Andrew Burke

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Back to School
Posted on: 2006-06-13

I learned HTML in 1994.

I learned HTML back when tables were really exciting. In fact I learned about tables from a how-to page written by Marc Andreessen himself, explaining the neat stuff he had recently added.

Because this was the mid 90s, it only took about a year before I found myself teaching HTML and web page design in the Continuing Education department at a local community college. I had actually built sites that used frames and optimized GIFs! I had read Creating Killer Web Sites (the first edition).

This background was good enough to keep me going for about a decade. I spent most of my time wrestling with Lotus Domino, more concerned with getting it to display any HTML cleanly than with the HTML itself. If there were demands for fancier stuff, I knew people who could whip things up in DreamWeaver, or I could use Adobe ImageReady to integrate slick graphics with my content. I've used CSS and DHTML and I'm even using AJAX these days.

However, in the last year or so, I've been feeling a little left behind. I've tried using CSS for fancier layouts and have never really been that satisfied with the results. I've kept using tables for layouts and often still use the single <P> tag.

That's soooo 1996.

So I'm going back to step one. I just picked up Head First HTML & CSS - I had a good experience with their JSP book - and I'm re-learning HTML, but this time in 2006 rather than 1994. I could have just used a reference or an on-line guide, but that's what I've been using to half-teach myself for the last decade. It's time I learned how things really fit together.

Okay, so the first half is mostly stuff that I already know, and I'm a little embarrassed to be seen with it in public - 'he needs the book with the big pictures just to learn HTML? What a n00b!' - but from flipping ahead to random parts of the second part, I've already had a lot of things clarified for me.

When I finish the book, I may still do all of my layouts with tables, but at least I'll know why I did.

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