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How CSS almost ruined my life

By Alex White

Yes, who would have thought that a web concept called Cascading Style Sheets would threaten to ruin my life? Well it almost did…

Hi, I’m mainly a self-taught web / graphic designer. Right from the beginning I was very determined to avoid hand-coding. Hand-coding is for geeks! Imagine wanting to alter a (photo)graphic image by hand-coding? You just wouldn’t do it, would you? Absolutely not!

FrontPage v Dreamweaver

Anyways, my main WYSIWYG web design axe has been Microsoft’s FrontPage 2002 – 2003. What drew me to FrontPage is that it has some cool stuff such as a way to create a simple forum, form processor, scheduled picture / page updates and so on. However, this technology is Microsoft’s very own and that means that one has to find a hosting service specialises in Microsoft hosting. Therefore when I create sites for others I have to avoid using Microsoft’s server technologies (FrontPage Extensions) – unless their hosting provider caters for FrontPage Extensions. What’s the point in that? It’s too limiting. I used to use Dreamweaver up until version 3 – or should I say under use to the point where I felt it was beyond my scope.

It wasn’t until recently that I have decided to return to the king of WYSIWYG web design programs mainly because of the outbreak of CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) and compliant web standards which have changed the way web pages are designed forever – that is if one is to be serious about web design. The only time I ever used CSS was to change the scrollbar colour (only affecting the Internet Explorer browser) and to create simple text roll-overs (when one creates a link to another page and / or site the colour of the text changes when the mouse is over it). Web page layout using CSS rather than tables just blew my mind!


I didn’t want to fork out near £400 for Dreamweaver. NO! So upon reading an ad in my local newspaper I signed-up for a course in Web Design coding by hand, would you believe? Why not? After all I do aspire to call myself a Web Designer. The prospect of re-educating myself to meet the new standards was exciting and that excitement soon turned to frustration with regards to CSS, JavaScript and the way in which these technologies were taught: Structure? What structure? I ended up dropping out of the course, but it wasn’t a complete waste of time. I did come to appreciate knowing about the basis of hand coding, JavaScript and CSS. But my knowledge was still incomplete. I spent a lot of money on books in an attempt to teach myself the wonders of CSS. I just wasn’t getting it. Searching the Net for a tutorial that I could understand was time consuming. Without knowing CSS I may as well forget about calling myself a Web Designer. I didn’t feel that I could achieve my dream of becoming a freelance / self-employed Web Designer. I became depressed. How could I charge people money if I’m not able to build sites using CSS? I’ve got a conscience, you know.

In life nothing happens by chance. Things happen for a reason. Upon my quest to learn CSS a Google search brought up the Futuretrend website. The course outline had me salivating: CSS, Website Accessibility & W3C – amongst other juicy stuff! The catch was that it was in conjunction with Dreamweaver. But, hey, why hand code everything when Dreamweaver can make life a little easier? What I noticed immediately was the generous prices for the courses, so I booked 3 courses after I had read up on the curriculum: An Intro to Dreamweaver, Dreamweaver Next Step and Dreamweaver & PHP. Upon completing the courses I have come to have a much better understanding of Dreamweaver, design ethics, the use of databases, PHP and MySQL, and the elusive CSS. I’m such a happy sausage thanks to Futuretrend and their fantastic tutors! Now I can call myself a Web Designer.

The Winner

Unanimously, the winner is Dreamweaver and I (or anyone who gets trained by Futuretrend Technologies). Soon after the courses I went out and purchased Dreamweaver CS3 with the money I saved with Futuretrend, my research showed me that I could have easily spent over £1000 through another training provider.


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