You know, “web design” in a pretty unique art/engineering field because more than any other that I can think of, your work is completely naked. What I mean is that I can select “View Source” from my browser and see exactly how people built their websites. It’s like you go into a restaurant and the recipe for every dish is written on the bottom of the plate. Or you have the ability to look directly at every architect’s blueprints.
I’ve been looking under the hood of many many websites since I decided to invest the time in being a professional developer, including those of some major business and (as I wrote earlier) of some web design firms themselves.
My overwhelming observation is that almost no web designers are using modern CSS layout technologies in their web designs. At first I was completely stymied. I mean, this is their livelihood! Forgive all my similes today, but that’s like a surgeon refusing to keep up on major advances in her or his field. And yet I’m finally beginning to understand what’s happening: modern web design (specifically CSS layout) requires designers to be “coders”.
Most everyone can pass over this blog posting. I was writing a lengthy e-mail to a friend who is considering “seeing the light” and moving to Mac. Her big concern is that she has a lot of old WordPerfect files. So this guide talks about (a) the different Word Processing options for your new Mac and (b) the two Windows “emulators” that will allow you to install a copy of Windows on your new (Intel) Mac.
First and most important, for anyone interested in improving their website design skills there are two books I would put on the “mandatory buy now” list:
I have spent the better part of a week carefully working through the pages of both tombs and feel already transformed in terms of CSS and design capability. I was inspired by these books to create (in Photoshop) a mock-up that is a million times better than the mock-up that I’d scratched together on a piece of paper only three weeks ago. I’m rather excited to spent the next few days actually encoding this into XHTML and CSS to bring it to a reality.
And so now with enthusiasm I’m in the mood to work as a web designer. As anyone who has read my blog will know, there are aspects to being the independent freelancer that have driven me to misery so this afternoon I went on a web-search to see if there were any web design companies in Northern Los Angeles for which I would want to work. My findings have been both sobering and hilarious.
If you’ve never heard of OpenOffice (and I’m not just talking Apple here) you should educate yourself. It is a full “office suite” that can compete fully with the likes of Microsoft Office, Corel Office, Lotus SmartSuite and Apple’s “iWork” suite. It actually has a rich and fascinating history, dating back to its origin as “Star Office”, a German product that was proudly touting advanced Object Oriented design and cross compatibility between Windows and IBM’s OS/2. We’re talking circa 1995 here.
I don’t remember the particulars, but Sun bought Star Office and did the split-personality part-open-source, part-commercial development thing, like Netscape had with Mozilla. Essentially they made it an open source application “OpenOffice” to attract a wide developer base while keeping a closed-license version they could charge money for. OpenOffice is really a viable product on two platforms: Linux/Unix and Windows. For a long time it has been a viable alternative to Microsoft Office, and some government agencies in the US and abroad have attempted to standardize on it in order to escape Microsoft’s expensive licensing. (To mixed results.)
“So where’s the Apple OS X version?” you may ask. Well, the answer to that is far from simple.