Bow and Step on the Tatami

In this dojo we will be covering a lot of basics. A solid foundation is the only true way to achieve mastery. I do expect that you already know how to turn on your computer, launch a browser, use some kind of basic text editor (the Notepad application which comes standard with Windows will do just fine to get you started) and have access to some kind of graphics editing software, like Adobe Photoshop, GimpShop (a free Windows version is available for download on this page) or any other similar tool.

Here is what you need to get started:

  • A computer with at least 1 monitor set to the highest resolution possible. The more monitors you have, the better. I have 2 but I wish I had 6.
  • Any latest browser, preferably two browsers: Internet Explorer 7 and Mozilla or Firefox
  • If you want to get your black belt faster, I suggest installing Firefox with the latest "Web Developer" Add-On. Install the Firefox browser first, then the Add-on. To install the Web Developer Add-on go here and click the install button. While you are at it, I would strongly recommend browsing through other Firefox Web Development Add-ons. You can start your search here
  • You will also need a basic text editor. The Notepad application that comes with Windows will do just fine for starters (do not use Wordpad!). I would strongly recommend switching to a more sophisticated editor as soon as possible. I've been using Crimson Editor for many years. It is very free and very awesome! A perfect ninja weapon. You can also download a few editors in the form of Firefox web development add-ons. I'll leave it up to you to do the research
  • You will eventually need to upload your files to the web, so you will require some kind of FTP program. Once again, Firefox to the rescue. You can install the FireFTP Add-on or use any other FTP program of your choice. FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol, by the way, and it is already built into Windows, as long as you know how to access it. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, don't worry - just get FireFTP. But you don't need it for your first few lessons.
  • This last item you won't need right away, but it's good to start thinking about it. I'm talking about your very own training place where you can hone your deadly skills. Yes, my friend, you will eventually need a server to store and display your work.

I strongly advise against "free" web hosting services. Why? because what they offer is beneath a true ninja warrior. You can start by getting cheaper accounts with these providers:

Eventually you can upgrade to professional-grade providers, if you want to.

You are now ready for your first lesson. Open your mind, take off your shoes and step into the Web Dojo!

The Ancient Scrolls of Wisdom

There are many philosophies about the ultimate purpose of web design, what is the best way to do it, which tools to use, etc. But any web ninja will tell you, it's all about figuring out what the client wants, finding the fastest way to get it done without sacrificing quality and getting paid at the end of it all. Actually getting paid in advance is a smarter tactic, as some clients are ninjas too - they vanish as soon as you deliver the goods.

Lets start with some conventions and theory.

During your career you will be creating files. In fact, you will be creating thousands of files - I expect nothing less from a student of the Web Dojo.

A file is valuable because of the information in it. But to us, the filename itself is just as important.

Pay attention! If you follow these suggestions, you will avoid the humiliation of defeat and won't have to spend hours or even days second-guessing your technique:

  • ALWAYS use small caps.
    do: darkninja.jpg
    do not: DarkNinja.JPG
  • NEVER use spaces inside a filename.
    do: dark_ninja.jpg
    do not: dark ninja.jpg
  • ALWAYS use filename.html.
    do: ninja_weapons.html
    do not: ninja_weapons.htm

If you are having trouble spotting the difference between the paired examples, you can already appreciate the significance of my advice.

There is technically nothing wrong with using the DO NOT examples. But imagine for a moment a situation where you want the user to click a link to a page called ninja_weapons.html with a dark_ninja.jpg image on it. Shouldn't be a problem. But what if you forgot about file naming conventions and uploading these files:

  • ninja weapons.htm
  • dark Ninja.jpg

instead of these:

  • ninja_weapons.html
  • dark_ninja.jpg

The files you are calling don't exist so your link won't work. Most web servers are case-sensitive and do not like blank spaces in filenames.

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Inside the Web Dojo

the HTML chamber