Amber Weinberg: Freelance Web Developer specializing in semantic WordPress, Mobile, CSS and HTML5 Development

The Blog

Overcoming The Fear of HTML5, CSS3 & New Things

Posted on 07/14/10 in blog, development about , , , ,

I’ll let you in on a little secret – I’m afraid of learning and using HTML5. And you know what? I bet you are too.

Why would a professional developer be afraid of a much needed upgrade to her favorite language? It seems that fear of the unknown is common among humans and none of us ever like change. Change is scary. Change is bad.

The Development World Is Changing

But then I remembered that eight months ago, I was afraid of letting IE6 go. I was afraid that if I stopped packaging IE6 as a browser I natively supported, that I would lose business. No one would come to me for web development. but I knew the choice I was making was the right one. IE6 usage is not common anymore. We spend too much time developing for it, and continued dev support would only prolong the life of the browser. It was time to move on.

Then around 5 months ago, I was afraid of learning CSS3. Just looking at some of the new features was proof enough that CSS3 was very different from CSS2. There were tons of new selectors to learn, new graphical effects to memorize and practice with. Plus, although most of the main browsers supported the main CSS3 features, you were (and are) forced to learn browser prefixes. Not fun.

But I’ve been using CSS3 regularly now, and what has it done? It’s sped up my development time. It means less slicing, less divs and cleaner, leaner, quicker development.

I find it funny when people tell me that they “don’t want to use CSS3 because IE doesn’t support it”. But you know what? No one notices that rounded corners or shadows are missing from my websites in IE. Basically, no one who would use IE would care anyways. I think these developers are just scared to use something new. Of course, if the rounded corner or effect was pivotal to the design, then sure, use images. Otherwise, what’s the point?

I’m really in love with progressive enhancement, you know?

The Price of Standing Still

Of course we don’t have to learn CSS3 or HTML5 or any other “new” thing in the web development world. You know, there are still developers out there coding unsemantically, with 100 validation errors per page and in tables. Who needs CSS, right? I remember when CSS first came out, developers thought it was going to be a fad! Now look at us.

You don’t have to learn anything new than what you know right now to make some money. But if you want to be anything more than mediocre in the web world, you need to keep up. And keep up daily.

The web changes everyday, which is why it’s important to follow several different blogs, news sources and social media sites. You should always have several books on hand to read from. You should always read about areas related to your field. If you’re a web developer that means design, marketing and UX. Learning from these different mediums will fundamentally change the way you structure and layout your code. It also helps you to understand the web in general. Believe me, you can certainly tell the difference between the developer who only pays attention to code, and the one is who pays attention to everything.

Starting Something New

So what do we do now that we’re ready to start learning? Take a deep breath, relax and start slow. Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither was HTML5.

The way I learned CSS3 was to start with something simple – say the rounded corners. I tried that, learned it as well as I could. Then I tried text-shadows, then some advanced selectors, then some box-shadows. Pretty soon, I was using almost everything regularly, and know the spec of CSS3 well.

That’s how I’m going to start HTML5. My HTML5 for Web Designers book FINALLY came in and it’s pretty small. As soon as I finish reading and reviewing this other web dev book, I’ll be starting this one (and a review to come I promise!). Then I might use it on a site or two (I’m ¬†honestly in love with XHTML though).

Your Thoughts

How do you approach the “new” in the web world? With anticipation? Apprehension? How do you get over your fear?

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Amber Weinberg specializes in clean and semantic HTML5, CSS3, responsive and WordPress development. She has over 15 years of coding experience and is super cool to work with. Amber is available for freelance work, so why not hire her for your next project?

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