I’m So Old: Web Edition

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Time can be a funny thing. I still remember discovering HTML, CSS, and JavaScript coding. I still remember my first college programming course. I still remember my first day at my first coding job, then my first day at my second coding job, and then my first day at Mozilla. I still remember my first day coding for MetaMask. This year marks my 20th year as a professional software engineer and it's happened in the blink of an eye.

Every once in a while I will make an old programming reference to a much younger engineer and then realize they have no idea what I'm talking about.

I'm so old...

  • Webpage layouts were being done with <table>s and this new "CSS float" property was becoming the new standard
  • Rounded corners were achieved via images and VML hacks for Internet Explorer
  • FTP was the best way to upload websites changes
  • SVN and copying its trunk was the best versioning tool
  • alert and confirm were the standard for "modals"
  • Firebug was the best debugging tool available
  • The "standard" for getting videos to play properly was finding the right codec to install
  • ActionScript knowledge was as valuable as JavaScript knowledge
  • Dreamweaver was best in class text editor and design tool
  • XML was the future of data structures
  • Mobile-first? Mobile didn't exist
  • Reactive navigation? How about Java Applets...
  • ...or even different <img src=""> upon mouseover and mouseleave!
  • Want to code a desktop app with web tech? Try Adobe Air!
  • NPM stood for "not performant, man"
  • Voting on a poll meant the page would refresh
  • "Social media" meant HotOrNot.com
  • The love sound of the web was a 56k modem connection purrrrr
  • Disabling right-click enforced image security
  • Bitmap (.bmp) was a viable image format
  • JavaScript had a competitor called JScript
  • SpyJax'ing let you detect where your user had been
  • Cookies were the pinnacle of user tracking
  • Social media wall? It's called a "guestbook"...
  • ...and a friends list? It's called a "web ring'
  • Search engine optimization was spamming the <title> with keywords=

Whew, those where the days. How old are you in web?

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Discussion

  1. I’m so old…

    • Authors had no control over how anything was displayed, and users could make any element be whatever font face, size, and color they wanted.
    • I remember when table support was first announced.
    • Also when image floating was first made possible, a couple of years before CSS existed.

    I am not, however, so old in web that I remember the web before you could inline images; I missed that by a few months.

  2. Old enough to remember the IE6 transparency fix.

  3. I’m “single pixel gif” old.

  4. Will

    – DHTML (Dynamic HTML) was a dark art.
    – XHTML and wrapping your inline JavaScript in //<![CDATA[ just in case.
    – Rounded corners in IE via behavior:url(border-radius.htc)

  5. JDogg

    Someone should show these guys how to do rounded corners. I think it’d really bring their Web site up to the next level.

    https://madareadriving.com/

  6. – “Under construction” banners were a tiny craft in and of themselves.
    – B and I tags were the tools for styling text. BLINK was already being frowned upon, though.
    – The 1×1 transparent GIF (no PNG format yet) to size TABLE cells.

  7. Ben Otero

    Suckerfish Dropdowns (https://www.htmldog.com/articles/suckerfish/dropdowns/)
    clearfix hack
    sIFR

  8. I’m so old…

    • Authors had no control over how anything was displayed, and users could make any element be whatever font face, size, and color they wanted.
    • I remember when table support was first announced.
    • Also when image floating was first made possible, a couple of years before CSS existed.

    I am not, however, so old in web that I remember the web before you could inline images; I missed that by a few months.

  9. AlienSKP

    I remember rounded corner with images :D

    And flash intro
    And frameset with a side frame for the menu
    And “website optimized for Internet Explorer 5.5” and other silly punchlines

  10. NaGeL

    jeez thank you for making me feel old…
    I remember developing sites inside tables tables inside tables…

    and 56k modem is still best sound ever!

  11. Jules

    Oh boy!
    Let me add some.
    Flash was a pretty common way to build website.
    Flash was more capable than JavaScript when it comes to animation.
    Macromedia existed.
    There was an IE6 hack to fix png transparency.
    There was browser version conditional loading for css files (mostly for IE).
    You could get a webmaster certification.
    I’ll stop here.
    Thanks for making me go down memory lane

  12. Dan F

    How old am I in web terms? IE was gold standard and Netscape was “Ugh, we have to support netscape? IT SUCKS”. This is 25 years ago now.

  13. I remember Flash ActionScript, IE5 CSS filters and scripts inside CSS, IE6 hacks with “zoom: 1”, HTMLs with tons of CSS-like properties.

    It feels weird in this days CSS “restoring depreciated IE5 effects” with CSS Paint API, tons of logic, calculations, and effects, adding security considerations that was removed decades ago.

  14. I am comp.infosystems.www.authoring.html years old. AltaVista and GeoCities years old. Matt’s Script Archive and cgi-bin/counter.pl years old. HoTMaiL years old, spelled just like that.

    <MARQUEE> and <FONT COLOR="FF0000"> years old. “Under Construction” and “Get Netscape 3.0!” button years old. Reading the HTML 1.0 and 2.0 specs start to finish years old. Glassdog, Kvetch, Lance, Zeldman, Kottke, David Siegel, Shauna Wright, the {fray}, k10k, HELL.COM years old.

    I see you.

