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W3Schools has some damage to answer for


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Hi folks, Good of you to provide this section of the forum, but looking down the list I didn't see much actual criticism. First off let me say that to the extent that you have provide some people with useful information you are to be congratulated, I know it's a big job. But having said that I have to tell you that the reason I joined as a member was to yell at you for some of the worst documentation I've seen in a long time -- and yell at you even louder for making CSS so very much harder to use and learn than it ever needed to be. I'm guessing that you have put the uptake of CSS as a standard back by several years. To provide some credibility for my accusations I should tell you that I've been in I.T. for more than 30 years and I began my career in technical documentation at Zilog in Silicon Valley - prior to that I was a student at the University of California (Santa Cruz) where I worked on the campus newspaper. The documentation failures I've seen on the W3Schools site (and there are many) can be summed up by this little gem: W3example.png from: http://www.w3schools.com/tags/ref_standardattributes.asp and I'd like to ask if there is anyone still on your staff that wants to justify this as "documentation" ? If there is, please fire them as this is not documentation it's just repetition and your web pages are full of it. My second accusation is that you have perpetuated the belief that CSS is hard, complicated, and very difficult to learn - and indeed it is the way you and many others in the field present it. I have spent far too many hours searching for intelligent material to help me get to term with CSS and in all but the most recent case, threw up my hands in frustration and disgust at the impenetrability of the material. Finally, on my own, I can to an understanding of CSS that now allows me to manipulate my web pages with a bit of confidence. You are welcome to read my story here: http://www.hazen.co.nz/14_css1/14_index.html Sorry for being so harsh, I'm sure I'll regret it later, this is many hours of needlessly wasted hours coming through. To end on a lighter note - I did offer some useful statistics that you provided on what screen resolutions people are using now. I look forward to some much improved documentation in the future, - Deck

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You were looking in the wrong section (that was critiques of user-submitted sites) so I've moved the topic to the correct place.Note that I am not a W3Schools staff member but just a moderator of the forum, however I do think that your criticism is somewhat unfounded as the section of the site linked to is clearly labelled as a reference, not exhaustive documentation or specification. References, as you would know, are for consultation during the development progress when something needs to be looked up quickly, and definitely are not supposed to be used singularly to learn a new topic. In this I am in full support of the W3Schools author's content decisions as I for one would not like to be wading through large amounts of content just to find out a small fact (you will notice, though, that the terms are hyperlinked in case one would like to investigate further).Instead, the W3Schools authors have decided that for people learning HTML, CSS and other topics they would provide a set of tutorials, which I'm not sure whether you've seen (the CSS one is here), that are meant, unlike the reference manual, as a simple and comprehensive walk-through of the features of the language, in a way that is easy for beginners to follow. This is where you will learn things like what classes are, where you should use them (with giant diagrams!), and those sort of things. Once you have mastered the basics of CSS (or whatever language), and are confident to begin creating your own sites - it is then, when you have just forgotten, say, whether you can have a title attribute on the html element, that you would use the reference. But to learn, definitely not.I am sorry that you have found the W3Schools site so difficult to use, and hope that with increased knowledge of its structure you will be able to gain more value from it in the future, but personally I view the current tutorial/reference composition as far more useful than outright technical documentation. For that, there's always the W3C specifications (such as this one for CSS) – but I find that far harder to follow.

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I've also been in IT (for less time than you are though... ~14 years), and am currently a student at that... and I had no problem learning this stuff, which I learned myself before I became a student. Now why is that? I have a few guesses, but the main reason I think is you convinced yourself things are complex when they aren't. Nowhere in the tutorial do they explicitly say stuff like "CSS is complex, but worth it", so I can only assume that's what you thought, based on the lack of them explicitly saying "CSS is simple".I never thought for a minute that things are complex. I just had to keep asking myself "What can I do armed with this knowledge from the tutorial? Can I make [layout idea] with this? Can I decomposite [layout idea] into stuff the tutorial has taught me?". The answer "Yes" would consntantly pop up, along with "It may take quite a few lines, but let's try it", and I'd surprise myself in the end seeing it's even fewer lines than I thought... and then IE6 would f@#$ things up, but that's a separate story.A few corrections in your tutorial:

