Module 2 MS Expression Curriculum

by cdwise 14. January 2011 07:52

Moving on to Module 2 HTML Basics at least the PowerPoint does include common HTML elements and the critical fact that “web sites may appear differently in different browsers” Even though the browser list is still not reflecting the current browser make-up with no mention of the different rendering of IE 6, 7 & 8 or Chome/Opera while still displaying Netscape prominently.

Unfortunately, the first example given for students to copy does not include a single <p> element in the body yet shows as multiple paragraphs in the sample. In addition, as the coding lesson progress deprecated elements and attributes used solely for presentation such as <u> and <body text=”red”> are given as if they should actually be used on your web page.

Heading elements are also explained as a method of altering text size. – This is so wrong I can’t believe it is actually in a class on HTML. <u>, <body body link="#000fff vlink="#00FF00 alink="FF0000>  and other such code is taught. Even when CSS is introduced the use of font-size: 12pt and font-family with only one font listed is very bad practice. This is an actual sample of the code they use:

<body><h1>This is where the heading of the Web page might go.</h1><br>
<h2>This is where the main part of the text would go.</h2>

As is this example from the assignment as the correct way to create a web page:

<html>
<head>
<!--Student Name—>
<title>Hansel and Gretel</title>
<link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="mypaStyle.css" />
</head>
<body>
<img src="C:\Documents and Settings\Owner.FAMILYROOM\Desktop\S.2.7.WS_Pic.jpg" height="100" width="150" align=right alt="Our Flag"> (note the align attribute)
<h1 align=center>Hansel and Gretel by the Brothers Grimm</h1>
<h3 align=center>Student Name</h3>
<hr width=90% size=10 color="#0000FF"><br>
<p>"Hansel and Gretel" is known as a fairy tale and was written by the Brothers Grimm.</p>
(snipped remaining paragraphs & links that are outside of paragraphs with br elements) </body>
</html>

Can you believe that the above mark-up is being taught today? Ironically, while the <marquee> tag is one of those being taught the module text document brings up HTML5 in the same discussion as Encarta is given as an additional resource – with a link that leads to this page has been discontinued.

This mix of old, deprecated code and resources with the occasional reference to today’s best practices seems not only an odd mix but also one that will leave students very confused about what they should do. Besides HTML basics should be mastered before the use of web services from Module 1 are even broached.

Tags:

Expression Web | Training

Module 1 MS Expression Web 4 curriculum

by cdwise 14. January 2011 06:51

After this thread http://social.expression.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/web/thread/e648bb8b-47e0-4a9d-8241-d0a0e025116b on teaching Expression Web to students I figured I’d download and look at the curriculum Lori Dirks referenced. After all I hadn’t looked at the MS educational resources for v4.

My first issue was how many steps it took to download the files. Each module was a separate download link and from there it was another 3+ clicks before your download actually started. In addition, after the first few downloads I could only download one set of resources at a time despite being on a 20mps connection. It seemed to be a server issue waiting for the MS server to respond.

Starting with the overview pdf I noticed the same links were in there over and over after each module summary. I’m not sure why someone thought it was necessary. The way it was presented and the length of the links caused me to think each link was related to the module it followed not to the same two pages over and over.

They syllabus looked pretty good but my initially favorable impression went away when I opened Module 1, Day 1 to discover Photo Story 3 for Windows as the first lesson. My disappoint stemmed not from the use of Photo Story for storyboarding a website (which might after all be a reasonable thing to do) but because it starts off with import your photos, remove the black border, add titles & music.  I have no clue what the relevance of creating a slide show to playback on your computer has to do with the stated topic of Module 1 History and Future of the Web. I can only conclude, particularly from other references within the file that this was included by mistake or at least I would have if the Word doc didn’t start with that exact title followed by Day 1.

Upon opening more pages in module 1 I see that the assignment was to create a multimedia presentation using Photo Story about wikis, blogs, podcasts & webcast with the option to include Web 2.0 topics.

