In 2010, Jeffrey Zeldman wrote “An InDesign for HTML and CSS?”, which explored the idea of a web prototyping tool, accessible and familiar to visual designers, that would output decent code that could be handed off to developers. Eight years later, have we reached that goal, or is it time for a new call to action?
Four years later, he interviewed Tom Attanasio from Macaw on the Big Web Show podcast. Zeldman described that brand-new app as “the superhot web design tool of the future.” Macaw has since been acquired by Invision, as the foundation of their forthcoming Studio app.
To return to Jeffrey Zeldman’s 2010 article, he concluded at that time by saying “no company will ever create the modern-day equivalent of Illustrator and PageMaker” for the web, citing the fact that crafting good code requires “professionalism, wisdom, and experience.”
As an aside: There is also an argument to be made that the ‘designers should learn to code’ maxim is, like many things in the history of computing, an expression of the ongoing co-optation by male programmers of what was originally seen as a feminine job, frontend visual design and styling. But that is another article for another day.
Looking at the proliferation of the developer ecosystem over the past few years, it’s evident that tooling that caters to coders’ skillsets and mindsets have flourished, but there’s little to enable designers to contribute using the actual materials of the web, in a way that caters to them.
Inside the machine, once the story was sent to “print,” a precisely timed strobe light flashed through a spinning disc bearing a photographic negative of the typeface, to expose positive images of each letter of the story onto a strip of photo paper. It was like a typewriter that used light instead of ink.