the book recommends
You mention this book several times... Which book?
The "margin" defines the outline of the box.
Not true. There's a separate "outline" property for that. An "outline" is defined as a line around the box - similar to the border, but it is added "on top" of the margin (well... kind'a... I'm simplifying it), and is not part of the box model. A margin is space around a box. A "cleared" space if you use the definition on the linked page, though I wouldn't go that far (when you learn about absolute and relative positioning, you'll know why; for normal positioning, "cleared" makes sence).
The book also recommends setting the "text-align: center;" though again, I'm not sure why, but I know it works.
Just a guess as to why... to enfore you to think about the box's dimensions. With text-align:left; (the default), if you extend the box, the content will still be on the left, and you may think nothing happened when in reality it did. They had to either make you do this or make you set a different background color to every box (that's how I figured things out without a book), or make you use "* {outline:1px solid blue;}" until you get the box model, but outline is not supported by some old browsers (IE6 and IE7) and is buggy in IE8 and FF3.5-.
None of educational material on Cascading Style Sheets that I've come across has ever pointed out what I'm about to tell you now, and knowing this simple directive makes the whole technology a great deal easier:The top part of the CSS Style Sheet is for the boxes that define the page spaces, and all the definitions start with a pound sign "#", the bottom part is for the fonts and colours and the defintions start with a full stop ".".
They don't say it because that too is simply not true... or on the very least, it doesn't have to be that way, and you're saying it as if it must be.# targets an element with a certain "id" attribute, with the ID being specified right after this sign.. targets an element with a certain "class" attibute, with the class being specified right after the sign.You can mix color, font and space definitions in any ways you like - whatever makes sence for your layout. Personally, since colors are inherited, I find it much easier to declare them as part of the definition of the container, and just override them wherever I need another color.[[Another disclaimer: I'm also just a moderator on the forum, not part of W3Schools' staff. Keep in mind W3Schools doesn't have anything to do with W3C - the creators of HTML and CSS.]]
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I don't think W3Schools has to answer for any damage, as the responsibility lies completely with the user. They have a disclaimer at the bottom of the page.

W3Schools is for training only. We do not warrant the correctness of its content. The risk from using it lies entirely with the user.While using this site, you agree to have read and accepted our terms of use and privacy policy.
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Deckhazen, I don't believe for a moment you are sorry about being so harsh. This is not the first time you've visited and thrown out some ugliness.There may or may not be merit to your concerns. Others have discussed that.But I personally find your tone offensive. A thing that makes this board different from many others is that we are generally quite civil here and in most cases actually enjoy one another's online company. Other boards make a sport out of shooting people down in flames, but we do not.If you would like to make suggestions, I'm sure the owners would like to read them. But all this talk about answering for damages and firing people really has no place here. Worse, as someone your age should probably know, mudslinging generally has the opposite effect. The people you want most to connect with will be most likely to dismiss you as a crank.

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I'll just point that far more people with much less "technical" experience than yourself OP, have managed to make staggering strides in their development with the information contained within the tutorials sections of the w3schools site. I won't cite your web development experience because you seem just as confused as anyone else starting out. As anyone who has posted in this topic can attest to, I've witnessed hundreds of people come here asking for questions and help, being referenced the tutorials sections on the website, and have managed to overcome their obstacles with little to no difficulty. I think if you actually spent some time around here (not trashing it within your first few posts) you would probably find out how much more helpful the 'schools' has been to a lot of people, myself included. Now, if people came here and just got bits of pieces of the W3C specification and no clearer insight, then I would say you have a case, but Synook correctly pointed out the reason why the spec should be in one place, and easy to use references, should be in another place. Just because you've "documented" before,and worked for a newspaper, or whatever, doesn't mean you can automatically declare the documentation of something you have little experience with damaging and wasteful. Why don't you try learning it first (well, I might add), and then try coming back with some constructive criticism. And no, I wouldn't consider you're site an accurate reference, guide, etc for some of the reasons beon_robot already pointed out. Especially that one about id's vs classes.

Edited by thescientist
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I agree with @Deirdre's DadW3Schools has easy to follow documentation and reference as well as helpful tutorials. I am starting to wonder what kind of IT with 30 years of experience would start flaming crap after so many years? Aye? I am not an IT and most surely not a Programmer, but I managed to learn this things on my own with out any ones help or any high end education in University of College. So you staying that you are an IT with 30 years doesn't seem to fit the way you are acting here. I seen complete mess of documentation before. And aye the world is not perfect and it will never be no matter what you try to make of it. However flaming on such a childish and pathetic crap made my day wondering what did our world turn to with its with 30 years *of made up experience most likely* complain about something as childish.The fact is that most tutorials on W3Schools is still CSS, and if you where to start learningh CSS3 would you complain that its hard as well? If you have problem with W3Schools documentation or other things then Google is your friend, Google would prob give you some other place where you can post pathetic and meaningless ######.

