I created my first webpage a long, long time ago.
The promise was that the web would be the next big thing and everyone needed a presence. So, I set out to do it knowing that others would be asking me how to do it. It’s almost comical to picture me doing it now. I’m sitting there with a list of HTML instructions printed out and on the desk to the right of me. I had Wordpad open and I’m fumbling along trying this and trying that. I had Netscape Navigator open to try each attempt at adding a statement to just see if I was being successful. I had no instruction, no idea where I was going, and all night to figure it out since the kids had gone to bed and my wife was working midnights.
It turned out that the first attempt didn’t actually take all that long. It was the customary “Hello World” bit of code that was being tested. Then, it was a matter of changing colours and adding more content. Then, the over the top moment was to add an image. I was so proud of myself. If I had a webserver, I could even go that extra mile and let others enjoy my success.
The process was itself coding. And, like good coding, success breeds success. The more that i got to work, the more I wanted to do.
I even found and included some code that turns a good looking page into something annoying by making it look as if it was snowing over my material.
Thankfully, sophisticated tools came along and relieved me of the task of learning and testing all of the HTML code and tags myself. I became a Dreamweaver junky and these days most of my content is displayed here, in WordPress. Even today though, the content appears magically through the genius that is HTML and CSS. For the most part, the tool that I use is ScribeFire. It’s an excellent tool that runs in Opera, Chrome, Firefox – basically everywhere I need to be.
The code certainly has become more sophisticated and ScribeFire does the heavy lifting. You can still check out the source of the page in your browser to see what happens behind the scenes.
There’s a great deal of instructions that I don’t have to worry about memorizing anymore. Better tools gives better results.
And yet, there are still times when my history of knowing HTML becomes necessary. Fortunately, ScribeFire has a button that lets you switch between a visual environment and the HTML and Markdown that’s happening behind the scenes.
Because not everything can be edited visually.
Case in point was yesterday’s post where I showed you the thumbnail images. They weren’t pictures from my blog. They were embedded from the BitPixels website. The site gives you the code and you make it happen.
<img src="http://img.bitpixels.com/getthumbnail?code=19261&size=100&url=http://dougpete.pbworks.com" alt="" />
As I noted in the post, you can adjust the size of the preview. But you need to be able to read the code and know how to edit it.
If you read the instruction above, you can see where this was the 100 pixel-sized image.
The process reinforces the need to be able to:
- read and understand a bit of the code of the web;
- edit the code;
- know exactly where in the document you want it to appear.
None of the above are done with the visual editor – you have to roll up your sleeves to get the job done.
If you talk to most any blogger, they find themselves in this situation every now and again – just to make things work.
Many people are devoting this week towards an awareness of coding. Many of the examples will result in some logic applied to create a game or a display or a new application. That’s an awareness, a start. Hopefully, it will inspire a continued interest in the power of coding, and ultimately the discipline of Computer Science.
Let’s not forget the humble HTML in all of this. As we turn to the web to produce, we have better and better tools to make it work. But, there are those moments where you have to get under the hood and do some tweaking. A knowledge and understanding of coding pays off there.