From tables to tablets - Part 2 of 3: Adolescence

Looking for Part 1 of 3: Childhood?

Just keep on learning

So, table layouts. Table layouts and not a single bit of CSS, no sir.

My daily job consisted in receiving an image of a full layout, a bunch of sliced out JPEG and GIF files (back then, my beloved PNG format was not cool enough. Go figure), and place them into the proper cells of my carefully organized table layout.
And those 1px squared, transparent, gifs! Lord, how many of them I willingly planted in those otherwise meaningless table cells to the sole purpose of have them acting as an unholy pack of spacers!

Wild days.

Anyway. When the year 2002 came, my 4-years-long transition from Windows + Linux at home and Windows at work, to Windows for gaming and Linux for everything else was completed.

I was 25, refreshingly single again, involved in the Linux community and in Open Source, and I had recently switched courses from Electronic Engineering to Computer Science.
I was ripe.

One day a fellow coworker, since then also a friend, whose desk was right beside mine, turned to me and:

You know what? Table layouts suck. I mean, it doesn’t really make sense. Tables are for… displaying tabular data!

And I was like:

Yep, makes sense… but we don’t really have another way to — *points at the monitor displaying a work-in-progress website* — do that.


Not really. Look at this.

This was, a seminal, crucial, fundamental, website by Gianluca Troiani.
His writing style was clear and to-the-point, he knew the moves, and in two weeks I had columns floating all around and swishing away (until I also learned about clear fixes :p), and double margins, 3px jogs, and peek-a-boos to deal with.

As months came and went, I kept reading — now mostly blogs — and from link to link I discovered CSS Zen Garden at the very begininning of its journey.

Me browsing CSS Zen Garden

Fast forward to October 2004, align some stars, pinch a unicorn in the back dodging the subsequent kick, and you have me reading the HTML4.01, XHTML 1.0 & 1.1, CSS 2.0 & 2.1 specs at night.
I read them all, two times, I was a Web Standards Paladin and I was just starting a new position at a new place.

This time the job involved the freshly baked Legge Stanca, meaning that my nightly readings were now about Jakob Nielsen, Michele Diodati, Roberto Scano, and the WCAG 1.0.

I had also discovered a full lineage of CMS: from PHP-Nuke, to PostNuke, to MD-Pro, with a slightly longer jump to Mambo. Later on I would continue testing several other ones, rather obviously including Joomla and WordPress.

So, by the turn of the year, in 2005, you had a full-grown CSS craftsman, Microsoft Internet Explorer bugbuster, Usability paladin and Web Accessibility evangelist all packed into a handsome 190cm italian guy.

It was about time to once again shake my tailfeather, turn some pages, and… do what I’m going to write about on Part 3!