Friday, January 8th, 2010
Alex Russell has pontificated on the notion that View Source is not only good and important, but that it may be under attack.
Do you feel that view source added to the popularity of the Web? or that it was just a nice to have that is neither here nor there? Other technologies have tried to bolt it on (e.g. in Flex you can opt-in to view source) but opt-in to a developer flips a bit of “hmm no I will keep this to myself” for various reasons.
I personally feel like the ability to view source fit in perfectly with the culture of the Web, and was especially important early on. I am willing to bet that we have all learned from the notion of view source.
However, it is also true that in some ways our front ends are getting a lot more complex and by the time you run a compressor through, or a tool like GWT/Cappuccino/insert others there isn’t much to learn. Of course, on the back end all the code is hidden and we have found ways to learn there (big thanks to open source and communities that have sprung up).
The notion of view source is under attack. How hard to we try to fight it? How do we fight it?
Keep reading Alex’s post which has some good stuff such as:
To understand the importance of view-source, consider how people learn. Some evidence exists that even trained software engineers chose to work with copy-and-pasted example code. Participants in the linked study even expressed guilt over it the copy-paste-tweak method of learning, but guilt didn’t change the dynamic: a blank slate and abstract documentation doesn’t facilitate learning nearly as well as poking at an example and feeling out the edges and possibilities by doing. View-source provides a powerful catalyst to creating a culture of shared learning and learning-by-doing, which in turn helps formulate a mental model of the relationship between input and output faster. Web developers get started by taking some code, pasting it into a file, loading it in a browser and switching between editor and browser between even the most minor changes. This is a stark contrast with other types of development, notably those that impose a compilation step on development, in which the process of seeing what what done requires an intermediate action. In other words, immediacy of output helps build an understanding of how the system will behave, and ctrl-r becomes a seductive and productive way for developers to accelerate their learning in the copy-paste-tweak loop. The only required equipment is a text editor and a web browser, tools that are completely free.
Posted by Dion Almaer at 6:25 am