Sagrade Familia – View of the Nef under construction in 2002

Twelve years later…

Sagrade Família – View of the Nef under construction in 2002

In 2002, a friend of mine got married in Barcelona. It was for me an opportunity to visit the city, and the . While churches are a pretty common thing in Europe, the Sagrada Família is special in many respects: it has been under construction for more than a century, it has a very special architecture, it is also huge. At the time, the nave was not finished and I visited a huge construction site.

This year, I visited Barcelona again and it was very interesting to see the difference. Generally, I felt that the city had become way more touristic. Where in 2002 I just visited the Sagrada Família and the , this year we needed to buy tickets online one day in advance. Granted, in 2002 my visit was later in the year (November) and buying tickets on the internet with a mobile phone was not an option, still there were way fewer visitors (and no selfie-sticks).

Sagrada Família – view of the nef in 2015

The most impressive change was the progress of the Sagrada Família, while clearly not finished (the current estimate is 2028), the nave is now closed, the lower stained glasses in place. The basilica could probably function as such, if there was a need for a 9000 person church. Currently the crypt is used for worship, the rest of the building is basically a huge touristic attraction, which is fair because it is really impressive: the tree like pillars, the stained-glass windows, this is not an ordinary church.

The feeling I got in 2002 was that the church would never be finished: the required amount of work was staggering, the original plans long-lost and only partially reconstructed. Modern manufacturing techniques like CAD and CNC milling seem to have simplified the construction. The increased number of paying visitors certainly does not hurt. Still, the building is far from finished, and many things can happen until 2028. I will certainly be interesting to visit again in a decade or more.

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The web-site of Matthias Wiesmann Welcome on the old-school part of my web-site, entierly written in vi, just link 20 years ago. You can visit: my blog (Thias no Blog) About me the image format test page the page describing the RPG scenarios I wrote for a French game, R e de Dragon. ____________________ Search my blog

Formatting systems

The web-site of Matthias Wiesmann
     Welcome on the old-school part of my web-site, entierly written in vi,
    just link 20 years ago.
    You can visit:
       my blog (Thias no Blog)
       About me
       the image format test page
       the page describing the RPG scenarios I wrote for a French game, R e    de Dragon.
       ____________________ Search my blog

While many device run some form of graphical user interface or another, the command-line tool is far from dead: it is the main interface both for configuration and hacking together systems. What I find fascinating is that ANSI control sequences have reached the legacy system status a long time ago. Look at the set of tools you invoke in the terminal, only a few ever get support for colours output. At the same time, another formatting language with escape codes has become prevalent: HTML.

While in theory you can implement a command line web-browser – like lynx – the web nowadays is more pixel centric than character centric: there are images, non proportional fonts, compositing, and shadow effects. Web navigation is very mouse centric, you can add keyboard shortcuts to a web-page, but this feature is rarely used. The only concrete text feature present both in ANSI codes and in the original HTML spec is underlining text, a feature that is rarely used in both systems because it hurts legibility. The fact that Tim Berners-Lee chose to build a new language instead of reusing ANSI codes made sense: the system was complex with changing levels of support, weird features. A lot like what HTML is today.

While you can implement the web equivalent of most desktop applications, the complexity increases as you move away from the paper form. While in theory web applications are cross-platform, they more often than not are not usable on devices which are not computers. I have many devices which can run a web browser: laptop, tablet, phone, gaming console. Many web application are only usable on the first device. Note that the problem is not only computing power, but also the assumption that there is a pointing device and a keyboard.

Given the complexity of web development, it is hardly surprising that attention is moving away from the browser to mobile apps. It is probably too early to say if it is a fad or the next evolution, but what is clear that the basic assumptions of the web: a pointing device with a keyboard,a large screen containing text and static images is less and less appropriate.

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