Unique Ways to Learn…

Dan  Cederholm has been one of my favorite web designers to follow for a long time. There is something about the simplicity of his words – not simple words, but clear and concise when he describes a coding process, that I found in the first book of his that I read and used for my classes (Web Standards Solutions).

Reading his Simplebits website this morning, I read about his recent WordPress theme Pears. I have read the brief article before, but this time I went to the link for Pears [pear.rs] and discovered an amazing idea – to create a website to “collect, test, and experiment with interface pattern pairings of CSS and HTML”. The design is mainly for the user to create a collection of their own such patterns with the unique features of the theme’s structure. The left column is where you define a pattern you want to build and collect. When you select the pattern, the top half of the page becomes the pattern – a coded demonstration. The bottom half is a split window with the code used to create the pattern with the HTML on one side and the CSS on the other. What a great tool for learning and for storing snippets of code!

I highly recommend visiting pear.rs if you are just learning to code html and css, and to try the theme when you have your own hosting service as a tool for developing your own “patterns”. It is a great tool to add to my personal learning environment too!

Somehow, while on Simplebits my iPad jumped to Instagram.com/simplebits. Dan has collected a series of images to share – which probably are places and people where he lives. I have not bothered with Instagram before now, but I realized I have many images of my community that would be fun to share in this type of “biographical story”. Another project, but it looks like a fun way to share the community I am so attracted to and involved with.

The problem with reading everything without thinking

Heydon Pickering wrote an excellent article today about “The Importance of Sections” at Smashing Magazine. I highly recommend this article – one of those “I wish I could write that clearly” articles that explains the new HTML5 Sectioning elements. In the article he references the “sectioning elements” from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) wiki site that is also a good example of better writing on the W3C site – clean, understandable code examples of the sectioning elements in HTML5. In teaching html5 sectioning, I had delayed going “fully HTML5” by keeping <div>’s as part of learning to section content in our courses but recently in all web scripting courses, we are now fully implementing the newer HTML5 style of sectioning with the article, section, nav, and aside elements. The transition followed what major designers were doing and now most designers are implementing the html5 sectioning – which is why we made the transition.

Please read the Heydon article and the W3C article and practice these important and useful semantic methods of writing web standards based code. I think you will find Heydon’s writing interesting and very informative. He specializes in semantics – so expect it to be accurate and meaningful.

However, one of my purposes for this article is to also reference another article about the same topic, with a much different perspective – one that argues for forgetting about the new html5 elements. Luke Stephens wrote three articles at WebDesigner Depot that “they’re actually some of the most poorly specified, poorly understood, and poorly implemented parts of HTML5” referencing the “structural elements” [sic Section Elements) of HTML5. He states that you simply “shouldn’t use them”.

My concern with Luke’s article is that it is an example of opinion, and he authorizes himself as the author of a book about HTML5 as proof that he knows what he is talking about. Please read Luke’s articles to see his point of view and make your own decisions about these two different perspectives about changes in coding with HTML5.

Colleges and universities are often criticized by developers as teaching outdated stuff, and not keeping up to date. Our programs have been teaching Web Standards based html/css since there were standards. Articles by “designers” such as Mr. Stephens do not help us keep the content in line with Web Standards. I have coded html before there was CSS and before Web Standards were prevalent. I don’t think the web design community wants to go back to the days of browser wars and every individual deciding to create code the way they think it should be done. There are many top designers/developers that not only believe in the Web Standards process, but that is the way the code – and they do pretty well at that!

Luke Stephens article at Webdesigner Depot : “The Harsh Truth About HTML5’s Structural Semantics“. Links to part 2, and part 3 are at the end of the first and second articles.