The PowerPoint presentation used to actually provide the lesson material seems to me to be very out of date for an application that was released summer 2010. The latest browser statistics given were for 2003. Market share is shown for Netscape (3.7%), IE 95.9% and “others” (0.4%) which is so completely out of date as to be worse than useless. Browsers such as Firefox (depending on your site topic & location 20-55% market share), Safari, Opera and Chrome each have more market share than the total “other” browsers listed. IE 7 & 8 which have considerably different rendering characteristics from IE 6 weren’t even a gleam on the horizon back in 2003. The site used as a reference for those statistics “onstat.com” leads me now to a page full of advertising that looks like a domain placeholder page. Looking at the W3Schools browser stats page I see a different picture for 2003 with IE having 84.6%, Mozilla 7.2%, Netscape 2.6% and Opera 1.9%. For 2002 the IE percentage is about the same but Netscape was 8.0% and AOL (which depending on exactly when used a custom version of Netscape or IE) at 3-5%.

On the whole though the PowerPoint presentation did contain useful information if someone just removes or updates the browser stats slide. Though using blue links on a blue background is simply idiotic. Sorry but even on my color calibrated monitor there is such low contrast as to make the links virtually invisible. Putting it up on a projector would be even worse. Web 2.0 is of the same vintage as the browser information and has been superseded by “social media” in the Facebook & Twitter mode which is quite different than Web 2.0 social media. I also had to look up what “Freemium Business Model” means since it wasn’t a term I had really heard before. I’d always known that model as “advertising supported” and/or tiered services.

The only other comment I have on the slide deck is that the person using it really needs to be able to flesh out the bullet points with actual knowledge and discussion of what those bullets mean.

Day 2 & Day 3 do contain useful information, particularly the section on copyright. Too many classes don’t adequately address that everything you see on the internet is copyrighted by the site holder or whoever it is that is credit with the article/content. Permission is always needed though in a few cases the article or site itself will grant you permission to use it. So I am glad to see that covered.

Day 4 concentrates on MS Live services, something that I do not think is appropriate at this stage for students. While I have no objection to using Live services like Live Writer or Calendar why services like Live Agent or Windows Live Share (Live Sync?) are included I have no clue. Frankly, I don’t see the benefit to students or even to MS at this point in the curriculum. Ironically, the most useful thing in the Day 4 PowerPoint is the “Practice” instruction to Complete the Web Services tutorial at the W3Schools site but even that is premature. You shouldn’t be concerned about web services until you can actually create a website nor should they be concerned about creating a podcast at this stage of their learning either, especially one with background music nor if the idea is to learn about creating websites is creating a Live blog the thing to do at this time.

Day 5 seems to be somewhat of an overview of the week with the activity set to narrow searches. This week of lessons leaves me very confused about what it is the person is supposed to be learning.

Module 2 review coming up soon.

Tags:

Expression Web | Training

Expression Web MVP Articles

by cdwise 23. January 2009 06:11

According to the Microsoft Expression Newsletter there is a new Expression Web MVP Morten Rand-Hendriksen, Creative Director of Pink & Yellow Media.

If you don't subscribe to the newsletter you may want to check out his article on "Understanding and Unleashing the Power of CSS Layouts"

While you are at it if you want to learn more about master pages in Expression Web check Introduction to ASP.NET Master Pages in Microsoft Expression Web. by Expression Web MVP Dustin Drees.  (His Expression video tutorials are excellent btw)Dustin has created some of my most recommended videos.

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Expression Web | Training

Workflow Evolution

by cdwise 15. October 2008 10:30

I don't know about you but I have a tendency to form workflow habits for each program I use that I carry over from one version of a program to another. True there well be same changes as I discover new features but sometimes I well miss out on a better workflow because sticking with my ingrained workflow causes me to miss how a new feature could improve my workflow.

I have been playing with the Dreamweaver CS4 beta and realized that the time has come to rethink the workflow I use when working in Dreamweaver. Part of the reason is clear to anyone who has downloaded and tried out the publics beta from http://labs.adobe.com . (Note to use for more than one day you need to generate an install key which requires the key from any CS program.)

