Mourning the Lack of HTML UI Controls

By Deane Barker on July 14, 2004

Knobs and Trees: A great rant about how HTML hasn’t really gone anywhere for years and Web UIs lag woefully behind client UIs, much as Joel Solsky stated about a month ago or so.

I think the essential problem with browsers is that users have not demanded of vendors […] that they provide declarative tags for the things that are currently implemented using scripting. Why don’t we have tags for menus, for trees and so on? […]

HTML has largely stagnated because the W3C et al […] because there has not been a systematic program to look at applications (web applications, applets, web-enabled applications) as the prime source of uses cases for new tags for HTML.



  1. Bullsht. Who the hell wants knobs and levers crawling out of their browser window? I already get totally pssed off with the cretins who change the colour of my scrollbar. My UI belongs to me, not to somebody who hasn’t got enough real content to catch my attention, and so thinks he can do it with spurious bells and whistles like flash and stuff…

  2. But what if they were standardized and part of the spec? Do you feel the same way about select lists and checkboxes? If they’re part of standard HTML, and they function the same way across browsers, where’s the harm?

  3. That’s what XML and CSS are for. As far as I am concerned HTML and XML and CSS are purely for displaying content, and shouldn’t affect the user beyond the browser window.

  4. I don’t understand why people don’t see this as a good idea. Why are tree or menu tags a bad idea, while lists and drop down boxes are fine? Certain UI elements have become standard across most every operating system. They’ve shown they’re worth and effectiveness. Why should a developer have to resort to client-side hijinks when all he really wants is a dropdown menu for navigation, or a tree list of choices.

    Advanced UI is part of what enables advanced applications. Yes, you can usually “grow it at home” or maybe steal it from someone else, but standards for standard interfaces would go along way towards making things run smoother for everyone.

    Of course this is assuming: 1. we could all agree on a standard method of entering data for and displaying these forms of UI widgets, and 2. we could get the various browser manufacturers to implement them so that they behaved the same way and degraded nicely.

  5. Much of Web work is done by server-side folks who are not interested in the front end- they live and work the database, and middleware. Some poo poo a fancy front end as a waste of time because the real work was done “behind the scenes” and it’s not right the GUI gets all the credit.

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