Friday, 6 May 2011

Is the web a good resource for web developers?


I know that the question has been raised in the past a lot of times. The number of web sites claiming to help web developers and designers is incredible. When we search for help for example with Google, we are undoubtedly easily misled and the answer we think will solve our initial issue, might end up being completely wrong. In fact, if the provided solution is not working at all, we can immediately understand it was wrong. However, if it works, we are utterly convinced that the wonderful snippet we have found is pure gold. We happily insert it in our web page and we think we have learnt something new. That's not always true.

The plethora of teaching sites
I've followed many web sites and forum in the past and I've taken information from people thinking they were experienced web developers and skilled programmers. That I did at my own risk and I've paid the consequences. Web standards are not a personal opinion. There's the World Wide Web Consortium which actively develops standards. At the same time, there are millions of individuals who write about web development and programming. They use forums, blog (as The Web Thought) and recently even the so called social networks.
It is difficult to easily understand if the gathered information is good or - let me put it straight - evil. As said, many times the result is not very dangerous, some times it could be.

An example
If I tell you that you should always use charset="ISO-8859-1" in the meta tag of your page, how would you react? It could be a solution to a problem, but - generally speaking - it is not a very good advise. It is a bad advise, actually! UTF-8 should be used in most cases.
In forums, when a question is posted, the answer usually is related to the question itself. It could be the answer for others as well, and it could provide a solution for them.
In blogs, that could be a problem. It's another story... A blog - usually - is not conceived as forums. It is not primarily a discussion place.
Secondly, bloggers can make mistakes - indeed. That is why blogs have a comments section (which is usually ignored by casual visitors and loved by spammers!). Comments can be submitted to correct mistakes, to confirm the solution provided in the post or to develop it more and more. Comments make a blog similar to a discussion forum.
Thirdly, some times blogger tends to write a lot, without checking the contents. No comments, no mistakes and the circle is closed. They keep on feeding the web with misleading information.

Where to search?
So... where should we look for answers?
I should probably say: "Well, my friend, here! The Web Thought is the best place!", but I would probably be a little bit blatant - well just a little bit, uh?
Ok, forget about it. Let me tell you that there are very good web resources, where you can really learn stuff about programming.
For example the w3c wiki is a good place to start. It has all you need.
Then I personally find Mozilla Developer Network an invaluable resource, as well as HTML Dog.

Please use the comment section. Please, please, please. Let me know if you find difficulties, if the code provided is not working or anything else.
I personally check the code I use with different browsers and even different versions of the same browser. I some times discover that I was wrong, even when I thought I checked the code thoroughly. Well, it has happened recently, and it is tough to discover that after more than 10 years of programming I’m still capable of making mistakes. But I am human after all. That discovery actually made me think about writing this very article...

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