But this week it happens. We have AOL, of all people, to thank for the launch of the worlds first ever fully W3C standards compliant browser. Years of crying out for some form of consolidated cross-platform support and it's finally here. The irony is that its now too late. At the end of the day it's just another browser to develop for and more depressingly in the real world nobody gives a shit.
Each new "make-life-easier" technology requires more time and effort to support, making life harder for the developer. Web designers these days are not only designing for the web on your desktop but the web on your mobile phone, your personal organiser and your games console. With new plug-ins, platforms and browsers crawling out of the lab every day it is no surprise to see web development following the trends set by games development. Both started off as something you could do on your own, for fun rather than money and both have mutated into billion dollar businesses that require teams of specialised developers to produce much the same thing.
I think that's why most web contractors specialise: Firstly it's a lot easier to know one subject really well and secondly gurus get paid more. The biggest trick these days is deciding where to specialise - Placing your bets in the right places is vital. What's the point in investing a lot of time and money in becoming a WMML (Washing Machine Markup Language) guru if it turns out to be a dead technology.
Personally I'm hitching my wagon to Flash. I know it inside and out and it's a joy to work with. The database hooks in version 4 make it very powerful. The new interface elements in version 5 will make it more customisable, and with players appearing on every emerging platform it's as future proof as you can hope for in the real world.
With this in mind the site will be getting a bit of a Flash makeover next month. I think you should all have the plug ins by now, but if you don't then you can get it here.