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Coding for the Web

Over the past few months, my coding focus has shifted from Python programming to front-end website development. It wasn’t a conscious choice so much as a natural gravitation back toward topics that have always interested me.

As a result, I recently finished up three Code School courses:

  • CSS Cross-Country
  • Functional HTML5 & CSS3
  • Journey Into Mobile

I’m onto the 4th course in the Code School HTML/CSS track: Assembling Sass. I’m loving this experience! There’s so much for me to learn and improve.

I’m also immensely aware of how hacky some of my older code is. Last year, I hacked together a WordPress child theme (based on the Thematic theme) for my parents’ church’s website. They already had the site design, but they wanted it built with WordPress. Since my PHP knowledge is … minimal, I focused on moving elements around and styling them with CSS. The result? A lot of redundant code and a functioning website that is a little too dependent on nothing being changed drastically. (What? You mean widgets are meant to be flexible? hahaha …)

This week, I took a small step toward improving that theme. I finally learned how the wp_enqueue_style and wp_dequeue_style functions work. Well, at least enough to finally update the Thematic parent theme and keep the existing stylesheets in my child theme functioning. (I’m only, oh, a year late. Better late than never?)

My goal for the rest of the year is to improve this child theme to the point that it won’t break down when the website management changes hands. The first goal for switching that website to WordPress was to make it so my parents (who currently manage the site) could easily update the website text and add a blog. I succeeded on that point. But they want other people to get involved in managing the site, which means I need to fix all those places where the theme breaks if you do the “wrong” thing with it.

My more ambitious goal is to build the theme so it will adapt to mobile devices and it won’t need the Jetpack mobile theme — but I’m trying to focus on one thing at a time. I’m a perfectionist, and I have to constantly remind myself that the perfect is the enemy of the good. Incremental improvements are my friend. And someday, maybe, I’ll be ready to build a theme from scratch!

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Happiness Engineer for Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com. Linguaphile and Translator. Tester.