Bad clients are a pox!

I haven't done a lot of web development. I mostly fix things for people who do, but have hit an html/css bump. It's pretty simple really. I look at what they've got and what they want, and either fix it or suggest another approach. No hoohoo.

Separation of structure, presentation and behavior

Though few are likely to have noticed, I have not been very active on the forum over the last couple of months. I started school in September, with accelerated classes in Linux installation and administration, and MySQL administration. The eighteen hours a week of lecture and lab, plus the reading, plumb wore me out. The second section started three weeks ago. The Apache administration class had insufficient enrollment and was canceled. That left only PHP. Thank gawd for that.

In the first three weeks, we have each installed our own Apache, MySQL and PHP from source. Plus, we have set up PEAR libs and installed the Smarty templating engine. Each class begins with a quiz on the previous lecture, and ends with a lab project based on the current lecture, plus we have an assignment related to the current week's studies. We will have finished the text by the end of the fifth week, and will spend the last three weeks on developing a web application. I suspect that it will be either a commerce site or something like a blog.

An urban legend bites the dust--divs do not replace tables

Just to clear up a common misconception, one that seems to be at the root of every newcomer's approach to coding for standards, you do not use divs instead of tables. That's important enough to repeat, "you do not use divs instead of tables".

What do you use? You use well structured, semantic and well formed html instead of table layouts. A non-trivial table layout cannot be well structured nor semantic, though it can contain well formed (valid) html.

The div element is a non-semantic structural container that lets you form groupings of other, semantic, elements. Notice, I said elements. A div should never contain bare nekkid content, only elements.

Prettify your html, make me want to help you

I don't try to help everyone with their problem. It has to interest me, for one thing. Or, it has to be easy to spot the problem. The inverse is that if it's hard to make heads or tails of the markup, I'm likely to move on to the next post.

There are plenty of articles aimed at asking good questions, providing good information, having a good attitude, and et cetera. I'll be talking about some mechanical aspects.

This is the first of what should be two rants about formatting for ease of reading. This part deals with html formatting. Forget about so-called html optimization. The bandwidth savings due to squeezing out the white space, etc. are trivial compared to the savings you've already gained by dumping table based layout in favor of external stylesheets. What is not trivial is the importance of the code being easily read by the Mark I, Mod 0 human eyeballs.

School daze sure don't seem like the old daze

It's hard to think about school starting soon, when temperatures have hit 100°+ more than 30 times this summer. So far this August, only one day has failed to reach 100°, and it hit 104° yesterday. That's 40°C to you furriners.

So what has that got to do with anything? Well, in the middle of all this non-fall, non-school-like weather, I received a catalog from the local community college. I don't know about other two year colleges, but Dallas's has more than 80,000 students on eight campuses and the tele-college. The catalog reflects the diversity of student needs. One set of courses caught my eye.

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