I remember the 90’s. I was a wizard using Dreamweaver, and I was one of the best Cold Fusion developers in the world. I could table up a website in my sleep. I could output an Access database with my eyes closed. I rocked tags most people web developers today have never even heard of.
Then came div tags. Div tags were great back in the day. It allowed your website content to reformat based upon the size of the browser. We had almost four different screen sizes back then, so that was pretty important. Admittedly, most of the browsers didn’t support div tags the same way, so presentation was severely hampered. Ultimately, tables won out in the front-end coding world.
If you wanted a content management system, you needed to custom build it. Tools like Joomla, WordPress, or even Movable Type were years away, so any sort of coding required custom development. This is one of the primary reasons I was so focused on Cold Fusion. To tell you the truth, I still like Cold Fusion, but that’s neither here nor there. One of the interesting, niche tricks I had up my sleeve was my mastery of Server Side Includes. This technology was ridiculously fast, and provided the ability of parting out straight HTML.
When the modern CMS systems like WordPress / Joomla came onto the stage, people quickly pushed them to be more than they were meant to be. These were originally blogging engines, for very small blogs. But there was such a desire and need for something better, that in many ways, these systems were left to try and keep up with demand. Not a great place to be in… though not a bad place either.
But here is where things start to get old again. Speed. For a long time, the connection we cared most about in the web development world was that of our servers to the internet as a whole. Our servers needed to be able to handle tens of thousands of requests without getting bogged down. Today, this is simply no longer the issue. The issue we run into now is that the connections at people’s homes are SO fast, that the processing power of our servers cannot keep up with the instantaneous results web visitors expect. Any sort of server processing time slows website performance. But serving static files… there is the key; not to mention static files are significantly easier to get onto a CDN for even faster delivery.
So here we are, at Saderra, starting to build static websites again. We even dusted off some of my older SSI frameworks to aid in this process. Tools Like Middleman and Jekyll are handy to aid in the development process, and their support of markdown is interesting. However, I sometimes wonder if these tools exist for developers that aren’t really comfortable controlling the issues of static websites. For me… I feel right at home. I was even tempted to dust off Dreamweaver again (just kidding).
The proof is in the pudding though. Static sites load faster, perform better in SEO, and provide a significantly better user experience. What’s old is new again. Sometimes invention takes us down a bad path, and the market always corrects.