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Keep it Simple, Stupid

How far do you think the World Wide Web would have got if you had to use Ajax to create a web page? I'm not knocking Ajax; that's actually not particularly complicated considering its intended use. I'm just pointing out that the web spread fast and far because HTML by itself was and is simple and highly forgiving. You can actually put up a web page using nothing but text - in the early days, many a web page was done exactly that way. Adding a little HTML makes it "prettier", but you can be incredibly sloppy with that markup and still get reasonable results.

I was reminded of this recently when I visited a site that offered to let me authenticate with OpenIID. I was delighted: OpenID is a great idea and I'd love to see everyone using it. Unfortunately, my login failed. I know it's not a problem with me (because my OpenID login works at other sites), so something is wrong there.

What's wrong? Who knows - it might have nothing to do with OpenID at all and might just be a silly form problem at the site. But OpenID is NOT easy to implement. For example, this is (link dead, sorry) A Recipe for OpenID-Enabling Your Site. As you'll immediately learn there, you need to download and install an OpenID Library before you can do a thing. That's not particularly horrible: there are Perl and PHP modules, but already we're in Programmer Territory. I can do that, many of the people reading here probably can too, but for a lot of folks, that's a big red Stop sign. They'll have to wait for someone else to write the code.

But even I don't want to do it this way. I don't want another damn module or library that may or may not have sixty other dependencies that will annoy me before I get it installed and haunt me forever when something gets updated and breaks everything above it. No, I want it simple: I want to be able to fetch what I need with ordinary GET or POST web requests. Look at how Google does 99% of its API's: simple, direct web requests that you can program in almost any language without downloading any extra libraries or code.

If you want your standard to spread far and wide at the speed of light, the simpler it is to use, the farther and faster it will go. I'm going to say it one more time: I don't want to download any libraries!. In fact, I really don't want to download anything. Sure, sometimes that's unavoidable, but even then, the simpler, the better. If I absolutely have to download code, don't make it dependent on other libraries I've never heard of. Oh, yeah, I'm sure they are cool and grinchy and just so fabulous, but did you really need them? I want simple. Got it? Have I made myself clear?

Sigh.. not that anybody will pay a lick of attention.

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