[thelist] OT - do programmers/designers know *everything*?

Mark Gallagher mark at cyberfuddle.com
Wed Jul 24 11:31:01 CDT 2002

Roger Harness wrote:
> List folks...i've been wondering about this for a while, and have always
> been too embarassed/worried to ask. But it's getting to a point where I
> think I *need* to ask.
> I'm a 'struggling' web designer/developer/programmer. I know quite a bit
> about HTML, and a little about everything else. (in some cases, VERY
> little). I'm working retail to pay the bills, and honestly, I only have a
> few actual *paying* web jobs. (and that's even sorta debatable).

Nothing wrong with that.  Well, *you* might disagree (cos it means you
have to work retail :-)), but what I mean is there's nothing to be
ashamed of there.

Personally, I'm a year 12 student who has a casual job officiating
sports.  So although I do a lot of web design, most of it either is for
myself, for others for free, or for very little money (AU$50-$100).  So
I'm not a professional by any means :-).  However, I have (or at least
think I have) been at it for years, and have quite a bit of
experience[0].  So I hope you don't mind me answering as well :-)

<snip />

> 2. For the folks that ARE doing well enough to not have to work a 'real' job
> (you know...as in retail, services...etc etc,...anything NOT to do with
> their web passions)...do you folks actually know in your head most of the
> skills you need to perform? For example, PERL/CGI programmers...can you
> actually, basically write working code that without having to rely on your
> notes, code snippets, manuals, etc? Or is that just silly? Do almost ALL
> hardcore designers/programmers use some sort of 'help' when working on
> projects?

I know (X)HTML off by heart, and it's only if I'm doing things like
really complicated forms that I just have to check, for example, the
references at allmyfaqs.com or htmlhelp.com.  CSS almost as well.

I don't "do" Perl, but PHP and JavaScript I find myself looking up
various references for anything 'cept the most basic stuff (anything
that doesn't have a direct equivalent in C, I often have to look up).

> Does that question even make sense? Personally, I get a little nervous that
> maybe I don't really have the "stuff" to make it in this business, as I
> really can't even do a basic JavaScript roll-over script without referring
> to either my books, or at least previous work. And while I DO seem to be

After a time, you'll get used to it.  You won't even realise it, but if
you read your old scripts/books every time you do a new rollover, you'll
eventually absorb how to do it, and realise you don't *need* to look it
up any more.  Eventually, this'll happen more and more often with more
and more different scripts.  You won't be able to keep a full library of
Perl, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, ASP, C++, Java, and Python in your
head, and you'd be mad to try :-), but you'll find it gets easier to do
the most common tasks off the top of your head with practice.  If it
hasn't become possible yet, don't worry - it's not worth stressing over.
  I swear!

> getting a handle on mysql-PERL stuff, I couldn't put a working web-based
> database together from the top of my head, if my life depended on it. Ya
> know?

A full-on database is a *little* hard to do off the top of your head,
sometimes :-).  Once you've spent a year or two at it, you'll find it
gets better.

[0] Hire me.  You know you want to.  <cough />

Mark Gallagher

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