On the vaunted robustness of the web

(This is a short repost of a series of tweets.)

Anybody who looks at how durable and robust old websites are when old apps and Word documents aren’t and thinks that making apps in HTML and JS will make them more robust is misunderstanding what is going on. Old websites still work because they are simple and uncoupled from their rendering.

To be able to make apps in HTML/JS you need to increase the complexity of the formats and APIs to fit and couple it tightly to specific software and OS platforms, which makes the app fragile again. Robustness and adaptability isn’t a function of open vs proprietary nor is it a format-specific feature.

Robustness and adaptability are a direct consequence of simplicity and loose coupling. Lose those two features and things start breaking again.

The web we are creating is just as impermanent as old apps or documents. Robustness wasn’t a feature of HTML but of what we were doing with HTML.