Where are all the Fancy Graphics?

No doubt many of you are wondering why the Web pages for CS61a are so, well, plain. Where are the pictures of the Campanile, the fancy backgrounds taken from images of Soda Hall, the blinking text, the cute little tornados working their way across your screen, the buttons with cartoon images that jump up and shout ``Yahoo!'' when you push them?

These effects, however decorative they may be, consume bandwidth (you've no doubt heard that the Internet is getting crowded) without conveying information. For example, the home page for a certain course some semesters ago had 3,500 characters of text (which contained all of the information) and 70,000 characters of images (which contained none). And that isn't a bad ratio compared to many Web sites I've visited. Too often (not in this department, of course), these fancy special effects are attempts to convey a false impression of substance or competence. In fact, let me be positively vehement: As long as communication of large items of data continues to consume appreciable amounts of time for at least some body of users, it is an out-and-out discourtesy to employ gratuitous images, including image maps, where simple text will do.

Therefore, as a gesture of both courtesy and sanity, Prof. Paul Hilfinger, who originally designed many of these pages, opted to keep things plain and simple. Those images you see will usually be meaningful diagrams or demonstration programs. Or they weren’t put there by PH.