The new Live View and massive changes to the CSS tools clearly call for a new workflow. Smaller changes like splitting the Property Inspector into two views, HTML and CSS, might  or night not have causal me to re-evaluate my workflow but the combination of new features and changes to the interface are forcing a workflow review. (Personally I really wish they had not gone to the black interface far too hard to read in my opinion, I've changed the Expression Web interface to blue instead of the default black for be same reason.)

The Challenge of Change

You would think that those of us who work in the fast changing world of the web would be constantly adapting my our workflow as the web changes but in many cases even though we expand our repertoire of skills our fundamental workflow changes little.

Instead we shoehorn into our existing workflow. Where we would once have dragged out a code snippet for reuse we now pop a jQuery, YUI or Moo tools library into our site and use it just like we would a piece of code we created for reuse stored in the snippets panel. After all few of us have the luxury of setting down and thoroughly exploring all paths and features available in the software we use daily.

I remember once hearing that most of the feature requests Microsoft gets for Word were already there just not discovered by the user making the request. I know that there are things in any program I use that would improve my workflow if I just spent the time exploring menus I have never look at but like most people my time is limited. Plus familiarity with parts I use all the time of a program tends to keep me in my comfort zone.

So just how do you go about changing well established habits?

Books: Get a good book on the subject but if you are anything like me you will adapt a ignore the book's workflow and use your own. If you do get a book make sure you do the exercises as prescribed if you are trying  to improve your workflow.

Live events: Go to events sponsored by software vendor. Many launch events are good for this if try have breakout sessions. Attend industry conferences whether sponsored by one company like Adobe MAX or Microsoft MIX or events like South  x Southwest and Webmaster Jam Session. You may be fortunate enough  to have a user group for web design, web development or a local Refresh group in your area. Attend the meetings, get involved.

Reworded events: If there are no live in-person events near you many of the launches are recorded and available as Webcasts.

Webcasts:-Such as Adobe TV, Channel 9 (Microsoft) though many of these are more marketing oriented bit there are many thus will help you learn how to use their program effectively.

Training videos: These can be free or paid. For example I have several free training videos on by-expression.com  but this blog post was inspired by watching the Dreamweaver CS4 ideas on lynda.com (note other than as a satisfied user I have no affiliation with Lynda.com but as an Adobe Community Expert for Dreamweaver I can provides you an user group discount code for Lynda.com training use the  the lynda.com user group partner logo link for more info.

Attend classes: ones with instructors available to answer your questions. These can be live in person such as through a training center ($$$) usually up to date but tend to stile to the vendor prescribed curriculum. Community college classes, just make sure they one teaching a modern standards based curriculum too many are stuck in slice and dice tables of last century. Online classes such as chose we offer at Start to Web or the HTML Writer's Guild. As someone who has both taken classes

and taught them online I am constantly amazed at the people who pay for a class yet don't post a single word during the entire class. If you take a class - DO YOUR ASSIGNMENTS - ask questions and participate. You have no idea what it is like to be an instructor and have students who paid money to take the class not participate.

Time for me to shake up and improve my workflow. I will be doing that with Jim Babbage's new Fireworks CS4 book, watching videos and attending conferences.

Tags:

Dreamweaver | Expression Web | Training

Houston Presentation

by cdwise 19. July 2008 23:47

For any of you who may be in the Houston area I will be speaking at HAL-PC (Houston Area League of PC Users http://www.hal-pc.org) Next Tuesday, July 22nd at the Web Technologies SIG. While my presentation will focus on Expression Web 2 I  intend to provide a preview of Dreamweaver CS 4 as well.

If you are going to attend and would like to follow along with either program you can get a trial version of Expression Web v2 from Microsoft at http://expression.microsoft.com/en-us/cc136529.aspx

You can get the public beta of Adobe Dreamweaver CS 4 at http://labs.adobe.com/ while you are there take a look at the Fireworks CS 4 and Soundbooth betas as wells. Other programs to check out are Adobe Photoshop Express and if you ever wanted a tool that would help you with your website color scheming check out Kruler, http://kuler.adobe.com/.

Hope to see you there.

Tags:

Expression Web | Dreamweaver | Training



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