This is a wonderful roundup from Jeremy, who I picture circling January 1, 2022, in red marker on a giant paper calendar back in 2008 and patiently counting the days.
See, there was a little smattering of internet drama back in 2008 (weird, right?) where Hixie kind of “officially speculated” that HTML5 would take 19 years to make it to full “recommended” status (2003-2022). Seems like most web developers at the time were quite certain HTML, and perhaps the internet as we know it, would be essentially obsolete by 2022. They were not right.
I think they meant that we’d be writing web apps in a more object oriented fashion. At the time, Flash had something around a 90% market penetration rate. If you wanted to make a web app (or an engaging ad), Flash was the best tool for the job at the time. While Director was putting 3D on the web, CSS still couldn’t draw rounded corners.
If you use Svelt, Vue, Angular, React/Styled Components, or Web Components, the similarities to Flash and ActionScript 3 are pretty incredible. (And no, most Flash devs did not use the timeline.) Back in the Flash days, we called “components” a “MovieClip” or a “Graphic” (those were the actual class names). The idea of expressing a UI as “components” is actually older than HTML. In the book, “Design Patterns”, published in 1994, the authors describe writing the UI for a text editor and how it could be done with various design patterns in object oriented programming.
At the end of the day though, I think asking if “HTML will be obsolete” is the wrong question. Professional developers only wrote HTML for a few years in the mid 90s. If you’re writing PHP, or using Rails, Django, Dot Net, etc., you’re not using HTML; you’re using a templating language that compiles to HTML.
The funny thing about all of this is that, back in ’08, we were calling the dawn of web apps “Web 2.0”. We were right, the industry is largely based around web apps now, not web sites. We think of front-end as “software”, not “pages”. We just didn’t wind up implementing web apps the way we thought we would. (Even though we still kind of did.)