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Front End Developer Course: Round 1, Jan 6 2010

The first class for the Front-End Developer Course was today. It was an overview of web standards and design principles.

Some takeaways I had were that you want to focus on the structure first (html), the presentation second (css), and the behavior last (javascript).

HTML

With HTML you should make it semantically structured so that the important parts of the document are well defined in the structure. Headers should have header tags, paragraphs should be wrapped in paragraphs. One should design hooks into the structure as well to help facilitate the presentation layer, and possible the behavior layer. This separation enhances accessibility, SEO and helps keep the code easier to read and maintain.

CSS

The CSS can do its thing and roughly most browsers support CSS2 and some CSS3. IE, no news here, is the laggard and most other browsers are more compliant with industry standards.

Javascript

Javascript should be unobtrusive. I adhere to this most of the time but I have seen code in the current project I'm working on that simply isn't designed up front for operation without javascript. So, in place of a DIV that responds to a click or intercepts a keyboard event, one would use forms perhaps with a default submit action that is reasonable. At least the page would work partially, but it possible wouldn't have all the features of a site where javascript is enabled.

Another thing mentioned that seems to be similar, while different from unobtrusive javascript, is "Progressive Enhancement" and "Graceful Degradation". The ideas are similar to unobtrusive javascript in that they keep the site functioning when something isn't quite working, and add functionality only when it can, but leaving similar functionality when it's gone. It seems that this is the same concept as unobtrusive javascript but taken into account with more things like ALT tags on images and other things to make the experience better in more possible situations.

The State of the Browsers

IE 8 and IE 7 are the dominant browsers at the church sites. Firefox 3.0 and 3.5 are next with some other browser taking up the rest - namely Safari, Firefox 3.6 and IE 6.

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