Mar. 24th, 2013

carene_waterman: An image of the Carina Nebula (Default)
I bloodied my nose pretty hard on the Functional Programming chapter in Eloquent JavaScript. I went back a few days later and got through the first half okay and hit a wall again.

While I wait for a time stretch long enough and quiet enough to give it another go, I thought I'd go back to Codecademy and get some instant gratification (and frustration).

I tested out the HTML and CSS tracks to see if they were worth recommending and I'd give a heavily qualified meh as a rating.

I found these lessons the buggiest of all, and any exercise that uses a height or font size property requires you to have no minimum font size set in your browser and to be viewing at the un-zoomed size. Um, yeah, no.

If that's not a deal breaker for you, be aware that they were written when the submit and results display were obviously functioning differently (and submit was called run). I found you had to click things in the right order, hit submit multiple times, and occasionally save the code and refresh the page to get the lesson to validate. You get a lot of false negative results claiming your code doesn't work. They are working on their UI so this is likely to improve.

But this does dynamically teach you HTML and then integrates CSS into what you know--and then adds in JS and jQuery in some off-track projects.

That part is great and pretty much impossible to find (free) anywhere else.

I didn't like the way they showed examples of bad semantics in early lessons or the way they introduced styling with inline html styles first. (Although for DW users wanting to know how to style things in a post, this isn't useless info.) They don't put any emphasis on best practices and never utter the words web standards.

Some of the lessons link to W3Schools for reference docs, which is appalling, and they're aimed at a very young audience.

Still, it's interactive, you instantly know what things do and you get to experiment.

I skipped over to the jQuery track, which assumes you don't know JS, but doesn't tell you that on the main page. I would have done it sooner, had I known, but also I think that's the wrong order.

Don't learn jQuery without at least a 101 understanding of JS. Don't be one of those people who can do all kinds of cool shit with jQuery but are baffled by the simplest native JS statements and don't know anything about how JS uses the DOM API. You won't be able to debug anything that goes deeper than how you wrote the jQuery.

That said, OMG is jQuery easy to learn. It is so intuitive to anyone familiar with HTML and css, it barely needs explaining beyond the syntax.

I also found the Codecademy jQuery track the best written I've done so far. It's not too twee and it's less about testing how carefully you read the riddle instructions and how well you can copy and paste (the JS track) and more about learning through repetition and building of skills.

It is buggy--I had to make sure my cursor was at the bottom of the code in the .js tab, and then I had to hit results, do the user action on the results tab and hit submit several times for almost every exercise.

If you like text based instruction, with example code, but no exercises, nothing beats Shay Howe's HTML and CSS guide (The beginners guide is available at the same site.) He teaches the two things side-by-side, as they really should be.


carene_waterman: An image of the Carina Nebula (Default)

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