The World Wide Web is a fickle place. Obsolete software is quickly replaced in favour of more optimised solutions while changing trends continue to evolve the landscape of web development.
It can be easy to get carried away with the latest technology or gimmick, but many of these don’t last the test of time. As all developers will know, the history of the web is littered with failed attempts to create revolutionary technologies. Thankfully, many of these are now a distant memory, but lest we forget. Here’s some of those old web technologies that we’re happy to see the back of. They may still be around in some dark corner of the web, but they no longer serve a purpose. Let the nostalgia begin…
Proprietary, non-standard code
Remember when Microsoft launched Internet Explorer back in 1995? It was a challenging period for the software giant who were competing against the smaller provider Netscape Navigator. In this David and Goliath battle, Microsoft made some huge blunders in an attempt to overthrow the competition. Proprietary, non-standard HTML was one such disaster which was created to work in only IE. Rather than having the desired effect, developers weren’t willing to limit a site to just one browser and the idea flopped, big time.
Endless multimedia choices
In web development, choice is often a good thing, but that wasn’t the case for multimedia software of the past. There may have been endless options – QuickTime, RealPlayer, Windows Media Players and so on – but these were all as bad as each other. It was a terrible time to post any sort of multimedia to a site where users would have to have the corresponding software installed in order to watch said video. The quality of streaming was just as shabby with tiny, pixelated videos and tin-can audio.
Flash is still found across the web but at one time it was far more dominant. Any site wanting to add animation, games or video players would often require a Flash package. For developers, this was the dark age where a 10-second clip could take hours to create. Flash content isn’t only time consuming to develop, the software packages were also a massive outlay. Packages such as Adobe were made even more expensive thanks to those regular updates. Of course it’s a powerful tool but that brought complexity which meant the average novice and blogger couldn’t even consider multimedia without the help of a developer.
The Flash intro is another dying method which was hugely desirable during the onset of the noughties. It did have its benefits with some websites created in a striking and unique way using this software. But these were the minority as many sites with Flash Intros were poorly designed and annoying to navigate. The user was forced along the journey, rather than having a freedom to navigate for themselves. Ultimately, it wasn’t viable as users wanted to seek out information and navigate quickly from page to page. The final nail in the coffin came when Apple wouldn’t allow Flash Player to run on iOS devices.
There was a time before open source CMS platforms such as WordPress and Drupal. Needless to say, it was an awful time. While major corporations enjoyed their own tailored CMS, the average site would have to make do with HTML. Whether you was publishing a blog article, or making a photo gallery, the added effort would take so much longer than the ease of a modern day CMS. Automation now makes our life easier and we have to be thankful that static sites no longer dominate the web.