Thursday, January 24, 2008

How Dinosaur Web Developers Can Regain Their Shine: Step 1

Last week I posted that a large number of us that have been web developers since the first Internet boom are becoming dinosaurs.  I may have said COBOL programmers, but it's the same thing :). 

I also said that one of the things we need to learn in order to catch up is CSS.  Now, we all used to think we knew CSS, and we did they way it worked at the time, in the browsers of the day.  Through trial and error we learned what you could and couldn't do that would look consistent across the major browsers of the day.  Along the way we learned to stay away from things like dynamic positioning, you were pretty sure to have things look bad unless you wrote a TON of special code to account for browser differences.

Well, the browsers have matured along with us but while our hair may have thinned or waistlines grown the browsers have become more standards compliant.  Now the MS bashers will say that IE is still not compliant and sure, there are issues, but overall, wow, they all do a lot of cool stuff consistently now.  You might say that while we are moving steadily toward middle age, the browsers are finally just able to buy us a drink.  Positioning of elements, cool dynamic looks and even whole page layouts can now be done using nothing more than CSS and some images.  Better yet, it looks the same in all major browsers.

The longer we wait to learn the new standards, the harder it will be for us. 

mix Are you not convinced yet of what can be done with CSS?  Take a look at the site for MIX08 and then look at the exact same site with a different (and plain) stylesheet.  Pretty amazing huh? 




csszengarden Still not convinced?  Ok, check this one out: CSS Zen Garden is a site created to demonstrate the capabilities of standards based CSS design and provide the resources to help you do it.  Play around with the site by choosing different designs and you will see what I'm talking about.  There are samples of all of it along with links to plenty of other resources.




So, do you think you have what it takes to use standards based web development already?  If so then head over to the restyle site and enter the contest with your cool design.  You can get a trip to Vegas out of it and hear some guys named Ballmer, and Guthrie talk about cool stuff.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Good to see CSS mentioned. Keep in mind though that although they are called standards, there's not much standard about them. Browsers will implement the spec as they so choose, leaving things out and adding things as they need. There doesn't seem to be anything out there that enforces them as standards.

I use CSS in my work every day, and it's interesting to see how things have changed from when I first started tinkering with web pages, over a decade ago.

Another site you might want to check out for CSS is:
Transcending CSS.

It's the website companion to the book of the same name, written by Andy Clarke and Molly E. Holzschlag. Molly maintains a site at