I say, it’s OK to use HTML

May 31st, 2014

Jonas Downey, of Basecamp, on Signal vs. Noise:

It would surely be easier to do that with 8 simple, straightforward HTML files than with some custom WordPress installation that’s several versions out of date. So what if I have to repeat the navigation markup 8 separate times? It’s not that hard. We used to do it for much larger sites!

Please realize that I’m taking Jonas’ quote out of context for this purpose of making my own point. You should go read the entire post.

But his post reminded me of something about Barley CMS. HTML is, in and of itself, a highly extensible markup language. It is pretty powerful all on its own. So why add to it? So many tools add a bit of complexity around HTML that, some of the time, are simply not needed. For our CMS we started using PHP files for templates but kept backing up until we figured out a way to alleviate any need for any language other than HTML. You can build a fully functional web site with just HTML. This is this site’s HTML. Also, here is The Watercolor Gallery’s HTML. You can see this from our incomplete showcase of sites.

One more side point; Jonas mentions having “to repeat the navigation markup 8 times”. While I agree with him that this is no big deal — and that we used to simply have to live with it — we don’t need to live with it anymore. We use Hammer For Mac. Here’s a little thing we wrote up about that. However, even the latest Chrome beta (the most popular browser by an ever-growing margin) has made some progress on allowing HTML includes. So, who knows, maybe even HTML will be able to handle this problem and we can ditch Hammer.

The point of Jonas’ post was that sometimes tools can get in the way when the problem can be solved in a much easier way. He’s right, of course. And that’s what we‘ve tried to avoid with Barley CMS. We have tried to make it disappear.