How to become a REAL web developer

The_Magistrate

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I've been seeing a lot of posts recently about people's newest "template." I put quotes around template, because they may call them a template, but they really aren't. Putting a few gradient filled boxes into a Photoshop image and slicing it does NOT make it a template. Designing a website takes time, effort and thought. Developing good websites means understanding exactly what is happening behind the scenes.

Using a What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) editor, such as Microsoft FrontPage, Macrodobe Dreamweaver, Adobe Photoshop is not considered web development. These programs create horribly structured and marked up code. Imagine creating a website is like scoring a goal in football (soccer). Making a website with WYSIWYG editor is like a 5 year old scoring a goal. Yeah, he scored, but it wasn't very impressive, and he didn't know what he was doing; he just knew he had to get the ball in the goal. Creating your own website by hand is like Pele scoring. It is a beautiful work of art. Everything about the goal and the moves leading up to it are prefect and impecably planned.

I know some people just don't care enough to want to learn how to make their own websites. I can understand that. I don't have the want/time to learn how to do three dimensional calculus. If you don't want to learn how to develop websites, don't try to develop websites. It's as simple as that. When someone asks for an opinion about their first website they make in a WYSIWYG editor, I'm gonna tell them it's pretty good. That way, they might think about learning more about web development.

But there comes a point where WYSIWYG editors stop serving a purpose. And that point is when someone tries to make a website for someone else. They then think of themselves as a "Web Developer" and think that what they're doing is what everyone else is doing. They couldn't be further from the truth. Real web developers don't need expensive software to make websites. All they need is a web browser and a text editor. Doesn't matter what platform, they'll just need those two things.

The reason why real developers need fewer tools is because they understand how websites work. They get down to the nitty-gritty and sludge through the code. They hand pick each tag, element and style that goes into that site. There isn't a part of their code that they don't know everything about. Every web developer slaves over his/her site for hours on end, trying to make it perfect in every possible way.

To learn how to become a true web developer, you must learn how websites work. There are essentially two parts to a website, the content and the presentation. The content is the words and links on a page. The presentation is the definition of how the content is displayed. For example:

The Quick Brown Fox Jumped Over The Lazy Dog

The content of that line are the words: the, quick, brown, fox, jumped, over, lazy and dog. The style is the fact that it is bold. The idea is that those words (the content) can be presented in many different ways (i.e. not bold and green or really big and red....) The aim of modern web development is to separate content from presentation. That is where HTML(HyperText Markup Language) and CSS(Cascading StyleSheets) are at their best.

Way-back-when, when it was common practice to keep content and presentation together, web developers used HTML to style their documents, using tags like FONT, or B, or I. These tags allow the developer to change the style of the content within that tag. The problem is, what if you want to change the style of all 500 FONT tags on your website? Are you going to edit them all? I didn't think so. That's where CSS comes in. CSS allows you to define the style of a whole bunch of pages on a site from one common document. So when you change that one CSS document, all the pages on your site reflect that change.

One of the benefits to using CSS is the ability to create different presentations or styles for the same content. For example, say visitor A to your site likes black text on a white background. And visitor B like white text on a black background. Using CSS you can allow your visitors to choose which way they want your site to be displayed. When people like your site, the tend to return.... Also, ever see anyone visit a website on their cell phone? Notice how the information on that website is perfectly formatted to fit that screen? That is done using CSS. Why keep two copies of all the files on your website, one for browsers, one for cell phones; when you can keep one copy, but create two styles?

There are also many more practicle benefits to using HTML and CSS on your website, but I won't go into them right now. Check the links for resources about why CSS is a good thing.

Getting back to WYSIWYG editors, too often, they do not properly separate content from presentation. This makes for very bad design. What may look good in one browser, make not even show up in another because the structure is so poor. All too often, WYSIWYG editors violate the cardinal rule of web development.

Don't use tables to layout your content

I cannot stress this enough. Tables are used for tabular data, like data spreadsheets. Not for structuring websites. Using tables to organize your website content is probably the next worse thing to using a WYSIWYG editor for making your website. They are both frowned upon.

I'm sure I'll think of something else that should be mentioned in this thread, but I'll start with this. If anyone has anything to add, please post responses and include your comments.

Now, I leave you with links to sites I find very helpful when I'm developing for myself.

If you read nothing else, read this: http://www.hotdesign.com/seybold/

Look at this one first (contains hundreds of links): http://www.andybudd.com/links/cssweb_standards/index.php http://www.alistapart.com http://www.csszengarden.com http://www.webstandards.org/ http://css.maxdesign.com.au/ http://opensourcetemplates.org/ http://www.tjkdesign.com/ http://www.sitepoint.com/print/essentials-modern-web-design
 

vict0r

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yes, the use of css is definitely better because it generates lesser lines of codes. But I still use macromedia fireworks to design my website and then transfer it to dreamweaver. The css codes are automatically generated when exporting from fireworks to dreamweaver(sort of). There are times i still use table to align all the content in the center position.. Is there a way on how to align everything into the center without using tables?
 
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Conor

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I couldn't agree more. Although Photoshop and the like are great for creating certain aspects for your site, such as a banner, they are not for creating the WHOLE thing. Great thread Magistrate.
 

The_Magistrate

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vict0r said:
yes, the use of css is definitely better because it generates lesser lines of codes. But I still use macromedia fireworks to design my website and then transfer it to dreamweaver. The css codes are automatically generated when exporting from fireworks to dreamweaver(sort of). There are times i still use table to align all the content in the center position.. Is there a way on how to align everything into the center without using tables?

