The web is a big beautiful mess and we love it.
We’ve has come a long way from the web’s origins as hyperlinked text for scientist to share. We’ve collectively learned a lot about what makes the web so powerful and how to exploit it in that short time. We’ve also made mistakes, swinging off course to unhelpful design extremes, only to swing back and subsequently grow in our understanding as a result.
This situation has led Christian Heilmann to say
Let’s stop the rat-race and concentrate on building working sturdy solutions
In fact, I eventually reminded myself of mature (and so boring) jQueryMobile and jQueryUI which both state PE as a design principle but are not MV* in themselves. T3js also mentioned PE but I’ve not explored how much it is supported. I’m interested to observe that many MV* solutions are not the same as the original Smalltalk MVC which was where I first experienced it. Some like the Flow architecture are much closer with no 2 way binding.
I suspect the reason for this lack of PE is as others have observed, namely with so many developer’s now coming to front end web dev many bring experiences of good practices from large software systems and naturally want to apply them. I’m not saying hard won principles such as modularity, separation of concerns, loose coupling and even MVC itself are bad. Rather the narrow focus on the software engineering with Javascipt can means we easily lose sight of strengths of the web and code ourselves into a corner.
The recent discussion on PE is distilling the concept that the web has it’s own strengths which derive from it’s heritage of sharing scientific information. These include hassle-free access by disparate people on varied devices. The web can do this like nothing else can and PE, responsive design and accessibility are key factors in ensuring it delivers on it’s promise. By supporting a wide inclusive range of devices and user capabilities we gain incredible reach that is of benefit both commercially and individually.
As PPK said
We’ve lost sight of how to capitalise on that strength, though, and have to find our way back home.
I’m confident we will. My current thoughts are that PE is a key part of what makes the web work best and encompasses both mobile-first responsive design and accessibility. Design for small screens and enhance for larger ones. Design for basic inclusive access and enhance for optimal personalised experience. Taken together and with other techniques that make few assumptions will be able to reap the benefits of the web’s strength.
Perhaps someone will write a dissertation to explain this user focussed aspect of the web to sit along side Roy Fielding’s “Architectural Styles and the Design of Network-based Software Architectures”. Any volunteers?