About This Site

With all the good website building tools available, many of them free, knowing how to write HTML and CSS "by hand" is a little like learning how the telephone switching system works when all you wanted to do was make a phone call—you don't really need to know it in order to get the job done. Nevertheless, as a former software engineer and aspiring web developer I took it as a personal challenge to conquer them. I've written a lot of HTML, but CSS seems to be one of those things that, if you're not using it every day, you'll lose it. It's not so much the punctuation and syntax—I have books and cheat sheets for that—the real challenge is positioning the elements of a website and having it look right in both Firefox and Internet Explorer.

After several false starts, I settled on the table-less layout you see here. All of the page elements—header, navigation, content, and footer—are enclosed in one or more <div>s which are positioned using the float property. The layout assumes a monitor with a resolution of 1024x768, and is best viewed in full-screen mode. Tables are used in some of the content sections—Courses Taken and Core Competencies—where tables are appropriate.

The header, footer, and navigation bar are the same on every page; only the content changes. This is accomplished with the PHP include function. PHP is a server-side application, so it is not possible to view this site offline by simply opening the index.php file in a browser, unless the files have been copied to a computer running a "localhost" with PHP support. Otherwise, the files must first be copied to a web server that supports PHP, such as southernct.edu, and viewed from there.

The code for this website was written using Notepad++, a text editor that supports syntax highlighting in HTML, CSS, PHP, and a number of other client and server-side programming languages. I use FileZilla to upload files to my web host using FTP (file transfer protocol). Both applications are open source software distributed free of charge under the terms of the GNU General Public License. I learned many of my HTML and CSS skills at W3Schools using their "Try It Yourself" tool. Sams Teach Yourself CSS in 10 Minutes, by Russ Weakly, and O'Reilly's CSS Pocket Reference, by Eric Meyer, have been invaluable resources.

I used Color Wheel from GeckoTribe to select a pleasing color scheme. The writing woman is a public domain image that I scanned from a book of books-and-reading themed clip art and used as my logo when I was doing calligraphy for hire several years ago. I used the "magic wand" tool in Adobe Photoshop to move her to a transparent background.

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