-sucked and you can make up your own mind about what is best for you.

“Staying with the pack is no longer good enough.  Either you are ahead – or you are left behind”


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