Change is the norm, the skills curve

Which CMS ?

I’ve done a little bit of investigation into the pro’s and cons’s to consider when choosing between WordPress, Joomla and Drupal as your development platform. There are plenty of job adverts for Drupal developers despite WordPress being the hot favourite. I’ve started   a book about Drupal to get a bit more of an overview. It started with a great chapter about what a  CMS system is and how we have come to rely on them so much. CMS’s  have come to be popular in modern day Web development. Very interesting !

Use the JQuery Luke !

I’m still working through the excellent , free JQuery course at tuts+ ,  which comes complete with down-loadable source  to play with 🙂 These tutorials offer a great way to get up to speed with skills. Technical books often seem to focus in on the details whereas video training offers a glimpse into real world development practices. Some people just learn better from hearing and seeing things explained. I think everyone learns more when they actually try to code an example them selves though.

The Bug

You know when you’ve caught the Web Developer bug , when you find your self firing up  the Web Inspector (OPT+CMD+I on Mac LOL)   on random pages you visit, because you have to to see how they tick. For example  I’ve just been to myschoolholidays to check out when the schools break up for easter ( I definitely think i’ve earned a camping trip to the Lakes some time soon !) Any how, myschoolholidays has a rather neat ‘Click to Zoom’ feature which I have never seen before.

A little bit of inspecting and digging through the resources panel reveals that they are making use of the excellent  zoomooz JQuery plugin. I can only begin to think how this all works under the hood, it’s only 6kB worth of code though ! The basic principle of zooming on a page must somehow make use of CSS3 transformations and all sorts of clever tricks I guess.

This is real the beauty of JQuery in general though, I mean, I’ve spent hours studying  ‘JavaScript the Definitive Guide’ but in practice, most  developers probably get by with just learning JQuery .  As the documentation page for zoomooz says ‘ Have a look at the Examples and start Hacking !’ 🙂 In fact if you insist on using ‘vanilla’ Javascript, most of the time you will be re-inventing the wheel or worse, running into cross browser compatibility issues now or in the future.

My current project is to  add a Bootstrap front-end to my Hills Database. The next step is to move the ‘Loading…’ graphic and the configuration settings into their own modal windows. After that I could perhaps add some funky background textures, a relevant colour scheme and so on to make it look even nicer.

Having read the Docs. I have a clearer understanding of how the responsive grid classes work in Bootstrap, so now I can also add some more classes to the form controls. The components of the form ought to still line up properly on smaller displays like the iPad etc. Bootstrap does all this for you, once you understand how to use it that is.

The Curve

I think I’m starting to realise that there is always going to be new stuff to learn about in Web Development. ‘Learning’ Web Coding is  like chasing a moving target. When I started reading about HTML in 2010  we were just getting used to XHTML and I knew there was a hell of a lot of stuff to learn about. Now we are firmly in the HTML5 Era. and it’s as exciting a time as ever to be a Web developer.

What’s  amazing really is to see how things evolve, even whilst you learn about them .   It’s critical to make use of the best available technologies and working practices, since things constantly evolve and at a very rapid pace on the Web.

I’m starting to find that actually creating web pages is perhaps the best way of all to learn about all this stuff , whilst discovering and adapting to the pace of change along the way. It’s essential to focus on being creative and productive  but  you definitely should be keeping your finger on the pulse of change.

IT has always been like this really, there is always something new to learn, a new product, something faster, better, cheaper, more efficient, easier, more automated…  Never a dull moment 🙂

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