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larmyia
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I'm feeling most annoyed and just felt the need to express myself to those that would understand.

Basically, I did a BA in Japanese and Korean in Sheffield Uni, and when deciding to do my masters heard about doing multimedia etc, and thought "that really interests me." found conversion courses in London and happily got a distinction (ie: first) in MSc Internet and Multimedia.

However, I think I've learnt more on my own in the past few months than I did at uni. we were never encouraged to handcode. I never heard of any other browsers beside IE and Netscape and there was so much more that I had no idea about. dreamweaver was encouraged as we were newbies, etc etc etc. you get the idea.

now, I realise that handcoding would have been a little more difficult than dreamweaver, but I think that you need to start off with a solid framework, and I didn't have that. I've been doing websites for a couple of years now and how clueless was i? let me answer that - very! thru handcoding I've learnt how things work, why they are there, and what they're doing there...etc.

I guess I just wanted to take a moment and say how grateful that this forum exists and I really appreciate how helpful people are. I know ppl are giving up their free time, and it must be sooo boring answering the same questions over and over from newbies.

I know I have miles and miles ahead of me, but I really feel that i've come far since joining this forum and I've learnt a lot...not only about css, but validation, browsers, doctype, and much much more.

So, please excuse my ignorance and my inane questions. I'm just trying to understand how all the pieces fit together.

many, many thanks!

larmyia

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DCElliott
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a rant I guess...and a thankyou!

A thoughtful and insightful post, larmyia, and one that reminds me why I keep doing this. It also shares the dirty secret I have suspected for some time - a lot of schools teaching web design are hopelessly mired in the past, ignorant of the trend towards standards-compliant, separation of content and presentation design, or tied to one program / one way of doing development.

The whole set of priorities that people come away with is often screwed. Rather than focussing on fundamental functionality for the users of the client's site, they focus on technology: Flash, dHTML menus, javascript rollovers, etc. Often times they create rigid, pixel perfect multiply-nested table based sites that are so code-heavy it is surprising they don't collapse under their own weight.

It is wrong to think of hand-coding as doing things the "hard way" since often times we work with simpler modular code that, with use, becomes greatly optimized. Through forums like this, and the network of sites like Meyer, Zeldman, Zen Garden, PIE, ala, Maxdesign, pixy, (I could go on and on like an Oscars speech) we learn and implement things that simply are not part of the repetoire of products like Dreamweaver. Once you have caught the bug of being in control rather than going on coding autopilot you can become a better designer, coder, and more attractive to the opposite sex (or same sex if that is what you prefer) - after all, hand coding is all about making intelligent choices Wink .

So once again, thanks for your post and I hope it produces a philosophical discussion here - we haven't had a good one for a while.

DE

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euio
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a rant I guess...and a thankyou!

I always thought being introduced to web design software is more of to be 'misguided' from what ought to be learned when designing web pages. Ive been handcoding for about 2 to 3 years now. Entering multimedia or web design courses never occured to me albeit the frustrations during my initial years of tedious yet exciting handcoding .

Through tutorials and forums I learned and been learning. I started off with anime websites with tables scattered throughout notepad and tags mostly duplicated from tutorial sites... I realised at the same time that looking at somebody else's code, accompanied by sheer determination and correct mindset, really helps anybody to learn and understand the uses of the codes.

So I thank people of the internet, the designers and especially those who are here willing to impart their knowledge.

Pretty much we share the same opinion... except that I didnt exprience using a software so I can't judge the 'difficulty' of handcoding... Laughing out loud

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A hearty second on that!

How appropos, Larmyia - I was just going to post a sincere thanks to everyone here for their incredible help (and humor!) with matters far above and beyond CSS.

I'm a languages professor with zero training in digital media of any kind, and decided a few years ago to start my own site. I walked myself through the excellent WestCiv tutorials on HTML and CSS and many of the excellent sites DE has listed above, downloaded a copy of BBEdit (it's like Notepad, for Mac), and went to town.

