All in the <head>

– Ponderings & code by Drew McLellan –

– Live from The Internets since 2003 –


Predictions for 2005

30 December 2004

It’s that time of year where we all swap tools we know how to operate for crystal balls and pretend we have some clue about what’s going to occur in the next twelve months. Well, I’ve got no bloody idea, so here are my not-quite-predictions-more-like-nice-to-haves for 2005.

More Beards

Hicks is at it, Oxton indulges, Budd has dabbled sports with pride, and I myself have practised the art of the Beardy Wierdy. Ladies and gents (well, perhaps just the gents) 2005 is the year of the beard, mark my words. Just wait for the SXSW photos, then you’ll see.

More Rails

David Heinemeier Hansson’s Rails framework for web application development in Ruby is set to hit the magic v1.0 in early 2005. Rails is really picking up momentum, and for good reason. It’s the web app dev framework for the MVC generation, or something. If you haven’t checked it out yet – especially if you do a lot of big development in dynamic languages such as PHP – do so.

More Content Management

With Weblog Management Systems really growing up in 2004, more and more people are seeing the sense in rolling out a CMS to support even smaller web sites. Whilst it’s more than possible to use a weblog tool to power a non-blog site, none of them actually help you to do this and you’re often having to work against all the built in metaphors. 2005 could well see the appearance of more dedicated CMSs for running smaller sites. Indeed, much of the development in this area could come from the existing tools shifting their focus from just blogs.

More JavaScript

When the web became more aware of the need to be accessible to all, a lot of people freaked out about JavaScript and its apparent inherent evilness. With CSS innovation being slowed by browser limitations, I think 2005 will see a lot more of the language of the rhinos, and more importantly more sensitive and more appropriate use of JavaScript. Looks like I’m not alone in this opinion.

Less Macromedia Flash

Flash seems to be slipping further and further away from relevance. Whereas at one time most new sites would involve Flash somewhere along the line, it now only seems to crop up for kids sites, streaming video, and advertising. Perhaps I’m wrong, but these days it seems very labour intensive for very little gain.

So that’s it – not a particularly radical bunch, but some predictions for the forthcoming year. Whether they turn out to be accurate or not (frankly, who cares?), may I take the opportunity to wish you all very happy 2005. Thanks for stopping by this year, it’s nice to have you guys around.

- Drew McLellan


  1. § Brian Behrend: I hope you’re right about Flash. I’ve been neglecting my skills there for a long time now, and frankly have no urge to mess with it anymore.

    I’d like to join the bearded ones, but I’ve tried before and failed miserably. I guess I just wasn’t meant to be a lumberjack.
  2. § John Oxton: Right that’s it I am not shaving it off then. I knew if I kept at it I’d come into fashion – now flared trousers and slip-on shoes, whadda ya think?

    I agree with the Flash thing, a lot of pain for very little gain. sIFR is amazing though, I think there will be masses of that about.

    One question for you. Do you think Textpattern is the CMS for the smaller website? I am certainly considering it as an alternative to Macromedia Contribute.

    Happy new year to you and yours.
  3. § Molly: I tried the beard thing, but it really didn’t work for me.

    Happy New Year, all!
  4. § Jonathan Snook: I, too, have noticed the beard trend. I’ll do my best to bring about it’s well-deservered return.

    Rails. This is a really sweet framework. Especially for putting together some quick web apps. The recent site redesign is well done and can only help increase the adoption rate.

    More CMS. For sure. I think we’ll see more blog tools include more functionality that will make them more useful to smaller traditional sites. Although, there’s definitely a niche market that’s ready for an easy to use tool focused at this market. (ha, cheap self promotion!)

    Further to your javascript thought, I think you’ll see xmlhttprequest really take off (and thus you’ll see more javascript).

    Macromedia is really trying to pitch Flash as an application platform as opposed to just an animation platform. However, I think its inability to replicate certain default browser functionality (right click menus, any decent html rendering) will limit its ability to gain any serious market share.

    Anyways, enough blathering… happy new year and all the best to everybody!
  5. § brandon ellis: facial hair = less shaving. beard, van dyke, soul patch.. it all works.

    the whole flash thing.. i don’t think that flash is in any less favor than before but i do think that folks are figuring out that flash is good as an application for presenting media on the web but not really good for building entire websites.

    my main hope for 2005 is that more devs will start to see the light about web standards and how valuable they everyone.

    peace for 2k5
  6. § Bill: Javascript seems to be surging. Places like Google are using it in innovative ways, but what about the 5-10% of people that turn it off?
    JavaScript Stats

    If you have limited resources, do you develop client-side functions that can be disabled, or do you assume that people can be talked into always having Javascript enabled?
  7. § Matthom: Yes, Flash is too involved; takes too much time.

    It’s not really a TOOL, per se. I never find myself thinking – “Wow, this would be a perfect application to do in Flash!”

