Thursday, April 12, 2007

Gareth’s Course in Wed Development: Course Structure

For this post I have decided to highlight my own personal plan toward achieving my goals in web design.

Actually it isn't so much a plan as it is four areas where I feel if I focus my energies that I will be rewarded.

This is my four-pronged attack as I like to call it.

1: Accessibility

Accessibility is a word that is often used in circles of web designers where the aim is to provide professional and standards compliant web sites that are accessible to a wider range of visitors regardless of disabilities. Being a reader of .net magazine and a frequent visitor to their excellent web forum I am seeing this as being a particular area of concern for people.

It is my hope to build web sites that, as best as possible, adhere to accessibility guidelines. I will be using this document to help me develop accessibility within my web sites and then submitting my work for review to this thread at the .net forum to see how well I have done.

2: CSS - Cascading Style Sheets

I learned how to design web sites from tutorials dating back to the glorious days of table-based layouts! These days such design conventions are frowned upon by the web development community. Tables should only be used for displaying tablature data and using them for anything else contradicts the very thing I am trying to achieve in creating accessible websites.

I have dabbled with CSS web design but have always been put off by the inconsistency of support for it across the various web browsers out there. What looks good in one might not look good in another. The thing is there are work arounds and bug-fixes for such issues and these are all well documented. So I figure if I’m going to take on this web development endeavour with any kind of seriousness then I need to take the time to learn CSS and be able to create fully cross-platform compatible websites.

3: PHP & MySQL

This one is a bit of a reach for me. Some might say that I should focus on the above 2 points before moving onto anything else and that there is enough in accessibility and CSS to keep me busy.

The thing is I have a genuine itch to develop! A number of years back I did a masters degree in computer science wherein we worked with Java. At first I found the whole concept of development to be tricky and struggled to get my head round it. By the time I had finished I felt I had reached a stage with Java where I could do practically anything with the language (within reason) that I put my mind to.

Unfortunately I graduated, discovered the real world and realised that my dream of being a developer would never happen. I ended up working in a support role, then project management and account management and only once have I had the slightest glimmer of getting involved in development work. At one stage I was promised that I would be given development work to do but got told a number of months later that this wouldn't happen. Much to the surprise of me and the lead developer, who was fighting in my corner.

So I've dabbled in a bit of java in my free time and looked at C# but ultimately there's not much you can do with these if it's a hobby! This is why I have a soft spot for PHP and MySQL as these are development tools that I can put to practical use. As a matter of fact I’ve just completed my first database driven content management system which, despite its simplistic nature, has worked in every way I had imagined.

4: Javascript

Back when I did my Masters part of the course touched upon web design and one area we looked at was javascript. I know that for a while there javascript was considered to be incompatible with standards compliant web design but that this is now no longer the case. Javascript can be implemented in web sites and still be compliant and this is something that I wish to learn. More specifically I will be looking at DOM Scripting.

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So that’s it really. I’m hoping that by focusing on these areas and approaching them as if they were a course I am taking that in time I will be able to create the kinds of web sites that I can picture in my head, that is dynamic, accessible and standards compliant database driven websites with front-end client-side functionality.

6 comments:

Michael Stone said...

Having dipped a toe into the web-design pool -- and it really was a toe-dip, nothing more, just tables and erm, some other stuff I've forgotten already! -- I'm full of admiration for someone who can take this stuff on board and actually apply it. I've seen the designs you've done so far and they're good, solid presentations.

More power to your elbow, mate.

BTW, that typo in the post's title, was your mind on the forthcoming nuptials? :)

Gerard Brennan said...

Awooga!

Sorry, I gave up half way through, but feel free to link to my site and tell folks it's your design. :)

I am impressed, like.

gb

Gareth Watson said...

Hey Mike,

Yup! Am very focused on the upcoming marriage between mineself and mine sweetheart! Can't wait!

You shouldn't admire what i'm doing. In actuality i've admiration for what you've accomplished with your writing and with the advice and guidance i see you provide on an almost daily basis at Live Journal.

Kudo to you Mr Stone.

Gareth Watson said...

Gerard!

Greetings buddy!

I'm not surprised you gave up! I'm going to leave my LJ blog for my more mindless comments and this will be all boring geeky stuff.

Not going to link to any sites just yet but i will in due course.

Nadia said...

And here she is again! I must say that all this sounds fascinating, and loses me half way through also. You sound exceedingly clever here. Not that you don't sound clever elsewhere.

*removes foot from mouth and slinks away*

Gareth Watson said...

Dammit!!

I thought i was being original with my Blogger blog!

I'm the bloody last one to have one!!

This blog site has some advantages over LJ and LJ has some advantages over Blogger!

When i'm up to speed with my development skills i'm going to design a blog site that combines the best bits of LJ and Blogger!

By the way Nadia thanks for your kind words... i'm trying to bluff that i know what i'm doing whereas over at LJ you see the real me!!