Getting Back to the Basics

I’ve been making web pages since 1995 when I got a computer account on the college UNIX server and was told that if I created a web page with a .hmtl file extension in the www directory of my account it would be viewable by the world. “Web pages?” That was new to me, but I got on our DEC boxes and surfed around a bit.  I decided to try making a web page of my own. I was hooked. I could spend hours a day making pages, but couldn’t understand the fascination with surfing the Web for hours.  I didn’t need to understand that in order to make pages for the surfers to find, though.  I had one of the largest sites on our servers.  I was really into it.  I was the first to jump on HTML 2 and I had Frames galore.  I even made a page out of 11 frames.  Yes, it was ugly, but I was learning how it all worked as soon as it came out.  I had nothing to distract me…even classwork, to an extent.  [I’m reminded here of a bumper sticker I found back in high school that said:  Never let school interfere with your education]  A few years later, I had my first job as a professional web designer/developer and I’ve been doing it since.

Unfortunately, I’ve been building sites for the government. “Unfortunate?”, you may ask. Yes, in so far as there hasn’t been a lot of money for training or time to experiment with new technologies/languages. As the solo web guy with no lack of projects needed yesterday, it is always full speed ahead with what I already know. So, unfortunately, while I’ve become quite an expert in what I know, Head First HTML 5 coverit has led to a stagnation in growth.  I pick up things as I see them, usually by seeing something interesting and ‘viewing source’.

Early this year, I picked up Head First HTML5 Programming and started working through it as work allowed…which isn’t always much. I’m still not done with it. Going through it, though, showed a number of HTML4 tags/techniques I haven’t been making use of and made more aware of my non-standard coding.

Head First HTML & CSS coverI decided to pick up Head First HTML & CSS, 2nd Edition. I started working through this book and quickly realized that just reading it is sufficient based on my background. I am nearly finished with this book after about a week. I’ve now armed myself with a number of new (to me) tags and CSS that will make a project I’ve been working on much simpler. I’ve also learned a little more about how/why browsers render some of the tags/code the way they do.

Sometimes, it pays to go back and re-examine our basics…to shore up where some of the building blocks have gotten old and weak.

I’m also eagerly awaiting Head First Labs forthcoming Head First Javascript Programming book in January 2014. I am a big proponent of the Head First books, can you tell? They are well thought out, chock full of great examples and puzzles to aid learning and retention, and even manage to incorporate a bit of humor.

I’ll be passing my HTML & CSS book on to my kids in the next week or so when I give them a place to play on my computer.

Forget ‘Hello, World’.

Try ‘Watch out, World!’

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2 Responses

  1. Did my wayback post inspire you?

    BTW, I think you the blondies on the covers.

    • While they are nicer to look at than the typical nerdy-looking dudes on programming books, it’s really the content. HF does a great job. They actually have HF books on Algebra and Geometry, too, among other things.

      What’s sad is that after looking at the wayback pages, that site was still better than some I come across now.

      I waffled on picking up the HTML & CSS book for months, but finally bought it. I’m glad I did.

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