    And that’s because there are better and simpler ways to convey your meaning. Flash is all cosmetics.
  8. § Matt: I have attempted the beard thing as well, with miserable results. Maybe by SxSW. :)
  9. § Mark Wubben: JavaScript… Flash… sIFR? Bah. That is so 2004… ;-)

    (Bill, as I quote from this post: I think 2005 will see a lot more of the language of the rhinos, and more importantly more sensitive and more appropriate use of JavaScript.)
  10. § Jesse: Tried the beard but the crazy lady from Wigan has some strong feelings against it. I can only get away with about 5 days of not shaving then I get the look and off I go to shave.

    I think you will see more creative (ha) uses of Flash in 2005 and CMS might finally be recognized as more of a mindset than a particular application.

    I want it to be the year of the 2.5 Ghz G5 laptop.. and a dual G5 3Ghz in my office!
  11. § Peter Mount: There’s some Beardy Wierdies at

    Maybe we can get some inspiration?
  12. § setmajer: I think JS and Flash are a matter of what markets you serve. The ad and traditional design agencies (traditional as in ‘can you have that link biked over to me?’) are still head-over-heels in love with Flash. They want it, often as a checklist item. JavaScript, however, is a dirty word—at least among those few than know the word.

    To be fair, I have seen some pretty hip uses of Flash. ESPN’s game trackers come to mind.

    sIFR is pretty slick too, but thus far our company has been avoiding it as too much trouble. Dunno if that’ll change, but I’m not holding my breath.

    Regarding CMSes, there are already oodles of respectable OSS systems for small-to-medium sites: Mambo, Drupal, Xoops, phpWebSite, etc. Not all of them are focused on the /.-style community thing, either. Perhaps they’ll remain too difficult to install/learn, but I think it’s at least as likely that one or three of them will take off as that blog tools willl successfully move upmarket.

    That said, I expect blog tools will adopt more general-purpose functionality as their user bases become more sophisticated in their needs. The danger there is that they’ll become too sophisticated for the beginners at whom they were originally targeted.
  13. § Ottawa: I really hope you are right on all the counts :D

    Especially JS and Flash!
  14. § Andy Budd: “Budd has dabbled” – How dare you! I’ll have you know I’ve been sporting this unsightly facial hair since University, and that was a long, long time ago.

    By the way, does anybody else think that Jon Hicks and Domanic Diamond were separated at birth?
  15. § Paul Williams: Well, I joined the beared weirdies in May and the little lady quite likes the goatee, so it’s staying for the time being!

    I also agree to everything you’ve said here. With us doing more and more small CMS driven sites, and finding that we have to basically rebuild from scratch (using our libraries) for each site, I hope to get the time this year to put them all together and make a more robust, flexible and extensible system that I could share with you all…

    Have a great 2005 Drew (& co)!!
  16. § Jon Hicks: Alas, the beard has gone! I couldn’t bear it any longer, but boy it got bushy. They’re so last autumn anyway.

    Andy – what separation? Do you think I make all my money from web design?
  17. § David Peters: Your prediction on flash is so far off base. Have you seen the recent new presence for Ford?

    “it now only seems to crop up for kids sites”

    That’s a childish comment itself.

    Try these sites and then reconsider:

    The list could go on…

    Flash is here to stay so export more not less in 2005.
  18. § Thomas Craig: I agree with the CMS rollout it seems that more and more people are using CMS applications to run their web sites regardless of what type of site they are using. It does make updating a hell of a lot easier.
  19. § Mark Priestap: In my sphere, Flash is used primarily for header animations and banner ads and has been all but forgotten for much else. As you point out, it is very labor intensive. The other issue is that if you want to update your look & feel, you either need to A. go back to the source, B. find another Flash guru, or C. learn how to do that squinty, nodding magic thingy from Betwitched.


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About Drew McLellan

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Drew McLellan (@drewm) has been hacking on the web since around 1996 following an unfortunate incident with a margarine tub. Since then he’s spread himself between both front- and back-end development projects, and now is Director and Senior Web Developer at in Maidenhead, UK (GEO: 51.5217, -0.7177). Prior to this, Drew was a Web Developer for Yahoo!, and before that primarily worked as a technical lead within design and branding agencies for clients such as Nissan, Goodyear Dunlop, Siemens/Bosch, Cadburys, ICI Dulux and Somewhere along the way, Drew managed to get himself embroiled with Dreamweaver and was made an early Macromedia Evangelist for that product. This lead to book deals, public appearances, fame, glory, and his eventual downfall.

Picking himself up again, Drew is now a strong advocate for best practises, and stood as Group Lead for The Web Standards Project 2006-08. He has had articles published by A List Apart, Adobe, and O’Reilly Media’s, mostly due to mistaken identity. Drew is a proponent of the lower-case semantic web, and is currently expending energies in the direction of the microformats movement, with particular interests in making parsers an off-the-shelf commodity and developing simple UI conventions. He writes here at all in the head and, with a little help from his friends, at 24 ways.