I’m Sorry, Are You From The Past?


This is a pretty classic little vignette: a Microsoft senior typography researcher decides that he’s going to create some standards-compliant web pages, so he asks his colleague the “Platform Architect of the Internet Explorer Platform team” what application he should use to create them.

And the answer was “Notepad”. The results are predictably horrifying and barely legible but they do, in fairness, validate.

The Platform Architect of the Platform Platform Platform apparently stopped blogging recently because he was “tired of the negativity” but honestly, if you’re telling colleagues to use the worst editor your company has ever shipped you’ve got that coming. And, man, it’s hard to believe that in 2008 the best web authoring tool that Platform Platform Architect Platform guy has on offer, even from the double-secret unreleased internal pre-alpha tools Microsoft might have, is a toy editor that’s barely changed since Windows 1.0.

It puts their erstwhile participation in actual standards bodies in a certain perspective, I think.


  1. Posted September 28, 2008 at 5:40 am | Permalink

    I don’t see how your conclusion follows at all from anything before it.

    Joe Random at Microsoft wants to understand web technologies better and make a standards-compliant page that he really understands. He asks a guy on the IE team, who tells him that he can do this with Notepad or Visual Studio, which is a reasonable answer (adding Expression Web into the answer makes it basically complete from a Microsoft perspective, but maybe IE guy didn’t even know about Expression Web; it’s a big company). Joe Random decides to use Notepad instead of VS, and then finds to his surprise that this is a primitive tool.

    This might tell you something about Joe Random, but it’s hard to see how it goes much beyond that.

  2. mhoye
    Posted September 28, 2008 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    You cannot seriously tell me that you didn’t get to the paragraph that reads “You can’t use any really visual tool to do this work – they all end up inserting chunks of their own code, which is inefficient and impossible to understand” and gag a little. Or “my experience with authoring standards-compatible pages by hand – and the fact that there isn’t any other acceptable way – really got me thinking.”

    That, frankly, stinks, particularly when the guy’s getting his advice from the IE Platform Architect, who is also writing webpages in notepad. If you are in the mood for stfuing, these are the nubs you’re looking for.

  3. Posted September 28, 2008 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Well, the main guy clear is all nubbish and would be best served by stfuing. But I mean, you can’t read that post and think, “This guy is an expert on web technology.” You read it and think, “This guy presumably knows a lot about fonts or whatever it is he know a lot about, but he doesn’t know shit about HTML or CSS.”

    The half-tossed-off advice he got from an IE guy (who, let’s remember, is architecting a web browser, not necessarily spending a lot of time writing web pages) is that Notepad or Visual Studio will let him write valid markup, which is correct and reasonable advice. (If somebody came up to me and was all, “I’ve been using FrontPage to make web pages, but I want to make standards-compliant web pages and really UNDERSTAND what I’m doing,” I’d tell them to use a text editor, too.)

    That said, I am often unduly suspicious of tooling; I look askance at people who don’t understand what their tools are doing underneath them.

  4. Posted September 29, 2008 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    WordStar 6.0 (DOS) custom-installed is the finest text editor to be had. One would need be a dinosaur from the1980s to use it… and I’ve got my chops! Microcrap Word is a printing buffer.

  5. mhoye
    Posted September 29, 2008 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    You are also from the past.