From tables to tablets

This is a three-part post I’m writing about my personal love story with CSS and web standards.

After 15 years, I think this passion of mine deserves a little recap to help me better appreciate the past and focus on the next — for sure — decades of wonderful adventures.

Part 1 of 3: Childhood

Well, in 1998 I was 21 so not really a child anymore, but in regard to the Internet in general and web development in particular I was at square 1.

I was gradually switching from playing keyboards to playing my computer’s keyboard; I also started reading computer magazines, one of which was — wait for it — Computer Magazine: an italian monthly publication which would come with a juicy CD sporting all sorts of exciting new softwares for us to try and later purchase.

It was the wild Age of Shareware.

Long story short, here it comes Microsoft Publisher 98.
It was clean, it had templates, it was WYSIWYG, I had something to say and one of the very first available 56K internet connections in Italy.
Soon my first website was online, at Geocities.
By then, I had discovered the View HTML option in my web browser but still I wasn’t able to understand what I was seeing.

Then, in 1999, I had my hands on a copy of Macromedia Dreamweaver. I still can remember that exact moment when, as I was fiddling with the variuos options to see if I had found a suitable replacement for Publisher, my mind was suddenly blown away by this exact thought:

Aspetta! Vuoi dire che io clicco sulla roba che vedo e tu mi scrivi l’HTML corrispondente sotto il naso?

Which, in english, would have been more or less:

Wait! You telling me I click on stuff on the screen and you write HTML in my face?

Me at the time of my sudden clarity moment

But, as often happens, life is not all kittens and HTML and it wasn’t until 2000 that I started writing HTML instead of clicking on things to produce it.
That year I landed my first real job at L’Unione Editoriale, a publishing house which was at the time the veteran of the italian part of the web.

There I finally learned to code HTML and write fairly complex layouts from the very start.
Because, guess what, they were all table layouts.

I know, shame on me. But wait till Part 2, where I’ll redeem myself getting to know — and falling in love with — CSS!