Even then, I found that using assistance software like WestCiv's StyleMaster or Dreamweaver was frankly too time-consuming. Honestly, I found it easier and faster to just learn the actual code than to laboriously learn all the commands and keys associated with those kinds of programs. Perhaps because I'm a teacher, I wanted my hands "under the hood" - making a mistake when you don't know why it's a mistake is really frustrating for my students, and equally so for me. Smile

Quote:
Once you have caught the bug of being in control rather than going on coding autopilot you can become a better designer, coder, and more attractive to the opposite sex (or same sex if that is what you prefer) - after all, hand coding is all about making intelligent choices .

LOL! Laughing out loud Spawning a whole new genre of personal ads:

brain {size: large;}
body: {weight: 130lbs; hair: long medium red;}
a:focus {USA: New York;}
----------------

I've been fascinated by the politics of web design, too. I came in on the cusp of the 'tables vs CSS' battles and have observed them wax and wane. As a linguist, I'm completely intrigued by the arguments re. "syntax" and "correct semantics" in coding, albeit sometimes from a slightly different angle than the designers are.
The W3C and its standardizing activities has a parallel in real-life language debates (what languages do we teach in schools in bilingual areas? who should have the final power in determining official "rules"? are there penalties for disregarding those rules? are there advantages in disregarding them for certain minorities? what about accessibility for the disabled? etc).

I'm seriously considering re-training and making a professional switch into web design, with a focus on academic sites and systems. Larmyia, my research into training programs has (so far) borne out your experience - lots of emphasis on flashier and inflexible corporate-oriented design, less of the necessary basics. In my wing of academia this is often simply a factor of the age of the faculty. One tends to stick to the methods one learned oneself in school - simply no time for refreshing one's toolbox. In the slower-paced world of the Humanities, this is forgivable - but in computing, it seems downright scandalous.

Whoo-hoo! As I was typing, amazon delivered my new copy of Dan Cedarholm's Web Standards and Solutions. See you all in a week ... Wink

Helen

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a rant I guess...and a thankyou!

(can't type much!)

Couldn't agree more. I've learnt more in college from ignoring the teachers, bunking off work, and surfing the net than I have in a two year programming course.

There was a web design part in year 1, but only at the very end did we get onto divs and floats. In fact, that's what got me into CSS!

(My webdev teacher was also a Linux nut so that helped!)

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  • CSS doesn't make pies

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a rant I guess...and a thankyou!

Helen wrote:
brain {size: large;}
body: {weight: 130lbs; hair: long medium red;}
a:focus {USA: New York;}

OMG I'm in love already :oops:

Actually, I do find Helen's perspective extremely interesting. What she may not realize is that HTML is a greatly dumbed down subset of what can be described in Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML) based markup. HTML has a fair number of the most common document elements: headings, paragraphs, lists, tables, abbreviations and acronyms. It lacks some of the elements common to paged media such as true page headers and footers but some of that is being addressed in CSS3. If we do go forward with an XML based web we will acheive great flexibility in being able to switch between different types of media with the same content. However, I do fear that we may make the web less approachable for the amateur designer. I hope that basic HTML remains an acceptable coding standard for the foreseeable future, even if some day it is looked upon as the equivalent of pidgin English.

The internet revolution, when looked at historically if we survive the next 100 years or so, will be seen as exactly that, a revolution. People have shared in that revolution in different ways. Initially it was something produced by geeks to share with other geeks but quickly grew to be much more than that. However, as it expanded and the true nature of the "WEB" began to be appreciated, it became a great liberator of information and a means of expression to countless millions who through personal sites were able to share a little piece of the phenomenon.

However, there is still an elitist element here. Initially it was difficult to code because there simply wasn't a lot known outside a certain circle of developers and persons already familiar with coding in other languages. I worry that as things become more complex with XML that we may see a return to development as being the territory of experts, or a reliance on software like Dreamweaver to insulate people from the complexity (while churning out bloated sub-optimal code). We have also seen the Microsoft is developing a proprietary scripting language that you can be sure isn't happening out of the goodness of their hearts. We may be living in a golden age right now where we have powerful tools at our disposal that can do so much while still remaining understandable in the hands of amateurs. (Not entirely sure where I am going with this but it has been one hell of a ride.) I'm very much in favour of keeping a standards-based approach to the Web but the W3C process is too slow for many and encourages certain companies to try to implement proprietary solutions to extend functionality with the danger of blacking out portions of the web to persons not using the "right" browser.

