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Venting some CSS frustration February 17, 2007

Posted by McStorian in Uncategorized.
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I know it’s been almost 2 weeks since our last class meeting, but I didn’t think CSS was going to be such a pain in the posterior. I’ve been working on the writing project assignment and can’t seem to figure out what I’m doing wrong. The CSS and XHTML that we wrote in class last time seems to simple, and yet it works. Me, well I must just be simple, because my page’s behavoir is incomprehensible. I don’t know how the rest of you feel, but basically I’ve gotten to the point to where I can work on it for a few hours, then by that time I’ve gotten so frustrated that I have to quit for a while. When I eventually come back to it, I can usually make a few minor improvements before all hell breaks loose again. I think maybe I’m trying to accomplish more than my skills can yet allow. Anyway, back to drawing board for now.

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1. Mark Stevens - February 18, 2007

I hear your frustrations man and I definitely reach (obscure reference to original Star Trek episode). I have found that after a time of programming I get muddle-headed, and must step away. Often it takes my wife to sagely suggest this, because I ALWAYS want to find the solution to what I can’t understand right then and there. You may want to consider the lynda.com tutorials. I have not yet used the Dreamweaver ones, but the Photoshop ones are excellent and flexible. Also, the Stylin book gave me a basic understanding from which to move.

2. Chris - February 19, 2007

Hang in there, James. I found this tutorial immensely helpful since it takes content completely out of the pictures and has you working with colored boxes (different color for each different !). It really put the simplicity factor into focus. That said, I’m like Mark– I want to figure out a solution long after I should have put it away for a little while.

Remember what Donald Norman said about stress and anxiety and how it affects creativity: people under stress “tend to narrow their thought processes, concentrating upon aspects directly relevant to a problem.” Just when you need to look for an alternative approach, you are focused in on the little details of what’s not working! I try to keep this in mind when I’m hammering my head against that wall!

3. tad - February 20, 2007

I actually find that I have the opposite issue– I need large chunks of uninterupted time to actually get things to work. For me, I think this is a result of having a bit of the ADD, and needing to be able to hyper-concentrate. It takes me a couple hours to get into this mode, and then I get sucked in, and only look up from the work in order to a) skip a song on iTunes, or b) take my once-every-45-minutes smoke break.

The smoke breaks might be something you should try– not that I’m endorsing smoking, it’s a filthy habit, unhealthy, and everything else– but finding something that’s relaxing, that takes you physically away from your work, and that is limited in duration (it only lasts five to ten minutes… playing Solitaire on your computer or flipping on the TV don’t work because you can do them for AGES…) might be a good strategy for keeping “into” the work.

Oh– and one other thought, one that I actually wish I’d learned a bit earlier, like last semester. Validating your XHTML and CSS is good. Do it before you’re “done.” Sometimes, when things get wonky, just fixing the code to be standards-complient fixes the problem you were vexed by when staring at lines of code.

(Not to mention that doing it a few times makes that last, labor-intensive and reward-poor step a lot quicker and easier.)

4. Jennifer Levasseur - February 20, 2007

James: you, like Maureen and a few others I’ve seen post frustrations in blogs, make me want to just pitch in and try to help you guys dig out from this! For the most part, I think I ‘get’ CSS and XHTML, but my way of organizing things makes the whole process logical for me somehow. Trust me, there are plenty of groans that come from my kitchen as I try to get little things to work out, and I spent enough time of my type assignment with my in-laws around on Sunday to nearly wind up in divorce court! With some of the little tricks like quotes and whatnot, I found just Google-ing something like ‘pull quotes in web design’ pretty useful. People who think seriously about this often post comments about how to do things, or even if you can find a site you like or think has a good clean design, you can just view their code and borrow some of the tricks. It’s getting over that basic ‘making it work’ stage that can be tough. So, just give a holler if you need a hand getting through the rough patches.

5. Marty - February 27, 2007

James,

I too, have had major issues. I spent hours on my css and html – and although I didn’t present the mess I had to the class last week, I shudder to think of the reacction tonight.
One thing that is still eluding me is the footnotes – I got the little popup window to work once, but now it doesn’t. Maybe I was dreaming?????

The only way I found to approach this was to completely scrap my earlier efforts and start over. I was trying to figure out how the background color had covered my entire page. In trying to fix it I typed so much html and css into the computer I think I confused it. The besst advice I’ve gotten this semester (other than using GoDaddy!!) was when Laura told me to not try and do so much and to start with a simple template (I used one from McFly) and build from that.


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