Member of the Month April 2011
Here we are again at the beginning of another month and what better way could there be to celebrate than to congratulate our newest and only Member of the Month for April 2011. This months’ prestigious award goes to [B]Dresden Phoenix[/B].
Please join me in congratulating him and thanking him for his general support and his always-interesting threads on the forums.
Now follows an interview conducted in the style of the written word.
Paul: Hi Dresden, congratulations on becoming the April 2011 member of the month and no this isn’t an April Fools joke. I know you must be completely overwhelmed by this honour but now that you have managed to catch your breath I have some in-depth questions that will soon get to the heart of what makes you tick.
First, tell us a little bit about yourself (real name if you want), what you do for a living, and how you got involved in web development, hobbies etc?
Dresden: I’m Ray Messina, a freelance graphic designer, art director, copywriter and, yes, budding front-end web developer.
I have a background in print design and only started developing for the web recently. In fact, I had avoided anything to with web design for nearly a decade because, back in college, I was advised by a professor NOT to take up HTML! He felt the internet was just a fad and the real money would be in developing interactive CDs using Flash or better yet, Director! Looking at the table-based layouts of the day, and 56k band-widths, I agreed and pursued print design exclusively until 2004, when a friend asked me to serve as an aesthetic advisor (read: making PSD mockups and the occasional Flash layout) for his web startup. Flash forward four years, and I overheard a couple of the coders discussing table layout vs divs (CSS) and my curiosity for code begun.
IF I have spare time, I enjoy good beer, reading, dancing, photography, visiting art galleries and making mix-CDs.
I am also working on a novel. More like I’m doing a Brian Griffin, it seems, but I swear I intend to finish it some day.
Paul: I’m always impressed with your meticulous questions in the forums and exacting requirements when you post a query or a problem that you have solved or want solving. The threads are always interesting and cause quite a lot of head scratching amongst our members which is a good thing. Have you always been so awkward?
Dresden: Always. I’ve been told it’s part of my charm. Really though, I ask my questions in the hopes of understanding the concept behind the solution so that I may be able to be self reliant and perhaps contribute my own solutions in a similar manner in the future.
Paul: There is a lot of debate about html5 these days and it seems to be a bit like marmite - you either hate it or your love it. What are your thoughts and where do you see this all heading?
Dresden: Wow there seem to be so many different controversies on this topic; I don’t know which ones to choose.
The WHAT!??!?!?!WG idea of a “living standard”, as opposed to a “snapshot”, model for HTML(5) reminds too much of the swine flu. Anyway, I thought WHATWG and the W3C existed for the purpose of defining what was expected of a UA. Thus we have the term “non compliant” for browsers that do not. In a way, this puts pressure on all vendors to implement the same set of features, or at least try to. With an “evolving” standard… there is no true guide for vendors to follow.
My chief concern with that is that, right now, we only have to deal with just two types of UAs: “the good browsers” and IE. It is difficult to imagine a project that is only partially successful on ALL of the UAs available currently. You develop in the good browsers, and then tweak for IE (and generally this is just CSS, anyway). But what if the mark up standard changed nightly or vendors were merely left to their own whims? HTML-whatever implementation could vary so greatly between UAs that you could possibly end up having to deal projects that require hack-fixes for every single UA. How is that for alarmist?
I am excited about HTML5’s new elements and APIs, but I also have my usual concerns about backwards compatibly or having to add a plethora of work arounds to support non-bleeding edge browsers. Time will, of course, solve all that. I am going to admit that the argument over syntax just plains baffles me at the moment. Aside from all that, I thought the W3C did a nice job on the logo.
Paul: CSS3 has some great stuff but do you think we should deploying it in working sites now?
Dresden: I’d say yes, some of it.
I look forward to, but refrain from, using flexible-box model properties, for example. I believe a site should look consistent, though not necessarily exactly the same, across all browsers. If you can make your mark up more semantically pure, while at the same time embellishing a site without destroying the basic layout or hindering accessibility by using CSS3, why not take advantage of it? CSS3 is the biggest reason for employing a progressive enhancement strategy when designing a site.
