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« A Father's Thorn in the Flesh | Weekend Visitation Snatched Away | Main | The Bug's First Theater Movie (Sorta) »

Upgrading Web Master Skills | New Technologies Presenting Challenges

Been upgrading my web master skills recently, to include proficiency with HTML, XHTML, CSS & Dreamweaver. I'd also like to become familiar with JavaScript, PHP & SQL-based databases, such as MySQL.

Much of my web skills to date have been acquired on an ad hoc basis, learning only what I've needed to know .. to accomplish a particular result/effect. I've simply not been very interested in learning the details of web mastery.

Yet the Internet (or the Web, I should say) remains one of mankind's coolest inventions. And the web - as you know - is comprised, primarily, of web pages. So skills in this area might allow me to take better advantage of (indulge myself in) this evolving technology.

None of these skills, mind you, are particularly difficult to learn. It's not rocket science, but there *is* much material involved.

Like most people, I learn best by doing .. by having a project to which I can apply my new skills.

You might recall I've begun working on a new Guide to Norton Ghost, based on Ghost 12 (Rad NG12). This new guide will be layed out with a CSS-based (table-less) 3-column liquid/fluid design (with header & footer), which I've selected from a variety of pre-coded templates available in Dreamweaver.

••••• today's entry continues below •••••

I'm finding this newfangled XHTML/CSS-based table-less layout significantly more difficult/complicated to work with .. compared to the old HTML web pages used with the original Rad Ghost guide, layed out using tables (a technique which XHTML standards disapprove of).

For example, today I ran into a problem with the lengths of the sidebars (red), which failed to reach the bottom of the page. In the original Rad Ghost guide, which is based on tables, this was never an issue. All columns in a table automatically stretch to the length of the longest column (cuz they're all part of the same table-row).

But everybody these days pooh-poohs tables (not sure why, since they seem to work so well), preferring to layout a web page using divs & CSS. With a table-less layout, I had a heck of a time figuring out how to achive a seemingly simple result.

If you've been down this road, you probably know about Dan Cederholm's Faux columns, and similar articles by Dave Childs and Zoe (all of which make my head hurt).

Builder.com addressed the problem with > Getting equal-height columns in a three-column layout, as did SitePoint.

After considerable searching, I managed to find to simpler solution, one based on JavaScript > the Matching Columns Script. If something this small involved jumping thru hoops this big, it's hard to argue the newer standards are better. The folks crafting these standards are doing me no great favor.

Jennifer argues that, while learning standards-based XHTML/CSS layout may be more complicated initially, it compensates by being easier to *maintain* .. in the long haul. I hope she's right (tho I remain skeptical). If I didn't find that script, I'd probably layout my pages with old html-based tables.

I have researched books on this topic, and the two highlights that standout are the HeadFirst book, and the one by Liz Castro. Both continue to rank high on Amazon.com's BestSellers list, and have a ton of positive reviews.


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Comments (1)

Mastering new web technologies is crucial in staying relevant, but it's no easy feat. The constant evolution presents challenges, much like keeping a website pristine. Speaking of which, Noosa Heads Pressure Cleaning does an impeccable job with power wash, showcasing the importance of mastering one's craft in any field.

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