Some of you who know me, know that I roughly split my professional time between development and training. I’ve been lucky to have some success over the years, and I’ve managed to build up a pretty good rapport with local universities and colleges. Like any relationship, after a while, your input starts to be highly trusted, and I’m fortunate to find myself in this situation. It has put me in a position recently to get a new course on the books at area schools, I’ve called it “Building a Web Application: Concept to Completion Workshop”. Why do you care? It’s a course on how to build a web application using CodeIgniter and other “web 2.0” technologies.
We’re going to plan, wireframe, mockup and build a full-on, functional web-application. I’m not sure what exactly yet, but it’ll be something practical, and not a complex example of “hello world”. It’ll be data-intensive, and I’ll probably release the final product under the GPL, just like BambooInvoice.
The first run is going to be in North Toronto at Seneca College’s Markham Campus. If I get any interest from around Hamilton, I also have permission to start up a course at McMaster University.
To know more about why styles are disabled on this website visit the Annual CSS Naked Day website for more information.
Video tutorials are a great way to learn, which is why I built my own video tutorial for CodeIgniter, and made it available online as a working demo application.
Well active CodeIgniter member, Elliot Haughin, has decided to raise the bar, and has started releasing a series of CodeIgniter video tutorials. The first one basic pages module had some audio trouble, but overall looked great. The second, Dynamic Routing, Models and Page Navigation has none of these problems, and the app is starting to come together nicely.
Another fantastic contribution, thanks Elliot! As in my tutorial, its great to see how other people do things, even if you might choose to differ away slightly.
This blog post is about advice I'd give to aspiring webmasters. I'm going to try to lay down my honest thoughts here. If you are an aspiring webmaster, you might find some useful nuggets. If you are in a position to give advice to others, you might also find this interesting, if only to spark of discussion or actively and violently disagree with me.
I'm sometimes asked what advice I give to aspiring webmasters as they learn how to code and design. I always try to make up a new answer on the spot so that I can look smart, but the truth is that I don't really remember what I say from one time to the next. When I lecture and/or teach, I tend to fall into a stream-of-consciousness speaking style, and I don't really have a set script I follow. But today I had a unique opportunity to really gauge myself, and listen to what I said; today I started instructing the next cohort of Toronto webmasters in the art of code-fu...
The first day is always an interesting time, because what I invariably see are 15 or 16 highly gifted people, but they're clean slate in the sense of prior experience and expectations. They don't know who the W3C is, but they also don't use the <font> tag. They don't know about the Web Accessibility Initiative, but they also don't layout their pages in a soup of <td> elements. In short, they are starting their education without the baggage of years of bad habits and mis-information.
So today I made a concerted effort to not censor myself, and keep track of what I said. I wasn't totally successful, but I made a series of notes at the end of the day, which I present here for reference, review and general interest.
- Learn the meaning of the elements first. Don't concern yourself with specific technical implementation in the beginning, you can validate later. What you can't validate is that you're using code properly. Learn that first.
- Some elements and attributes that don't get really useful until you've lived with HTML for awhile: the <div> element, all the headings, unordered lists, and the class attribute (for both its CSS uses, and equally for its semantic potential).
- Some elements that seem really useful at first, but I really don't use very often: <br />, <img /> and <hr /> (although its not without its charms). Yeah I said image. I'm not saying images aren't useful, but used for decorative purposes background images are so much more flexible.
- Keep rebuilding things. Go back and re-build your personal site. Three times. Experience builds skill and speed.
- Communication skills and a love for learning are more important then raw talent. Note: That might be what I said - but I don't actually believe that last line. What I meant was that all other things being equal, I think a communicating learner will succeed more then someone with only raw talent.
- Standards matter. So does knowing their limits. Learn about the movement for HTML 5, and why some very smart people don't validate their sites.
- Learn how to learn. Your industry will change, and you'll need to change with it. I expect all skilled trades to be constantly learning. Could you imagine if your car mechanic hadn't updated their skills in 10 years? Learn to identify trends and industry leaders (blogs and RSS feeds are great for this) and learn to keep yourself up to date.
So there you have it. A few gems, straight from my stream-of-consciousness to yours. Oh yeah, one more thing... the title of this blog post? It was an homage to Hans and Franz ("We're going to PUMP - YOU UP!"). What advice would you give?
Let me reveal the Derek Allard Action Figure™ to the world! Yup, that's right, an action figure! Kung-fu grip and everything. Well, not really kung-fu grip. I guess that'll be kind of obvious when you look at the pictures below. Jennifer Dungan is a former student of mine who now earns her living as a freelance web designer/developer. Despite being busy coding up actionscript wizardry, she finds time for her hobbies. Now some people (not me I swear!) would say that this is an unusual hobby... but its hard not to admire the talent, skill and patience that goes into a project like this.
Check out the images to see what I mean! But first, let's get one thing absolutely clear... this is a Derek action figure, not a doll!
Those of you who know me know that I spend a lot of time teaching. I've even won a few pretty nice teaching awards for it (other award was at Seneca College). So I was very surprised to hear what my students really thought of me!
Now I have a complex!
I just finsihed teaching a wonderful class at McMaster University called database driven websites. It was part of McMaster’s Web Design and Development program, of which I am a principal instructor. This post is a way for us to stay in touch with each other and for continued updates into the world of PHP. If you weren’t a student, you are still welcome to browse, but I doubt you’ll find much interesting here. If you are a student, then read on!
I’ve decided not to password protect this post. You are free to create an account and comment with any alias you choose. Your email will not be publically available. I’ll be sure to post links to the source code of your final projects as I get them in. Thanks again for a great 14 weeks.
If anyone wants to track this thread, the easiest way to do it might be RSS (really simple syndication). I have a post about Using Firefox with RSS available.