The Power of View Source

By Deane Barker on January 15, 2010

View-Source Is Good? Discuss : An essay arguing that the innocuous “View Source” command in all browsers has been one of the keys to driving Web adoption.  View Source in the early days meant people could see how things were done and emulate them, thus pushing the entire Web forward.

With that hyper-productive workflow as the background, view-source helps turn the entire web into a giant learning lab, and one that’s remarkably resilient to error and experimentation. See an interesting technique or layout? No one can tell you “no” to figuring out how it was done. Copy some of it, paste it into your document, and you’ll get something out the other side.

If we hadn’t had View Source back then, would things have turned out the same?



  1. When I started blogging hard, I had not yet had any formal training in HTML or Web design (yes, my websites still show it!). Being able to look under the hood, tinker, test, and watch things explode was how I figured all sorts of things out. I don’t know how many people actually use this method, but it’s clearly going to help some curious folks learn, adopt, and adapt faster than the guidebooks can come out.

    View Source is great. I’d hate to see the day when the Web has a big sticker on it like my TV or other appliances that says, “To be serviced by professionals only.”

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