We are likely to see the web accessed in many more ways than just sitting at a computer. The "information appliance" is beginning to make itself felt in the form of media centres, online access in the kitchen for recipies, shopping, voicemail, and calendaring (I'm thinking of designing an on the wall unit for my kitchen by recycling an old laptop - protecting the keyboard is a b*tch, though). As it becomes more ubiquitous in our lives, the modern wired world is going to develop a wider split between those who can use this technology as both consumer and producer of content, and those who can only surf and search (and judging from some of the questions here, some haven't found out about search, yet). So we soldier on trying to develop, and help others develop and share universally available information, ideas and ideals.

Power to the People

DE

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Tony
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a rant I guess...and a thankyou!

Hi larmyia,
I liked your rant so much I have blogged it, displayed it on the Home Page

I was lucky enough to strike CSS ( about one Lecture ) at uni while studying IT.
Straight away I could see the beauty of changing the look of a whole site from a single css file.
Unfortunately browser support was very limited, you could get text to change color etc but not much else would work cross browser :roll:
We were expected to hand code as there weren't really any tools available for use, luckily it gave me a solid foundation.

Thanks for the thanks, and thanks to all the others that deserve thanks, thanks. Wink

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a rant I guess...and a thankyou!

euio wrote:
so I can't judge the 'difficulty' of handcoding... Laughing out loud

when I said that handcoding was more "difficult" than using dreamweaver I think it was slightly misinterpreted. and I think ppl may have forgotten how overwhelming it is in the begining. dreamweaver isn't actually easier, but it is easy to understand coming from a MS office background.

when I started my course I'd used computers since I was 9 or so (for games and my homework) I had no idea how pages were written, of any of the technologies below ms office/IE/etc. I remember trying to get my head around the concept of http!!!

for someone not technically minded, handcoding can be overwhelming and confusing in the begining. which is partly why I think my uni should have introduced me to it. that is their job and what I paid them a fortune for!

however, at least I have "seen the light" and am enjoying the power Smile

larmyia

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a rant I guess...and a thankyou!

Quote:
for someone not technically minded, handcoding is overwhelming and confusing. which is partly why I think my uni should have introduced me to it. that is their job and what I paid them a fortune for!

Agreed. At college, I'm learning Visual C++ (emphasis on the VISUAL), and next term maybe, visual basic. Sigh.

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a rant I guess...and a thankyou!

Tony wrote:
Hi larmyia,
I liked your rant so much I have blogged it, displayed it on the Home Page

I was lucky enough to strike CSS ( about one Lecture ) at uni while studying IT.


much obliged Laughing out loud

we never even leant css!!! never even really heard of it. I remember my first ever class, and the teacher gave us an assignment of developing a website. we were told we could develop it in anything from dreamweaver to notepad etc. but I never understood how something in notepad could be made into a webpage. we were given no guidance on the basic fundamentals. and at the end of the day it was a course for complete beginers. we wasted so much time on things that I realise now don't matter and technologies/programs that aren't requested by jobs (like authorware!!!).

I think what frustrates/infuriates me the most is that I could be so much further ahead than I am now if I had just a little of the knowledge, and didn't trust my professors to be giving me the best education. on the other hand, at least I'm doing it now!

I could still be using dreamweaver to develop sites! argh god forbid! Evil

larmyia

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a rant I guess...and a thankyou!

Hi larmyia,
Hopefully more and more web training courses will start to include CSS.

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a rant I guess...and a thankyou!

larmyia wrote:

however, at least I have "seen the light" and am enjoying the power Smile

That's really good for you! Laughing out loud

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a rant I guess...and a thankyou!

Just responding or adding to what DCElliott said:

Quote:
I worry that as things become more complex with XML that we may see a return to development as being the territory of experts ...

I understand this fear but at the same time I also see around me that technologies become easier to deal with as they mature.

Take for example a plane, a car, a rocket for that matter. Put in the perspective of time then you can see that they have become easier to steer, fly or whatever.

It looks to me that programming languages have gone through a similar process. Actually it probably applies to all languages whether they are for programming or normal human communication.

If I take the Dutch language for example, the syntax rules have only simplified compared with 50 years ago.

English (which is still growing as opposed to Dutch) you see a similar development of simplification. Take for example the Texting (sms) and look at how things are spelled. Its quiet normal to write u instead of you or @ instead of at.

