15 November 2012

The trouble with HTML and CSS skills

When talking to recruitment agents, I very often hear that having “just” HTML and CSS skills is no big deal as everyone is good at those. That’s probably because they hear and read so many times from web developers that they are really good at them. So, they think those skills are not very valuable.

But the truth is, while many developers say they have good HTML and CSS skills, most of them really haven’t. The problem is that the languages themselves are very easy (so, they might not be really lying as such). But applying them to real world projects isn’t easy at all. You could also say it’s the distinction between “CSS, the language” and “CSS, the skill”.
If it was easy, why is the quality of at least 90% of the web so crap? While working with other developers I have found that the vast majority (at least about 90%) of them are overestimating their HTML and CSS skills by far.

During the over 10 years of working in this business, I have worked with roughly 100 other web developers. And out of those only five were good enough in HTML and CSS so that I would rate them 4 or 5 (out of 5).

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20 October 2012

The Story behind DokuWiki’s new Template

DokuWiki finally has a new default template (aka skin or theme) since its latest release (2012-10-13 “Adora Belle”). It has been active on dokuwiki.org for a few months now and I’m happy that the general opinion of it seems to be “awesome”. :)

That template has a long and interesting story to tell, especially about processes in the OpenSource community and the lack of designers therein. Even professional web developers will probably be surprised at how much effort actually went into making it.
So, here is its story:
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5 August 2012

Error reporting for HTML

Never heard of error reporting for HTML? Well, me neither, but I plan to use it soon…
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4 March 2012

‘All New People’ dangerously dark

Yesterday I went to see Zach Braff‘s play “All New People“. And although I remember to have enjoyed it, my memory of it is now overshadowed by how depressed it made (and still makes) me feel afterwards. However good the cast or funny the script was, the depressing tone and hopeless ending has ruined the whole play for me (and the whole weekend actually). Because what the play gives you to take home is hard to digest: You will never be happy, you have to fight every day again and again and you will never have friends.
The play starts with the main character who is about to commit suicide. And although he is still alive at the end, you go home with the feeling he will kill himself soon afterwards anyway.
(This whole situation actually reminds me a bit of Andi’s post about the death of the Maulwurfn.)

My ticket for the play with artificial blood all over it

Yes, that's just ketchup.

I’m not saying this play should have a happy ending. I particularly don’t like happy endings most of the time. The more realistic, the better. But the ending to “All New People” is not just an unhappy one, it’s a devastating one! And if you identify a lot with the main character (like I do), this can obviously get dangerous.
Whenever the BBC is showing any kind of upsetting programmes (e.g. a documentary about suicide or a feature film about Alzheimer’s or a discussion about domestic violence or whatever), they always make people aware of a helpline at the end of the programme, in case it might affect anyone too much. I think something similar to that would have been a very good idea for this play. Maybe they could have warned people before or could have offered a counsellor on site afterwards or given out leaflets with information and helplines etc.

So, as they have irresponsibly failed to give a warning, here is mine instead:

If you are emotionally unstable or have lost someone to suicide or have any other reason to be upset by the subject, don’t watch the play! Or watch it only together with friends. But in case you are more like the main character, you won’t have any friends, in which case I repeat my first advice: Seriously, don’t watch the play! It will only make you feel awful and hopeless.

Has this play had any real life suicides connected to it already? If it hasn’t yet, it might be just a matter of time…
You think I’m overreacting? Yes, I probably am. But on the other hand, there are people who are much worse off than me, whose more severe overreaction might take a nasty turn.

A little disclaimer at the end: I don’t want to make the play sound bad at all. Because it isn’t! Many other (“happy”) people will most probably enjoy it a lot. (I tried to rate it during the play. Then I would have rated it 7 out of 10. It definitely has its excellent moments. But because of the problems I had afterwards, in the end I’d rather not rate it at all.)

21 October 2011

In search of a good CMS

I just spent a few days trying to get an overview of all the different CMS out there nowadays.
I restricted my search to free OpenSource PHP CMS. Those are still hundreds, but at least that rules out some like ExpressionEngine, CushyCMS (not free) and PlonedotCMSAlfrescoUmbracoRadiant (not PHP) and DokuWikiWordPressSerendipity (not a CMS). (I was surprised that, according to several sources, WordPress is the most popular CMS by far! Although I can see how you can include it in your definition of a CMS, I only wanted to concentrate on those which were meant to be used as one.)

  1. I had a look at about 100 different CMS at opensourceCMS.com. (Their demo for each CMS listed there is a pretty cool feature that let’s you at least see one of the most important parts of a CMS at once: the admin interface.) Then I did a bit of research, i.e. googling what others use and like and don’t like and tried a few others which were not listed at opensourceCMS.com.
    A few really popular CMS failed already at that stage: Joomla!TYPO3CMS Made SimpleXOOPSe107 and SilverStripe. (I.e. their admin interface failed to convince me, I haven’t had a look beyond that at that point).
  2. In the end I ended up with 18 different CMS I installed and tested more thoroughly.
  3. I will go into detail about 7 of them below…

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