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Posts Tagged ‘CSS’

4 Free DIY Coding Tutorials for the Online Journalist

These days, proficiency in computer science and online coding is just as essential to a journalist’s education as writing, reporting and editing. As our world continues to blur platform lines, knowing programming languages is the easiest way to gain an edge to secure your dream job, take on more responsibilities and become an indispensable tool in the newsroom.

But, there’s one overarching problem when a journalist gets psyched up to code: tutorials and books are often filled with codes and jargon that natively go against the way a humanities mind works. Getting into the material can be difficult, and sticking with it until code mastery can be nearly impossible.

Luckily, in an effort to get people of all ages and backgrounds into online programming, many companies have put together smart, interactive tutorials that explain methods in clear and easy ways. Some of them rely on a story or concept to drive the knowledge across, while others use reward systems and badges to motivate users to sticking with it.

Here are four free, interactive tutorials that you can do at your own pace that will help you learn four coding languages that have rapidly become must-knows in the world of online production and development. All of these courses assume users are complete beginners, so jump in! Read more

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Is Learning HTML/CSS ‘Like Learning How to Use Commas’?

How important is it for journalists to know HTML/CSS? How about for journalism students, who will be entering a job market with more digital and fewer traditional job choices? This point has been discussed and debated to death. We’ve talked about it and covered sites and organizations that aim to help teach journalists to program.

But reading a recent post by University of Florida professor Mindy McAdams, it occurred to me how these skills have increasingly become expectations for job-hunting journalists. It’s not been enough for a long time to be a writer or a photographer, you need to be very good at something and at least good enough at others to be competitive in a world where writer’s send standups back from crime scenes and photographers produce slideshows, with intros and captions on the fly. But HTML? CSS? Javascript?

Her post is primarily aimed at journalism educators and why they should learn and teach HTML and CSS so their students are better equipped. But it’s beneficial to all journalists. She writes:

The system we use to present information on Web pages begins with HTML, a markup language that structures the content of the page.

I’m starting with HTML because I know a heck of a lot of journalism educators have never tried to learn HTML, and that’s just wrong. You know how to use a comma? Good, I would expect that. The basic use of HTML is just as important as correct use of commas, and it’s certainly not harder to learn.

The web is littered with comma splices, so certainly not everyone learned that skill. Nor will everyone be willing to learn HTML and CSS. (I say willing because I agree with Mindy that’s they’re very learnable. I taught myself starting when I was 10.) But she’s right, if a journalist wants to be competitive, to place themselves in the best position to land and keep a job, to have the best and most opportunities open to them, they’re going to want to know the basics or be willing to learn.
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Learn To Code Today with Google Code University

Google Code logo

Journalists, what are some of your New Year’s resolutions? If one of them happens to be “learn to code”, then search engine titan Google has you covered with Google Code University.

There are many reasons that journalists should learn how to code. Like we’ve stated before here on 10,000 Words, coding skills are an essential part of working in a new media environment. A knowledge of HTML, CSS and JavaScript gives you the tools you need to create your own website, and can make you a valuable resource for any news organization. Not only that, several journalism fellowships and trainee programs are looking for journalists with programming knowledge. You can have the skills to apply for an opportunity to receive funding for your own cutting edge journalism projects.

Google Code University (GCU) does not require any registration, and materials are free to use. In Web Programming, for example, there are lectures, videos, and contributed course content to teach users how to create interactive web applications that go beyond your basic static web page.

Here are just a few of the courses GCU offers:

  • Python
  • C++
  • Java
  • CSS, HTML and JavaScript
  • HTML5
  • Web Security
  • Algorithms
  • Android Application Development
  • Introduction to Databases and MySQL

Computer science educators are also welcome to submit their own coursework for inclusion within GCU. All courses will be placed under a Creative Commons license which will allow for people to reuse and modify the courses for their own curriculum as necessary. And if you’re looking for more curriculum to peruse or get stuck on a particular term, GCU also includes a search feature via Google Directory that includes lectures, assignments, papers and videos from schools like Harvard University, Duke University, and Carnegie Mellon University.

GCU is a part of Google Code’s education resources, which also include Google DocType and the popular HTML5 Rocks website. To get started today, visit http://code.google.com/edu.

A Tribute To Text Editors

This is not a post about the fancy tools we often write about here.

Instead, we’re getting back to basics. This post is a tribute to one of the most basic tools that all online journalists use: the text editor.

Text editors range from the basic (Notepad on PCs and TextEdit on Macs) to the fancy (TextMate on Macs), and we continue to use them for their simplicity and their ability to give us cleaner markup than any WYSIWYG editor.

There’s something relaxing about typing in raw HTML code. Plus, it’s a lot faster than pointing and clicking to style that text or to add links.

So, here are a few of my favorite text editors.

Mac: TextMate ($57, free 30 day trial)

I hate to use this space to plug software that’s a relatively expensive $57, but seriously, it’s that worth it. TextMate supports more than 50 different programming languages (with the ability for more by using so-called bundles). It also features auto-indent, auto-complete, visual bookmarks and tons more.

I’ve used TextMate for about three years, and couldn’t be happier. Another great option for Macs that’s free: TextWrangler.

PC: Notepad++ (free)

What is there not to like about Notepad++? It’s a full-featured, open source text editor. It’s a pleasure to use at work, where I have a PC.

Like TextMate, it has support for many different programming languages. It also supports macros, and it integrates with FTP clients. Lots of third party plugins are supported as well.

The best part? It’s free!

Web-based: Real-time HTML Editor (free)

This no-frills, Web-based HTML editor doesn’t have fancy colors, auto-indent or any other fancy features. But it’s simple, platform independent and fast. Most importantly, it offers a live preview. This text editor is a favorite of co-workers at my day job, especially when we’re editing our site’s homepage. The live preview allows for quick troubleshooting. Be warned: it’s not designed to integrate with a site’s CSS stylesheet, so you’ll need a fancier text editor if that’s what you’re looking for. However, it does interpret in-line CSS.

There you have it, my three favorite text editors. Never underestimate how important a good text editor is, and always try to avoid making live changes in a WYSIWYG view!