18 Feb 2012
One of my favorite parts of developing web sites is working with markup. HTML fascinates me because it is deceptively simple. How it impacts assistive technologies, browsers and devices is an ongoing journey of education. Understanding the semantics is challenging, yet satisfying, like the New York Times Sunday crossword.
And my fascination has only intensified with HTML5.
So I find it particularly frustrating when I read articles that poo-poo the value of semantic markup, or whine that it's too hard to figure out whether to use
<section>, or complain that something in the draft HTML5 spec isn't where it "should" be.
If semantic markup and HTML5 is confusing to someone, it only suggests to me that someone needs a bit more experience and knowledge. My first site with HTML5 took at least three times longer than if I'd stayed with good old XHTML Strict. But this experience didn't leave me believing that it was pointless to attempt writing more semantic markup. That's just how it goes when learning something new. Not acknowledging a learning curve and blaming the technology doesn't do anyone any good.
And let's not forget, HTML5 is a draft. Even once it's formalized, that doesn't mean vendors are going to magically support everything all at the same time. In our industry, this is just how it is. Complaining won't change that, but it certainly could discourage other people from learning something new.
I get that it's human nature to bitch. I'm a pro at it, myself. But when it comes to helping move things forward, bitching is at the bottom of the list. At the top of the list: education and openness. That's what has helped me move forward in my career.
As I build more sites with HTML5, I continually get better and the semantics make more sense to me. Through this process, I'm becoming a craftsman (craftsperson? whatever …). I'm a better developer because of the struggles I had learning and the challenges of staying up–to–date with a draft spec. But the best part is I'm differentiating myself from the folks who don't care to master the craft, which means more and better opportunities for me.