About this Site - Coding & Design
This site was originally created on 27 February 2002. It serves two primary functions:
- to allow me to post my genealogical research interests and files.
- to allow me to learn web-site programming and design, which I am teaching myself in my spare time
It may, from time-to-time, serve other purposes as well.
Visitors will note these two main functions do not always work hand-in-hand. I do hope the genealogy files posted here will benefit as large an audience as possible. But, not all genealogists have the latest computer equipment with up-to-date web browsers. I do not fault anyone for that. However, I cannot limit my training in web design simply to meet the requirements of the ever-decreasing number of people still using outdated browser software. As the warning on the Welcome page states, this site is best viewed using the latest browsers. It can be viewed with older browsers but it won't quite format correctly. Fortunately, though, it is still quite legible both on-screen and in print.
I started teaching myself HTML in late February 2002 after a friend demonstrated the basics to me.
To-date, I have not used any web developer programs like DreamWeaver. My belief is that manual coding better helps me to learn and understand the basics of HTML and CSS.
I use Text Wrangler, for Mac, as my HTML editor. Graphics are created in PhotoShop. I have access to the latest version of Firefox, Opera, Safari and Chrome for testing and other purposes. Since switching to Mac a couple of years ago, I no longer have direct access to Microsoft's Internet Explorer. This is somewhat regrettable as IE has never been standards-compliant (with reference to the W3C standards for HTML and CSS). Because so many people still rely on some version of IE for their default browser, it is necessary to ensure websites will render correctly when viewed with IE. It is somewhat unfortunate, then, that I can't directly test my designs in Internet Explorer. And, therefore, I understand that those who still rely on IE, or older versions of other web browsers, may not see these pages as intended.
As my knowledge of web design grows, visitors can expect some changes to the site. These may be barely perceptible or they may involve a major re-design of the entire site. Such alterations will not affect the genealogical material posted to the site.
This is probably a good time to mention that I don't always work with original designs. While this site, along with a couple of others that I maintain, was built from scratch, I now find myself relying more and more on ready-made templates for new sites. Many can be had for free, and there are a number of commercial sites that sell templates at very reasonable prices. Thus, I'm now more likely to purchase a template and modify or customize the code for my own purposes then design one from the ground up.
Web Design Resources:
My main reference book is "Visual Quickstart Guide: HTML5 and CSS, 7th Edition" by Elizabeth Castro and Bruce Hyslop.
I use Cascading Style Sheets: The Definitive Guide (2nd Edition)" by Eric A. Meyer as my primary reference for CSS. I also use his book "Eric Meyer on CSS: Mastering the Language of Web Design" as a supplementary guide, especially when I need to reference working examples of CSS. Designed for intermediate to advanced users, it is a good follow-up to the basic CSS discussed in Castro's book. The book has a companion website that provides all the projects, code, and errata. Eric Meyer maintains his personal website at Meyerweb.com. It contains links to his CSS Information page as well as his cutting-edge CSS design demos at CSS/Edge. Note that with the advent of CSS3 on the horizon, Meyer's books are now a little dated.
A good on-line reference for both novices and more advanced programmers is the HTML Goodies website. It contains many good tutorials as well as tips, tricks, and free code for many of the neat format and design features that you've seen on the web but didn't know how to do.
Web Design Philosophies:
My primary design philosophies are simplicity, ease of use, and a standardized appearance within each individual site. I still adhere to these basic principals.