Sometimes, the Beginning is the best place to Continue

I’ve been taking an online course on CSS that starts from the basics.

My original ‘course’ in CSS was on the job training as we converted a site from tables to CSS divs somewhere in the summer of 2000.

A lot has changed in the world of web programming since the dot-com boom when I was doing it professionally (well, as professionally as any of us were, I suppose), and while I still make web things, from WordPress plugins and themes to even dabbling in React.js and Svelte, it’s not my profession anymore. This means that while I’m dipping my toes back in everyone in a while—scraping through Google searches to find the answers to my questions—I’m not active enough in the space to catch up by working.

That was how I learned these things, programming Perl, then PHP, adding JavaScript to have mouse-overs. Tables for layout, and I’m going to admit here, in public, that there are days I wish we went back to tables for layout. I learned CSS ‘real-time’ as we updated the site from tables, hard coded styles and background images to a more fluid CSS layout over the summer.

The thing is this: sometimes the best way to learn is to start from the beginning. Sure, I know everything in the first couple lessons, but it wasn’t long before something new came out. A new term, a new phrase, a new best practice.

I know CSS. But I learned it then and patch-worked myself through updates and improvements throughout these years. I knew CSS, and even though I still use it often, the foundation is based on the lessons learned, right and wrong, all those years ago. At some point… at this point, the best way to continue learning is to start over.

Because it is not just specs and code that has changed over the years, but vocabulary, best practices, formatting and naming conventions (not that we had naming conventions in 1999).

This makes a basic course a refresher and a new foundation to build on from here. Don’t be afraid or prideful to take a step back and go over the basics once again.

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