Yes! You can center content in a website by using the following CSS code:

Code:
body {
  text-align : center;
}

#wrapper {
  margin : 0 auto;
  width : 500px; /* can be any width measure */
}

Then use the following HTML to make it work:

Code:
<body>
  <div id="wrapper">
    <!-- Put all the content you want centered in your site here -->
  </div>
</body>

Also, realize that this doesn't have to be the whole site. You can use the same concept of using a "wrapper" to center content in other objects on your site.
 
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swirly

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is there a page i can learn css? i know its like html, but i dont really know it. is there a page like css.net? like the php page?
 

Chris Z

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wow magistrate, that is quite a great post, it only took me 10 minutes to read xD but it was very informative and to the point, you're very right that web developers don't just create layouts from PS lol i mean if they did that, what would be the point of html and css?

GREAT POST MAGISTRATE, KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!
 

Cynical

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I partially agree. Yes it is frusterating to see crappy site designs, but who cares? It's their website. Maybe they simply don't have the time to create a flashy eye-candy design with fancy graphics.

For example: http://www.hampden.org . That website SUCKS (beyond that really), but who cares? It's our town government's website, it doesn't need to be fancy, and nobody expects it to be.

And what's wrong with tables? They get the job done as far as I'm concerned. I agree though, you should avoid them as you get more experienced, but most users won't even notice :p.
 
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The_Magistrate

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Cynical said:
And what's wrong with tables? They get the job done as far as I'm concerned. I agree though, you should avoid them as you get more experienced, but most users won't even notice :p.

I agree with you. Tables are fine for users who are starting out who don't know any better. It's when people try to get more advanced, yet don't kick their bad habits.
 

vict0r

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The_Magistrate said:
Yes! You can center content in a website by using the following CSS code:

<sorry codes deleted to minimize space and bandwidth :D ...> - vict0r

Also, realize that this doesn't have to be the whole site. You can use the same concept of using a "wrapper" to center content in other objects on your site.

Thanks! It worked fine. But what if I have a banner and nav menu imported from fireworks and generated a lot of css codes within it? Can we put something like:
Code:
<div id="wrapper", "and another here?">
because it didn't worked out on my webpage exported from firewroks.
 
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Chris Z

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i don't really know anything about web developing or even claim to know anything ;) but i would suggest you don't use multiple applications to develop a single webpage, try finding an application that suits all your needs :)
 
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The_Magistrate

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@victor: You are confusing classes with ids. An HTML tag can have both an id and a class, but an id must be unique to a page. You cannot have two tags with the same id. But you can have as many tags as you want with the same class.

To use classes, simply separate them with a space, like this:
Code:
<div id="wrapper" class="aclass anotherclass andanother">
Some content.
</div>

@everyone: Here is a nifty article that showed up on digg today titled "Real Hackers Don't Use CSS"

http://www.duggmirror.com/programming/Real_Hackers_Dont_Use_CSS/

It is a very fun read.
 

vict0r

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I got now! :lol: I had everything mixed up my template before.. It contained a lot of layers and nested tables and cells where I don't even understand what I was trying to do.
 

jensen

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Cynical said:
For example: http://www.hampden.org . That website SUCKS (beyond that really), but who cares? It's our town government's website, it doesn't need to be fancy, and nobody expects it to be.

And what's wrong with tables? They get the job done as far as I'm concerned. I agree though, you should avoid them as you get more experienced, but most users won't even notice :p.

Anyone voluntereered to change that table layout to CSS for your town gov's website? Maybe you can help them with the skills you learn. Of course they should put a link to your site for doing it for your town gov :)

It's strange that the website is being sponsored by a service provider who does not care about standards.
 

N2PGames

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if you're tired of Fake themplates go to

http://www.Xtrato.com/

they have the best Themplates in the world !!!! -if M-Design didn't retire :(

======== Scripts =========

If its a Portal script you want try these:

Php-Nuke [Any mod or the normal]
Subdreamer
Forum Portals [phpBB , IPB , VBu]

google something you want
 
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Jacob

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First off, excellent article! It says what thousands of actual web developers and designers have been wanting to say to the "wannabee" designers for years. The article really grasps true web design, not the flimsy WYSIWYG-type. It provides great insight for the young developers who really want to learn, not take the easy shortcut way out.

Secondly, one-liners are STRICTLY PROHIBITED, as said in this area's description. Please make your posts worthwhile and thoughtful, or I will have to close this.
 

clareto

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CSS is great and I can't think of a new website (even a simple web page) without css. But css is not a replacement for tables. Css was made to complement all the html structures like tables. Although css can format everything in a static website I think is better using tables to make dynamic contents.

Yes, all a web developer needs is a browser and a text editor. But usually people who can develop a web site using only those tools, are making dynamic web sites (php, asp, jsp...). And usually is easier and better the use of tables to make dynamic content. Tables are not only to resemble spreadsheets. Just take a look to the code of the most visited web sites. yahoo, msn, fifaworldcup, this forum... Even the simple UI (user interface) of Google use tables!!!

Tables are not the devil. Tables are not obsolete. Tables are here to stay for a long time. But how to have full control of the appareance of tables? Yes, you guessed right: CSS.

Lets use tables :)
 

noerrorsfound

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clareto said:
Just take a look to the code of the most visited web sites. yahoo, msn, fifaworldcup, this forum... Even the simple UI (user interface) of Google use tables!!!
Yeah, so since some people murder other people then it's obviously the right thing to do.

Just because Google does that doesn't mean it's the best way. Google's design has been around for quite a long time and I don't think web standards was such an issue then.
 
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chris218

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using tables really isn't that bad... But I agree with the rest.

I can't stand it when people make a great fuss, "look I am a really good Web Designer, I used Microsft Publisher to make XYZ"

or some other Program of that sort.

I get nothing out of doing that.

I am not God's given gift to the layout side of things, my main intrest is scripts behind it. But still, I don't use Programs that produce the scrappy code for you.
 
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