This is the celebrated journal of Mr. Simon Collison A.K.A Colly

Two books for Dvorak

8th August 2006

DVORAK / acronym:
Dismiss Vitriolically Opposing Reason And Knowledge.

Jeff, Dan, Ian and I are a little late here, but we have only just finished formulating our gift to John C. Dvorak.

His controversial rant (Why CSS Bugs Me) worked well for him, it being like the proverbial red rag to us CSS bulls, resulting in a squillion incoming links and thus keeping the trillions of PC Mag advertisers happy. Already, John Allsop, Eric, Malarkey and many more have alerted Mr. Dvorak to his ignorance - and Molly is even offering him free CSS lessons.

So, here’s our deal. I am going to send him a copy of Beginning CSS Web Development, and Jeff, Dan and I will be sending him a copy of the follow-up - Pro CSS Techniques once that arrives.

It is clear that our villain has picked up the shitty end of the web standards stick, so it seems only fair that we invite him to clean his hands and reach for the warm, fuzzy end. Given the opportunity, anyone can learn to create websites quickly and efficiently with CSS, and he is no exception. We look forward to receiving your postal address, Mr. Dvorak.


# Nate K responded on 8th August 2006 with...

excellent. He better take up on some of these options!

# franky responded on 8th August 2006 with...

I think I’ll start ranting about CSS too if that brings that many books ;)

# Steve responded on 8th August 2006 with...

A few months or so ago in describing his approach to writing his column Dvorak essentially admitted that he was more of an entertainer than a serious journalist. It really is his intent to go chumming in order to get as many involved in that “entertainment” as possible. I’m not sure why so many people pay attention to him anymore—must be some sort of techno Jerry Springer type thing(???)

# Guy Roberts responded on 9th August 2006 with...

CSS takes too long to learn.  Certainly it all makes sense when you have put your time in,  but there must be a quicker way.

I mean why do I have to buy so many chuffing books?  (Your’s was useful by the way)

Future presentation solutions will be built on top of CSS, but will follow Ruby On Rail’s maxim,  Convention over Configuration.  In other words templated pages that hide the complexity of CSS,sort of like recipes.

You never know, you could write a book about it.

Guy Roberts,
West Bridgford.

# Nick Toye responded on 10th August 2006 with...

@Guy,  What on earth are you talking about?  CSS takes too long to learn, how long did you expect to learn a language in?  It’s not The Matrix!

Personally, if a web developer or so called PC Mag evangelist tells me that tables are better than CSS, i’ll probably not be able to answer him/her because I would have switched off after 5 minutes.

Do they know you can style a table with CSS?  Maybe that would be too confusing.

# Guy Roberts responded on 10th August 2006 with...

Laziness is a virtue, and I don’t want to spend any more time learning a language than I have to.  CSS is a means to an end rather than an end in itself.

I use CSS/HTML/javascript every day and can make it work, but look how labour intensive it is!  It should be easier!

We have to read articles just to find the coolest way to get bloody round corners on divs.  I need to know all manner of hacks, techniques and work arounds. And IE 7 is looking like more of the same.

I have a garden to water, kids to entertain and a glider to fly!

Dvorak, whatever his motives, has touched a nerve.

# Nick Toye responded on 10th August 2006 with...

I think you will find that many programming languages are not that straightforward.  Otherwise web developers wouldn’t be specialised.

If you think CSS is labour intensive then maybe your thinking about it all wrong. 



# Darren Nicholls responded on 10th August 2006 with...

Dear oh dear! I started to read Dvorak’s article and got to: ‘when will someone wake up and figure out that none of this stuff works at all?!’ Well that’s about as much as I read.

Like other programming languages you can get the basics of CSS pretty easily but to do more with it there is a steep learning curve (well there was/is for me!), hence all these great blogs and books we subscribe to/buy. Yes, CSS isn’t easy but then neither is fixing a car!

# Nick Toye responded on 10th August 2006 with...

Absolutely right.  It is a steep learning curve, but its an enjoyable one I find.  If it becomes a chore, or labour intensive, then maybe a new vocation should be chosen.

How many of us actually trained to be web designers at school?  I didn’t, I wanted to be a lawyer, I only did a week of it at Uni.  I would say at the moment it is a new vocation that is at a stage of innovation.  In 20 years children may start learning CSS Selectors as part of the curriculum?  By then we should be relatively bug free but only if IE sorts itself out.

# Darren Nicholls responded on 10th August 2006 with...

Exactly! if you don’t like it then don’t do it! I remember looking at C++ once that was enough for me!

There are some enjoyable moments when trying to find a suitable fix, if there were no problems/headaches/moments of genius then it would be a boring industry to work in!

# Nick Toye responded on 10th August 2006 with...

At the moment I’m enjoying using some advanced techniques like attribute selectors.  Even though IE doesn’t like them, it doesn’t mean I can’t use them for the 70% of my audience who are on more compliant browsers.

So is it more about IE that doesn’t work rather than CSS?

# Guy Roberts responded on 10th August 2006 with...

To put my gripe in context; I come from a programming background and currently use Java, Struts, JSPs, JSF, taglibs,
HTML, CSS, javascript, DOM, Ajax, SQL, Oracle, PLSQL, MySQL, Ruby, Ruby On Rails, Ant, JUnit, xslt, XML,  UML,  Apache, Spring and Hibernate.

Its hard to avoid looking for simpler tools and methods. 

After recently converting a Java based web site to a

Ruby on Rails version (log in as tom/tom)I just want the presentation side of things to get simpler too.

# Nick Toye responded on 10th August 2006 with...

Well I think it is.

CSS was developed for designers in mind.

# Simon Collison responded on 11th August 2006 with...

Steve: So Dvorak thinks of himself as an entertainer eh? Maybe he should take the stage at SXSW 07 and wow everyone with his views. That should go down well. He could wear an amusing hat too, or do balloon animals afterwards…

Guy / Nick: Sheesh, guys - go get a forum! Joke. You are most welcome to chat here. I think Nick has a point - most people struggle with CSS because of IE, specifically having to rethink and adjust with hacks, filters and workarounds for that browser.

Darren: I have to agree that the problem-solving part of CSS design is something I enjoy. Not when it holds me up and makes me swear, but when I beat the problem with a cool fix or workaround - especially as I don’t use hacks or filters. I haven’t used the box model hack for two years.

# Nick Toye responded on 11th August 2006 with...

Well IE does make me think sometimes that I wish the lottery would just come in and I can find myself an island.

But hey until that day, i’ll just keep smiling in the padded cell.

# Guy Roberts responded on 11th August 2006 with...

> Sheesh, guys - go get a forum!


You have provided a valuable social service letting an old git spout off for a while.

Now I’ll get back to the CSS lore books.

# Nick Toye responded on 12th August 2006 with...

ha ha,

just remember CSS is cool, its the healthy alternative to smoking behind the bike sheds.

# asdasd responded on 20th August 2006 with...


# Robert Ramsay responded on 6th September 2006 with...

I’m glad I’m not alone. I used to read Dvorak’s column and think “am I the only one who thinks this guy is an idiot?”

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