Tags: resources

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Starting out

I had a really enjoyable time at Codebar Brighton last week, not least because Morty came along.

I particularly enjoy teaching people who have zero previous experience of making a web page. There’s something about explaining HTML and CSS from first principles that appeals to me. I especially love it when people ask lots of questions. “What does this element do?”, “Why do some elements have closing tags and others don’t?”, “Why is it textarea and not input type="textarea"?” The answer usually involves me going down a rabbit-hole of web archeology, so I’m in my happy place.

But there’s only so much time at Codebar each week, so it’s nice to be able to point people to other resources that they can peruse at their leisure. It turns out that’s it’s actually kind of tricky to find resources at that level. There are lots of great articles and tutorials out there for professional web developers—Smashing Magazine, A List Apart, CSS Tricks, etc.—but no so much for complete beginners.

Here are some of the resources I’ve found:

  • MarkSheet by Jeremy Thomas is a free HTML and CSS tutorial. It starts with an explanation of the internet, then the World Wide Web, and then web browsers, before diving into HTML syntax. Jeremy is the same guy who recently made CSS Reference.
  • Learn to Code HTML & CSS by Shay Howe is another free online book. You can buy a paper copy too. It’s filled with good, clear explanations.
  • Zero to Hero Coding by Vera Deák is an ongoing series. She’s starting out on her career as a front-end developer, so her perspective is particularly valuable.

If I find any more handy resources, I’ll link to them and tag them with “learning”.

100 words 025

I often get asked what resources I’d recommend for someone totally new to making websites. There are surprisingly few tutorials out there aimed at the complete beginner. There’s Jon Duckett’s excellent—and beautiful—book. There’s the Codebar curriculum (which I keep meaning to edit and update; it’s all on Github).

Now there’s a new resource by Damian Wielgosik called How to Code in HTML5 and CSS3. Personally, I would drop the “5” and the “3”, but that’s a minor quibble; this is a great book. It manages to introduce concepts in a logical, understandable way.

And it’s free.

Bite Size Vitamin

A web developer’s life is a merry ol’ life. It just got even merrier with the unveiling of two great new resources.

Bite Size Standards is the brainchild of John Oxton. It’s a collaborative effort put together by a lot of very talented people. The site provides quick, easy to digest nuggets of wisdom for the princely sum of no cost whatsoever.

Vitamin is also providing free, valuable information. Also a product of collaboration, it’s the newest champion from the stables of Carson Systems. The first issue has set the bar high with some excellent articles: be sure to read Mike Rundle’s great article on visual design for the web.

Eric Meyer has also written a great piece for the inaugural issue called Making Popular Layout Decisions. It touches on a lot of the issues that I raised in my recent post about polarisation of opinion. In a nutshell: there are no absolutely right or wrong decisions. The classic example that Eric cites is the ol’ fixed/liquid conundrum (although he does oversimplify things somewhat when he says of liquid layouts, “users with really wide windows will get really long lines of text, which most people find difficult to read” — it ain’t necessarily so, although this is true of the many poorly-implemented liquid designs out there).

The Vitamin site itself is a wonderful example of compromise in that area. It looks equally great at 800 pixels, 1024 pixels, or any other arbitrary browser width. It always give me a warm glow to see such detailed attention paid to the user’s needs.

The visual design is also very appealing. It kind of reminds me of old-school Evolt mixed with K10K, updated for the standards-savvy crowd.

If you take your Bite Size Standards and your Vitamin and wash it down with the always wonderful A List Apart (a triple issue is out this week), you’ve got the perfect balanced diet of web design resources.

And if you don’t like any of them, you can always demand your money back.