    (sorry for the triple posting, I kept screwing up the formatting syntax)

  15. Peter Horvath

    – MS Frontpage was “the” webpage editor,
    – To see the yellow smile on Acid 2 Test was the satisfaction,
    – Everybody had an ugly website with a banner frame at the top, because it was hosted at a free hosting provider,
    – Mouse cursor and scrollbar colors were changed,
    – In winter “snow” was falling on almost every site made of ugly gifs,
    – The important stuff was written in red and was blinking,
    – Intro page to choose from flash or no-flash version of the site,

    &ltbody onload="alert('Hello ' + prompt('What is your name?'))">
  16. Richard

    I’m so old my first website I worked on as a “professional” https://web.archive.org/web/19981212024801/http://www.eurocard.nl/ 26 years ago had shadows entirely done with framesets!

  17. I am framesets old.

  18. Dan Wellman

    I’m so old…

    Some of my first coding was in VBScript

    MySpace was cool

    I used IE to download Netscape Navigator

    Web ferret was the way to find web sites

  19. ronen magid

    I’m so old, I could whistle data to my 300 baud modem. 56.6K? that was sci-fi when I began.

  20. Not Problem My?

  21. NiB

    I’m so old i made video games for Oric Atmos

  22. Dylan

    Geocities / angelfire

    HotMetal Pro

    CSS hacks to target IE5, 5.5, 6, and 7 (* html anyone?)

    Zara 3D for spinning 3D text

    phpBB

  23. OMG, time has gone by so fast and I still feel like all of this was still happening yesterday!

  24. I’m so old that my first website was sliced up in ImageReady and built into a mess of nested tables in Dreamweaver. Navigation had onmouseover effects. Styles were inline and limited to fonts.

  25. Kel

    Ugh.. so old. HTML wasn’t even invented yet. So old I can’t even my CIS login.

  26. Lefteris

    Not my first site but the older I could find.
    Beat that.
    https://web.archive.org/web/19971022114953/http://www.helios.gr/

  27. Lara

    I’m so old
    – to create a text file using the command copy con file.txt. Dont forget a ^Z at the end.
    – to chat with my neighbought using command net send. And spam him by putting the command into an infinite loop.
    – to create a virtual drive in the PC’s memory. Yes, the 56k modem sound is the most excellent sound. And the sound from 1.44, 1.2 MB diskette is the worst one you can expect.

    Those was the day…

  28. David

    I’m so old that our first ISP didn’t support graphic-based browsers so I could only view web pages I built in Netscape locally and via Lynx live.

  29. Matt

    I’m so old that I actually still use Dreamweaver to edit code, and use its built-in FTP client to upload the files. As recently as today. (I’ve been using Dreamweaver for 23 years, back when it was still Macromedia. I’ve yet to find a better option for downloading a file, editing, and uploading/overwriting. All done quickly in a single app.)

  30. Alejandro

    I’m so old that I remember
    – to browse and download everything I visited like gold.
    – To visit free FTP sites to search of useful files like a treasure hunter.
    – To pass hours using the Gopher protocol to navigate throw through categories.
    – To wait minutes to view webpages created by graphic designers full of images.

  31. Ah, the nostalgia of early web development! It’s amazing to think back to those days of Microsoft FrontPage, HotMetal Pro and hand-coding HTML/CSS in Notepad! Those were the days of crafting websites with meticulous care, where every line of code felt like a brushstroke on a digital canvas :D

    It’s incredible how far we’ve come since then, with the evolution of web technologies shaping the digital landscape we know today.

    Thanks for sharing this trip down memory lane – it’s a reminder of the passion and dedication that has fuelled our journey in web development.

    Here’s to embracing the past while embracing the exciting future ahead!

  32. Derek

    I’m so old… that I used to apply the zoom:1; CSS rule in IE-specific stylesheets to trigger hasLayout :)

  33. Chris

    I am “Client faxes some pages from his print catalogue and wants his *professional website’ to look ‘something like that'” old xD

    I am “I made my first ‘homepages’ on an Amiga 500 (w/ 20 MB Hard Disk!)” old.

    I am IRC (mIRC was amazing and Eggdrop Bots were magic) old.

    I am “I worked at the first Internet Cafe here from day #1” old (local newspaper had an article about us: “The Internet is coming to Salzburg!”) :D

  34. Andy

    Can I borrow a spacer.gif?

  35. Andrew Tite

    I remember when I started as a professional web dev in 2000 and CSS didn’t exist for us yet. We had to use little vanilla JavaScript functions to handle just changing the menu items onmouseover. When CSS came out we were like “holy crap that’s cool”.
    I’m old enough I remember programming in QBasic on Windows 3.1 haha

  36. Marian

    Thanks to the author, thanks to everyone!!! For drops of youth. Countless. ”Oldies but goodies”!!!

  37. OK…I’m so old that I’ve seen my first computer
    (Amstrad CPC464 w/ Cassette-Drive)
    which I’ve had my first contact with coding with in a museum.
    I’m even so old that I not only remember the distinction between XT & AT
    but considered those so-called IBM-compatible machines as slightly advanced typewriters!
    Yes, I learned coding on an Commodore Amiga 500 in the pre-internet era where a book and the AMIGA-Magazine were my only sources to increase my understanding.
    The first software I paid money for (~80 Deutsche Mark) was the OMA-Assembler (Optimised Macro Assembler) because a C compiler for Amiga was unimaginably expensive!

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