It is not unreasonable to be satisfied that your site looks a little more “vintage” in a vintage browser from the beginning of the last decade, especially if .js is disabled.
For the same token, why not take advantage of CSS3 to make your pages look more modern in “modern” browsers? I use CSS3 now, but use it sparingly, carefully and deliberately in order to add a “shine” to the base construction and use less markup for the sake of presentation. I will say that vendor suffixes are really useful to that end.
As it stands, CSS3 holds much promise for implementing “complex” designs to sites while simultaneously simplifying markup. I still hold back on deploying new selectors (or at least I supplement them with redundant classes to support older browsers), but I look forward to the day when I won’t have to fight the temptation to use multiple background images or use [ATTR] selectors and structural pseudo classes to create my layouts as opposed to merely embellishing them.
Paul:The following are some general questions that we ask everyone and help us to see where we (SitePoint) are going wrong or going right:
How did you find out about SitePoint and what made you want to join and stay around?
Dresden: I found Site Point on a google search, back when I was just starting to experiment with CSS and trying desperately to find some resource to help me make sense of the code. I lurked for a couple months before I became a member and asked my first question. Back then, my CSS naiveté had no limits and I was baffled by things that, thanks to the help and patience of other forum members, are nearly second nature to me now. In a way, that also answers why I stuck around.
Site Point Forums members have a great sense of community and camaraderie. There is a general feeling of interest and helpfulness in the Site Point forums, even when the discussion gets heated or the question exhibits particular noobiness (I suppose I should credit alert moderators too). It is an aspect of Site Point that is just as valuable as its being a repository for web-geek knowledge and one that makes me want to become as helpful to others as others here have been to me.
Paul: Which areas of SitePoint do you visit most and why?
Paul: Is there anything you’d change about SitePoint or anything you’d like to see improved?
Dresden: It’s bound to step on some toes, but it would be nice to have a dedicated Popular CMS forum ( that’s what I am calling it). Covering function specific stuff for CMSsssssssss like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, etc.
Paul: And now some blatant trivia for no other reason than that was some space at the bottom here:
Favourite Film: The Matrix, Zombieland, Nightmare Before Xmas (am a big Tim Burton fan)
Favourite Book: Veronika Decides to Die by Paolo Coelho, Pattern Recognition by William Gibson, A Clokwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, Let The Right One In by John A. Lindqvist, I Am Legend by Richard Matheson, Insect Dreams by Mac Estrin, Mr. B. Gone by Clive Barker, Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill, Good Omens by Terry Pratchet, John Dies At The End by David Wong… obviously I can’t pick just one favorite book.
Favourite Song: Consequence by The Notwist, Swampthing by The Cameleons UK, She’s My Ride Home by Blue October, Ceremony by Joy Division, Homeboy by Adorable, React by ThouShaltNot, Fly by The B0lsh0i, Remember Me as a Time of Day by Explosions in the Sky, I Hope Your Heart Runs Empty by Never Ending White Lights, Vapour Trails by Ride, Dog End Of A Day Gone By by Love And Rockets… Quite a few others, I guess I can’t or just one favorite song either.
Favourite Web Personality: I would have to credit Eric Meyer, A List Apart’s Jeff Zeldman, CSS Zen Garden’s Dave Shea, and Andy Clarke (thanks to whom I still roll around town converting things I see into semantic mark-up in my head) for my interest in CSS and modern web design. There are also several Site Point forums members to whom I feel I owe much of my development (pun) as a web-designer. I guess I too stand on the shoulders of giants.
Paul: Thanks for taking part in the interview and congratulations on winning this award (it’s not transferable so don’t try to sell it on).
Before you go is there something that you would like to shamelessly promote or share with us?
Dresden: Actually Paul, since I got this opportunity, I would share the link I found. Its the solution to all IE related headaches… with just three lines of code[B]!!
[/B](link removed by moderator)
Paul: Sorry we don’t allow links of that kind.
Anything else you have to say before you go?
Just that I am flattered to have been picked. I want to thank everyone and I hope I will be able to contribute to the community as least as much as it has contributed to my own growth as a web designer/developer.
Paul: Well that winds us the April MOTM interview and all that remains is for everyone to join below in congratulating Ray.