From URL to Interactive

 
A List Apart – Illustration by Dougal MacPherson

A List Apart – Illustration by Dougal MacPherson

 

A List Apart, October 25, 2018
By Aaron Gustafson

What’s happening under the hood?

“Years ago, my colleague Molly Holzschlag used a variant of this story to explain the importance of understanding our tools. When it comes to complex machines like cars, knowing how they work can really get you out of a jam when things go wrong. Fail to understand how they work and you could end up, well, buzzard food.

At the time, Molly and I were trying to convince folks that learning HTML, CSS, and JavaScript was more important than learning Dreamweaver. Like many similar tools, Dreamweaver allowed you to focus on the look and feel of a website without needing to burden yourself with knowing how the HTML, CSS, and JavaScript it produced actually worked. This analogy still applies today, though perhaps more so to frameworks than WYSIWYG design tools.

If you think about it, our whole industry depends on our faith in a handful of “black boxes” few of us fully understand: browsers. We hand over our HTML, CSS, JavaScript, images, etc., and then cross our fingers and hope they render the experience we have in our heads. But how do browsers do what they do? How do they take our users from a URL to a fully-rendered and interactive page?”

Read the article »