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None of educational material on Cascading Style Sheets that I've come across has ever pointed out what I'm about to tell you now, and knowing this simple directive makes the whole technology a great deal easier:The top part of the CSS Style Sheet is for the boxes that define the page spaces, and all the definitions start with a pound sign "#", the bottom part is for the fonts and colours and the defintions start with a full stop ".".
They don't say it because that too is simply not true... or on the very least, it doesn't have to be that way, and you're saying it as if it must be.
This points to the possible reason why you've found CSS so complex - because you don't understand it (you think you do, but you don't). CSS is just an easy way to target multiple elements on the page to give them style attributes. The "#", ".", "*", etc are all just selectors, they target a set of zero or more elements on the page. If you write that a certain CSS rule applies to "#the_form", then you're targeting an element with an ID of "the_form". If you use ".form_left", then you're targeting any element with a class of "form_left". If you write that a rule applies to "div#main_nav ul li a.nav_link", then that rule will apply to all <a> elements that have a class of "nav_link", which are inside an <li> element, which are inside an <ul> element, which are inside a div with an ID of "main_nav". These are all just ways to tell the browser which set of elements you're writing style definitions for. It doesn't matter where they appear in the document, and it doesn't matter if they have font properties, or margins, or padding, or backgrounds, or borders, or anything. They are just element selectors. You can read about the rest of the CSS selectors here:http://www.w3schools.com/css/css_reference.aspNote that not every browser supports every selector.
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lol, @justsomeguyLets not forget about more CSS goodies such as style importing@import "somestyle.css";or.clearFix:after { content: ".";display: block;height: 0;clear: both;visibility: hidden; }or.token span.x, .token span.x_hover { background:url('images/blob_x.gif') center no-repeat; display:inline-block; sborder: 1px solid; width: 16px; height: 8px!important; cursor:pointer; vertical-align: top; padding: 0; margin: 2px 0px 0px 2px!important; *margin-top: 3px!important; /*IE 7*/ margin: 0px; /*IE 6*/}.selector_container.disabled .selector { border-color: #CACACA; background: #F7F7F7;}

>.< Removed by ColdEdge to be some what nice....
Edited by ColdEdge
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It's a fact that different people learn using different methods and at different rates, but there's no reason to be insulting here. An IT professional can spend an entire career designing and installing networks, but that doesn't mean it's going to be easy to learn a new programming or markup language. I do take issue with this statement though:

I'm guessing that you have put the uptake of CSS as a standard back by several years.
I think it's pretty ridiculous to assert something like that. Microsoft has done more to hamper CSS than any reference site ever could. It's also a little ridiculous to assume that every professional using CSS learned what they know from this site, or even that the majority have. Again, what works well for certain types of people doesn't necessarily work as well for others, and any one site can't be expected to have a series of tutorials or lessons that would appeal to all types of learners the same way.
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I've never actually looked at the whole CSS tutorial before, but I did just now. It seems pretty good. Keep in mind that by profession I am a writing teacher, so I am in fact qualified to comment on things like clarity and organization, not to mention the way information should be presented to noobs. As I said, it looks pretty clear, and the tryit examples clarify anything that might seem confusing.OTOH. I think I have mentioned elsewhere on this forum that someone hitting the school's home page for the first time might not know whether to start with a reference link or a tutorial link. Starting with a reference page could certainly be frustrating for a noob.

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The documentation failures I've seen on the W3Schools site (and there are many) can be summed up by this little gem: <<image>> from: http://www.w3schools.com/tags/ref_standardattributes.asp
Just out of curiosity, how would you rewrite this "little gem" to be more clear? It seems pretty straight-forward to me, just the way it is.
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Why bother?1. It's in the reference section. This implies that you have enough background to understand it.2. Each item is clearly linked to a more expansive explanation.3. If that's still not enough, hit the tutorial.

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The problem with things like that, which I generally agree with, is that they're sort of self-referencing. For example, it defines the class attribute as being a "classname", with the description being that it "specifies a classname" (which should already be obvious). What it's missing is the definition of a "classname", so in that case it would be clearer if it linked to the CSS tutorial on class names (or even if it specified a "CSS class name"). Same thing with style, it says it specifies an "inline style definition", but doesn't define what that means. It should link to the CSS section there also. A couple links for more information would go a long way. That being said, a Google search for "classname" is full of CSS information.

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Why bother?1. It's in the reference section. This implies that you have enough background to understand it.2. Each item is clearly linked to a more expansive explanation.3. If that's still not enough, hit the tutorial.
That was the point I was trying to make...:)
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A couple links for more information would go a long way.
And can be easily added. Not to mention appropriate...
And perhaps next time OP can politely point this out and make suggestions like these instead of saying that this is "the worst documentation I've seen in a long time" and other such rude remarks.
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This topic is almost on the verge of become close-worthy, so let's keep future comments related to the usability issues with the site and not let this degrade to personal attacks. It's worth remembering, though, that a good workman does not blame the tools for the poor quality of his craftsmanship.

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