I ran across this question on SO: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/7373066/webpage-source-code-incomplete-hidden-code

Without trying to infer too much or start a side-discussion of the sort that SO discourages, I think it's fair to conclude that the OP is someone who is familiar with HTML, Javascript, CSS and the basic architecture of the Web. Yet this question suggests that they have never worked with code that used a traditional form post. Is it really the case that people starting to work in the Web nowadays don't learn about that crufty old stuff any more?

I don't even mean this question to be as crotchety as it probably sounds. I'm not suggesting people learn about <marquee>, implement all UI layout in tables, dynamic content with document.write etc. But form posts seem like one of those critical pieces a person should understand, specifically before getting into Ajax. Did I stumble on an anomaly or a trend here? Am I wrong?


Yes, its common. I dont know if its so much a trend as it is a procession, with newer developers working with continuously higher levels of abstraction as they become available. It probably looked pretty odd to programmers 20 years ago to talk to young programmers who never learned assembly. I've seen people on here suggest things such as not needing to know HTML to make web apps (ExtJS does it all for you...), not needing to know SQL (thats what ORM is for), etc. Sure, it can be done without understanding underlying technologies. But if someone doesnt understand the basic foundations they are working on top of, as soon as they try to do anything outside of the box, they're out of their depth.

  • Great answer! Their is a dark side to abstraction, but then again these people fail more and more, but this just makes me look even more valuable to employers. – maple_shaft Sep 10 '11 at 21:22
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    while I agree wholeheatedly that you should know about the foundations (even if you like to use higher level abstractions); it seems you draw a line and think that assembly language is somehow obsolete. Just because it's not convenient (compilers/JITs are far smarter than most of us), it's no less important. – Javier Sep 10 '11 at 23:46
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    "it seems you draw a line and think that assembly language is somehow obsolete." - I dont know how you can interpret my answer to mean that. My point is that as higher and higer level abstractions become available, newer programmers will start with them, and thus not necessarily be exposed to the lower level technology. Thats been the nature of things for years. The assembler statement points out that 20 years ago, new programmers who started with languages such as FoxPro or Basic may not have been exposed to assembly, C, or other low level langs the way older programmers had been. – GrandmasterB Sep 11 '11 at 3:54
  • I think different people just approach it differently from the beginning. I'm one of those young programmers from 20 years ago (I was a pre-teen then but had already discovered LOGO) and before long I was writing assembler code for MS-DOS. Did I "need to"? Hell no! Have most programmers of my generation learned some Assembler along the way (excluding those who need to for work)? Interesting question, I'd be curious to know. – Dan Sep 11 '11 at 3:57
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    I had a coworker who was king of abstraction. Once part of his work was passed on to my other coworker (who was a strict Computer Scientist who know mostly C/C++), he was lost, and made beginner mistakes in trying to extend the abstraction. Abstraction is great, as long as everyone who has to work with it understands the underlying technologies. – beatgammit Sep 11 '11 at 8:32

If said user came from a web design/static HTML background, I wouldn't expect them to understand how forms work, nor the whole client/server architecture.

The profile of the user seems to indicate lots of "front end" work and little or no back end (though node.js is in the tags a number of times).

And with the prevalence of AJAX these days (how easy does jQuery make it, eh?), I can see how some developers will end up seeing forms as temporary data holders, used to build those AJAX calls from.

I can see how someone self taught, who has come into web development recently (i.e. when AJAX became the vogue) wouldn't know how the form element operates, in particular if JS is not used.

  • Fair enough, but in this particular case, from looking at this person's history they clearly are fairly knowlegeable in Javascript and have dealt with some reasonably complex apps. Still, if a person's work with the web is entirely client-side, I suppose it could happen. – Dan Sep 10 '11 at 20:17
  • @Dan - Answer updated. Added that newly, self taught people would learn AJAX first these days and may not deal with standard (?) forms for a good while :) – Oded Sep 10 '11 at 20:19

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