Looking at programming langauges you see a similar trend as well. In the very beginning you needed to punch holes in cards which represented the On/Off or 1 and 0 switches to do simple calculations. If you had 1 hole wrong your program would crash.

Now you have user interfaces which help you with programming. Programming now also looks more like normal spoken Language which made it easier for a lot people.

In fact, as the technology became more complex, i am thinking of Object Orientated Programming as opposed to Procedural Programming you still see more and more people using/programming it.

What is interesting now that i write about it is that the tools are taking more and more complexity out of it all. What is scary for me is that less and less people will eventually know how things really work because they are used to pressing buttons and calling that programming.

For example, how many of you out there really know how a VCR or Camcorder works inside. I am sure that nearly all will say: "I can use it, press the record button, but dont ask me how it works!"

Well, anyway, I certainly don't know how these damn things work that's for sure...

It reminds of the book Zen And the Art of Motercycle Maintainance.

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a rant I guess...and a thankyou!

"The Zen of Motorcycle Maintenance" - yoohoo -you just whiplashed my memory back 15+ years! I have not thought about this title since my wanna-be hippy days (in the late '80s)!!

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a rant I guess...and a thankyou!

Further to this discussion I have two daughters one at university and another at Sixth Form College who are experiencing similar "problems" as those outlined by Larmyia.

Daughter at Sixth Form College told to "design" a site with FrontPage using frames and tables. When informed by yours truly that she should not be using FrontPage or tables or frames, but instead hand code and use css for layout, was met with a look of...............(well we won't go there for now).

My other daughter studying at University is being "forced" to use Dreamweaver and again using tables to layout her site. She was more receptive to my viewpoint, and could instantly see the merits of using CSS, but unfortunately she has to follow the guidelines laid down by her lecturer........or else..............she will be marked down on her coursework.

Which brings me to a viewpoint that I hold, and that is that the lecturers of webdesign at Schools, Colleges and Universities appear to be those individuals who have a little knowledge of web authoring gained in the WYSIWYG environment and are so out of touch with the "new wave" of web design that they might as well be teaching with the aid of a Sinclair Z86.

If these lecturers were teaching say Physics, based on the teachings of 300 years ago and ignoring the aquired knowledge we have gained since then, they would be rightly castigated, but then webdesign is just a thing that nerds do, in their spare time and is just a bit of fun or so we are led to believe.!!!!!!!!

IMHO webdesign is a modern art form;

just as your breath is taken away by viewing a piece of classic art by an old master the same can be said when you view a stunning website designed by the "modern masters".

You can keep your table based designed and flash trickery..give me a zen garden any day of the week

I rest my case.

#oldtimer{
mothers: first-child;
size : overweight;
padding : toomuch;
visibilty : poor;
}

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a rant I guess...and a thankyou!

OLdTimer, I felt so frustrated reading your post. all I can say is at the very least your daughters have you to advise them of what is out there (even if one isn't currently listening - what can my Mom possibly know?!? Wink )

How can this be??? Even though I knew the score with universities from my first degree, I really believed in my professors during my masters. I believed they knew best. why are they forcing this archaic learning on us? what a waste of your daughter's time. she could actually be learning something useful rather than developing websites using tables in DW!!!

my main professor and head of my course was a very sucessful multimedia apps developer. but I think when he became a lecturer he became lazy and didn't give a toss. looking back now he acted like it was all a bit of a laugh. yeah...a laugh at my expense. I won't bore you all, but man, do I have some horror stories!

I'm just so disappointed and saddened by an educational system that pushes its students to study outdated principles and use outdated technology.

DCElliott
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a rant I guess...and a thankyou!

There is an old saying:

Those who can - do
Those who can't - teach

DE

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a rant I guess...and a thankyou!

Teaching old concepts for whatever reasons must be widespread. Back in the 80's when I was attaining my BS in Computer Science, they still had courses in Fortran '77 and ALGOL. Turns out that 5 years after I was finished, the school came under investigation for teaching outdated material and not properly using federal funds to update the syllabus.

They were still using WANG terminals for students to do everything from wrod proceesing to programming. IBM clones had been out for a little while. Suprising considering that professors and instructors are supposed to be considered so liberal in the way they think.

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