While much of the stuff that builds up a computer or a computer system is mass-produced the component that actually makes them useful is made by hand. It might have a few layers of abstraction before being processed in the hardware but it’s always implemented by a person and this person has more in common with traditional craftsmen and artists than the typical engineer. Coding is a craft that every developer or systems engineer should take pride in, it’s the expression of our professional knowledge and we should treat it as such.
Not every coder is an artist, some are just happy to make something that fulfills the most basic functional requirements. However, there’s another school that really makes an effort to not only make the code beautiful but also easily readable and efficient. This isn’t some selfish quest just to show off; compact, readable code that other can understand is much less prone to contain bugs and is also easier to maintain. The code that we write will often live for much longer than we initially suspect and this is a reason in itself to really make an effort to write functional and beautiful code.
For a web developer the language to really master is HTML, it’s the foundation for every web page and it doesn’t matter if a back-end solution is written in Java, Groovy, C#, Ruby or something else. Every back-end web platform still produces a HTML-page and without mastering the language itself and best-practices for websites the final result will be flawed.
Products (like Dreamweaver, Fireworks or whatever is in fashion now) that automatically create HTML layouts and tags might look temting to speed up the process but they are often more trouble than they are useful. The first reason is that the markup they produce doesn’t result in a semantic layout specific to the site or page at hand, the second is that by alienating the developer from the core of the open web stack he has no way to get regular training, learn more and and to get a chance to really think about how a page is implemented. The result is most often a bloated page full of hacks and quick-fixes and that is not the way towards One Web.
As a developer, take pride in your craft of writing code. As a web developer, take special pride in your HTML craftsmanship