In language testing it's easy to forget our history, as Bernard Spolsky is always reminding us. It's also very easy to forget that the web has a history. And it wasn't always like it is now. It was only on 16th February 1993 that the creation of the first web browser (Mosaic) was announced. Before that we had gophers and all kinds of non-user friendly interfaces. And the first commercial web site was launched in June 1993. The browser and early sites were very primitive. I had just started my academic career at my first University, and actually wrote my department's web page in early 1994 for NCSA Mosaic. The choice of background colour for the page was battleship gray - take it or leave it. There was no control over page layout at all. Most of the alignment tags hadn't been invented, and virtually all you could do was add images (left aligned by default). Text was black on the grey background, with a single option to make words or phrases bold.

Layout controls, colour and text options didn't appear until mid-1994 with the first Netscape browser. And it was late 1995 before frames and image maps (both long gone now) appeared. The introduction of Javascript also meant that pages started to become a little more interactive. Over the next five years we got all the plugins, dynamic html, and most of what we are used to seeing today with content written in various authorware packages (I still design directly in html - habit). Vivo and Real Player media allowed us to launch the first video content in late 1999 because of the incredible compression they offered. But as bandwidth has become less of a problem we've been able to move to larger file sizes and better quality multimedia files. On this site now you'll find flash for video, and mp3 for audio. I'm also using some Web 2.0 technologies for streaming content, which has really only become possible at the end of the first decade of the 21st Century.

When I wrote the first version of the Resources in Language Testing Page back in early 1995 my University still used Mosaic Netscape. The second version of the page, designed about six months later, was for Netscape Navigator. Want to see what the web looked like in those days? Click on Deja Vu, which will take you to a browser emulator. Try out NCSA Mosaic and Mosaic Netscape to see what the very first version of the Resources in Language Testing Page would have looked like. Unfortunately, most modern web pages won't open in the emulator now as the older browsers just can't recognise the code.

On the very first Language Testing Resources site the introduction and links were all on one page, and the reviews (very few) were on a second related page. And that was it. These web pages look pretty boring now, but try out the line-mode browser to appreciate just what a revolution Mosaic was in 1993. When the first version of my departmental web page was ready (the first in my University, apart from the library) I said that this would be the way students of the future would find out about our programmes. And I also suspected it would be the way academic information could be made freely available. So I started the project to produce the language testing resources web site. The marketing people and the academics alike said they doubted it would ever catch on. The second Head of School I worked under said I was wasting my time. A few years later he had suddenly become an expert web designer (well - he had decided that he had become an expert web designer), and removed our freedom to design web pages that didn't match his template! He had a strict top-down management style that eventually led to harmonization, stagnation, demotivation, closely followed by a hefty budget deficit. But nothing leads to promotion as quickly as abject failure. I understand that he is now so high up the pile that he no longer has to sully his elevated mind with web design (only 'thinking strategically') - and a jolly good thing too.

Whinging aside, it was great fun designing the Language Testing web site right at the very beginning of the history of web browsing. And it is still very challenging trying to keep it evolving in terms of design as well as useful content for users. But it's still fun. And that's why I'll keep on doing it.