The Web is More Than a Document Viewer

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 1 min read

The Web is for More Than Document Viewing | CSS-Tricks

A super-capable open web is excellent. It means we can build things on open standards on the open web rather than things on proprietary technologies in walled gardens. It’s the better place to build things. URLs alone are a reason to build on the web.

I too was terribly perplexed by Ken Kocienda’s tweet last weekend, and Chris effectively communicates my thoughts on the matter, so read this piece linked above first.

There is this feeling from some folks that the web is meant for documents, that JavaScript was a mistake, and that native apps are how everything should be made. I fundamentally disagree with all three parts of that sentence, and I think if we’re being honest, so do most people making statements to that effect. As Chris Coyier points out, Ken made this statement on a web app and then linked to his company’s hiring site where you could fill out a web form and submit it to get a job. “Document viewer”-only, indeed.

Especially now as we’ve been questioning the power platform holders have over the phones and computers they sell us, for better and worse, the web is a Wild West where anything can create something and distribute it. Even the people arguing that Apple and Google have 100% authority to block anything they want from their app stores would not go so far as to say that Apple and Google should start blocking access to certain websites in their browsers.

The web began largely as a glorified document viewer, but it’s evolved from that and frankly hasn’t been anywehre near that for longer than I’ve been alive (and I’m old enough to have faint memories of the first Bush administration!). Are native apps great? Yeah! Can web apps be slow? Sure! But I’ll gladly defend the position that the web has enabled tons of magical things, and most of those were because people were able to use it to do a whole hell of a lot more than read hyperlinked static documents.