About five years ago, I sat down with a “Teach yourself HTML” book and a HTML editor, Hotdog, obtained from a CD on the front of a computer magazine, and wrote my first website. I had no idea what I was doing, but by trial and error (and a lot of help from friends) ended up with a site that worked, even if there was an awful lot of excess HTML floating around in it. Amazingly enough, that site worked pretty well until a few months ago, when I started to get complaints about its usability.
In the meantime I’d started a blog on Blogger, Philobiblon. By the same trial and error method I taught myself about CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) – although I only learnt that was what I was using a few months ago, when I started thinking about constructing a series of websites/blogs.
So, I thought, I should start again from the beginning, and acquired Thomas Myer’s No Nonsense XML Web Development With PHP. Reading through it, I quickly concluded that if I was to teach myself XML and PHP from the ground up, this would be a good way to do it. The book is well-structured, starting from the basics and explaining what you are doing in as close to “ordinary” English as is feasible. It also, importantly, has a good index.
But, in the end I decided, I just don’t have the time to start at the beginning and teach myself the full range of XML skills. I’m never going to be a real website developer; I’m really a content person. So I’ll just pick it up by the hit and miss method I’ve been using so far – usually knowing almost as much as I need, and begging for help when that fails.
But the book will still come in handy. When I stumble across something I don’t understand in the code of my new WordPress site, My London Your London, this reference will be by my side.
I’ve just one small complaint to the publisher, Sitepoint: Could you make a little more effort with the cover? What looks like a very bad bit of clip art, coloured a sickly orange, doesn’t an attractive image make.