I always liked the web. I see little difference between writing PHP and C. But the powers of the masses of stuck-up computer science graduates won’t let the web be as it should: an incredible ecosystem of the latest great stuff built on awesome, stable technologies.
Around 2013 I decided to build an Android app called Everyone’s Timetable (by the way – that Java .apk build still runs to this day). The app’s backend (written in PHP, also running unmodified to this day) needed a list of everyone’s current timetables (stored in MySQL, you guessed – with the schema not touched since then). Those timetables needed to be scraped off a website.
After a lot of headache I made a setup with and old version of Firefox (47.0.2), an old version if iMacros, a separate profile, and all updates disabled. That kept working until today, though it will stop working when that version of Firefox is declared obsolete.
Today I have a separate project that requires me to scrape a website. Do you think things got better? Of course you know they only got worse.
There was also Selenium, which from what I’m reading sort of kind of worked most of the time for some people to automate website testing. I went to use it today to find that – yeah, it was also broken.
But wait, there was Web Driver, developed internally by Google (who I guess like to test their websites) – but don’t use it, because:
Selenium has merged with Web Driver, to create something “better” but officially undocumented to this day:
NOTE: We’re currently working on documenting these sections. We believe the information here is accurate, however be aware we are also still working on this chapter. Additional information will be provided as we go which should make this chapter more solid.
I thought that makes sense, until I realised that the merger happened years ago.
There are downloads and tutorials for all of the above, from old iMacros to some kind of Selenium Web driver, but almost 100% of the software and tutorials are obsolete. I can’t even tell from the official Selenium website what’s supposed to work now.
I found a tutorial about setting it up – it’s a crazy combination of Eclipse, Selenium Client & WebDriver Language Bindings, and an officially unsupported Mozilla GeckoDriver.
I’ll probably try it, since I have little choice. But seriously, what the fuck!? Why is the web development field so full of people who don’t give a damn whether their software will work next year? Have they given up on taking pride in their work, or did they never learn what that pride feels like?
Bloody shame. So much potential never realised, and so much more of this garbage to come in the next decade. I don’t expect this will be fixed any time soon, in fact I see it spreading also via Android/iOS development and into Windows development as well.