As I was driving to a tutoring appointment yesterday the phone rang. I am pretty strict about cell phones while driving, but after all, it could have been a job offer, so I answered it.
It was The Computer Guy. He told me his timeline for the sample site and I told him that his blog post was in draft form but I still needed to get some of the numbers out of it.
People’s eyes slide off the screen when there are too many numbers in a post.
“Okay,” he said. “Do you use Blah Blah Blah web tools?”
I was peering at street signs at the time, so I am willing to believe that he said something else. I think I said nothing at all.
The Computer Guy said something about being able to put text directly onto the sites, and I suggested that he send me the name of the program in question, and I’d learn it. “You can e-mail me things and I can tweak them,” he said despairingly.
“No, really,” I said. “I’m quick.”
Turns out it was Visual Studio Express. Not Blah Blah Blah.
So when I got home last night I downloaded the program, watched the video, found and worked through the kids’ tutorials, and generally got myself up to speed on this new program.
I was a little mystified. This is a web design program for amateurs. There was some controversy about it when it first came out, with people worrying that it would diminish the value of good web design. Imagine the monks of medieval Ireland objecting to the idea of literacy among the common people, and you will have a sense of the tone in these discussions.
During my study I had a few fleeting moments of wondering what we were going to do with this stuff. After all, this is a guy who uses XHTML1.0.Strict, not transitional like you and me. What are the chances that he wants to switch to a program that lets people drag and drop radio buttons?
What, in particular, are the chances that he wants to allow someone like me to drag and drop radio buttons onto his sites?
It hit me as I came out to make the coffee this morning: it was supposed to be easy enough for me to use. Being a real live engineer, The Computer Guy has misunderstood the level of difficulty involved in using HTML for text. I do it all the time. He’s thinking that — to put it in our shared language — since it is challenging to design an Aran sweater, it is also hard to knit a garter stitch scarf.
I could be wrong, but that’s my working hypothesis. I emailed him delicately asking what the heck we were going to do with that cool new program.
It could have been the result at least in part of an exchange we’d had earlier in the day. We’re offering technology training workshops for local teachers, so I had sent him the course description of one of the tech workshops offered by the local authorities. Here it is:
“In this workshop, attendees will have the opportunity to view new websites that correlate with the AR Frameworks and to navigate through them.”
This is a six-hour workshop, and the attendees will be looking at websites together.
“That’s not tech training,” he said. I could hear his brow furrowing.
“True,” I agreed, “but it is what our local teaches are being offered. You can see why I am so confident.”
Perhaps he thought then that, if this is what teachers imagined people did in tech training sessions, then he had better find a much easier program for me to use.
Anyway, if you have any desire to build web pages for your own amusement, check out that link. It’s quite fun to play with. It still requires you to learn code, and it’s not compatible with html, so it’s not going to be useful if you are working with anyone else. It reminds me, in that, of Esperanto. But it is fun.
So, yeah, I’ll let you know how it comes out.