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On Back-End Beauty

In a “web 2.0” age, anyone who knows what to look for in a well-functioning website will give a subject site the ol’ once-over, and just as quickly, hit a few familiar keystrokes and peruse the site’s source code. Of course, with Ajax-based web apps gaining in popularity, “source scoping” is becoming a futile effort.

I, for one, still prefer accessible, source-outputting, server-side languages. I also believe that code, in any format, can be as beautiful as the interface it powers. In my experience in this industry, I’ve done far more work as a designer than a developer. Yet, in the development experience that I do have, I have structured the server-side code to output well-formed, beautiful client-side code. Plainly put, I have an insatiable need to style my code.

Below, I’ve provided two versions of the code behind this site. Compare the two for yourself. I believe you’ll see what I mean.

Un-Styled Code

<div id="notebook"><h1>Notebook</h1><p
id="box">The thoughts and ideas of one ambitious, inqusitive,
observant, verbose web designer.</p><div class="entry"><h2>
On Back-End Beauty</h2><p>In a "web 2.0" age, anyone
who knows what to look for in a well-functioning website
will give a subject site the ol' once-over, and just as
quickly, hit a few familiar keystrokes and peruse the
site's source code. Of course, with Ajax-based web
apps gaining in popularity, "source scoping" is becoming
a futile effort.</p></div></div>

Styled Code

<div id="notebook">
   <h1>Notebook</h1>
   <p id="box">The thoughts and ideas of one ambitious,
      inqusitive, observant, verbose web designer.
   </p>
   <div class="entry">
      <h2>On Back-End Beauty</h2>
      <p>In a "web 2.0" age, anyone who knows what
         to look for in a well-functioning website will
         give a subject site the ol' once-over, and just
         as quickly, hit a few familiar keystrokes and
         peruse the site's source code. Of course, with
         Ajax-based web apps gaining in popularity,
         "source scoping" is becoming a futile
         effort.
      </p>
   </div>
</div>

Is it just me? Or can the back-end be beautiful too?

The idea behind a styled interface is simple. We want whatever is public to look good. Well, I submit that source code has become public, and therefore, deserves just as much care and style as the interface.