To the wise of the Forum; How to learn....?

(Dave Hughes) #1

Firstly these forums are great and kudos to all those people who spend time answering questions and helping the less experienced like myself. I am slowly gaining experience in how to use RW, Stacks etc etc but I recognise following a number of threads, that I grind to a halt as soon as I want to do something that the stack in question hasn’t been designed to do. Whilst I understand the difference between HTML and CSS, I can probably do little more than get “Hello World” up and running on a blank page and then make it bold… (and I was very proud of that and then suitably embarrassed when I realise what other people are capable of).

A simple google search brings up lots of resources on how to learn HTML and CSS - my question is what would you recommend as learning resources to get better at this stuff?

Also (and I suspect this is an even more basic question), I have decided I actually haven’t a clue about how this stuff sits on a server and how it should be structured. I’ve learnt a few tricks from lurking here e.g. make sure index.html isn’t still on the serve if your page needs index.php (couldn’t begin to explain what php is) but I have no idea whether (for example) there is any merit in putting pages in your root folder or in subfolders (as long as they have different names). Rather than rely solely on Google (which returns 1.5 billion results for the phrase ‘learn HTML’), anyone got any resources they really value that will help get a relative novice up the learning curve. I’d love to help other people but my knowledge on this stuff is relatively limited and, at the moment, I would do more harm than good!

I throw myself at the mercy of the Forum :grin:



p.s. to embarrass myself even more, over 30 years ago I used to be capable of programming in Fortran and Pascal so unless senility has caught up to, there must be some basic memories of programming principles lurking somewhere in the grey matter…

(Rob D) #2

Hi, Dave,

You’ve chosen RapidWeaver as your web building app. That means that you are not very inclined to learn all the intricacies of hand coding. And you shouldn’t be. There is a lot of better things to spend your time on than HTML and CSS learning. With basic RW app and perhaps a few extra well-chosen stacks you can build excellent web sites.

Then, again, if you are willing to learn a bit of coding, you can make your websites even better. But that is not a requirement. Unless you want to become a pro. My suggestion is to dive right in and experiment with what the app offers to you. Subscribe to the RSS feed of this forum and read ALL posts and replies. This is very educational. Learn about capabilities of add-ons from the product pages and from videos made by developers. That’s all you need to do to start off. Later, when you stumble upon difficulties, come back here and ask specific questions. As an ex-programmer, you will catch up quickly. I have absolutely no programming in my background, but I get results that are pretty satisfying to me. And I kept learning (and still do) just the way I described it above.

I guarantee, you’ll have fun as you learn that way… Happy weaving…


I started this a while ago. Haven’t completely finished it, but it starts at the beginning and is pretty easy to follow.

(Dave Hughes) #4

Thanks - it is as much about wanting to know a little more about what is under the hood. I think RW and all the add ons are great but I want to know (a little) about how it works. It is probably a the mid life crisis equivalent of when in my teens I decided the only way to really programme was to skip compilers and learn to write in native machine code (and no that didn’t last long)



(Dave Hughes) #5

Thanks - looks interesting, I will see how far I get!


(Marten Claridge ) #6

Hi Dave,

There’s nothing like a crisis to find out who you really are. Or just as vitally, who you’re not. After a lifetime writing I found out I wasn’t a bestselling novelist… but by then I’d already discovered a new passion — RapidWeaver and webdesign — which reignited the learning fever in me, the hunger for knowledge and need for a deeper understanding of how things work. Fortunately it coincided with the growth of a great new community in the forum here, with giants like Phil Warrender, Larry Pollock, Ed Brenner only too willing to help, instruct and support.

Of course, back then the technologies were fewer and less complex. There were no stacks to drag’n’drop the goodness, so if you wanted to step outside the RapidWeaver box and customise your site, you had to have at least a basic understanding of HTML and CSS and perhaps even a little jQuery. But once you understood the rudiments you were hooked. You saw its power and had to have more of it.

Me, I took evening classes and learned the basics. Then I found I was able to answer questions on the forum — there’s always someone who knows less than you do! And I found the more I helped, the more I learned — because when you help others you have a responsibility to get things right.

I had no dreams back then, no ambition to develop or become a developer, my midlife crisis had ground me to a pulp, reset my dials to default, and I was simply going through the motions, satisfying abstract creative desires on a day-to-day basis.

But what do we really understand about the seismic shifts that are constantly taking place deep within us? We’re seldom conscious of the gradual transformation of our subterranean landscape until we’re hit by some revelational tsunami or Damascene conversion.

In my case the realisation was quite simple: “I can do this.”

And I bet you can too.

RapidWeaver Central


That’s a shame, because some of the things you’ve written on your site over the years are pure gold. I remember the release of the Bigfoot Footers had me chuckling for days. :trophy:

(Dave Hughes) #8

Cheers Marten - I appreciate your encouragement. Particularly as, if you didn’t want to be a developer, you seem to have done all right for yourself :wink:

Luckily I have no desire to make a career out of it (even though knowing more would tangentially help a little with what I do). Perhaps I should worry more about the fact that I want to do this for fun. I really must get out more…


(Marten Claridge ) #9

Just unlucky, I guess… :wink:


(Dave Hughes) #10

Yeah - life sucks like that…

(Will Woodgate) #11

RapidWeaver is a very accessible web development platform ideally suited towards basic, static websites of say no more than 100 pages. You can structure a website however you want and name pages (within limits) whatever you want. If you need to access files published on the web server or look at how they’re arranged, then your hosting company can help you with installing some FTP software and connecting it to your web server. At that point you can view all published files much the same as a Finder window on your computer.

You can use RapidWeaver without needing to come into contact with any HTML or CSS markup. Often any code snippets you do need to use (like analytics tracking, ExtraContent, Font Awesome Icons and Bootstrap components) are readily usable in copy-and-paste format; meaning you don’t need to edit anything or know what they do.

I am of the opinion (and this has upset some people in the past) that if you want to call yourself a web designer or a web developer then an understanding of HTML and CSS is absolutely 100% essential. These technologies are the backbone of the modern internet. It’s proven that people with these skills can build better websites faster and get paid more. Either if you’re working for yourself or building sites for others on a hobby or commercial basis.

Some people have asked me in the past what I would recommend for learning the basics of HTML and CSS. My answer is to signup for a free account on Code Academy:

Their tutorials and interactive activities are by far the best available. The HTML / CSS course is 7 hours long and targeted at beginners:

(Dave Hughes) #12

Thanks Will - time to invest some hours I think!