Wednesday, July 26 2000
Back "in the day" when I worked as a front end developer at CollegeClub.com, design was an imprecise business and the phrase "good enough" had real meaning. Design definitely wasn't the emphasis, and this was made clear by how terribly overworked the design staff was. I'll never forget the perpetual bloodshot in poor Mama's eyes. As a reward for her dedication, she pulled a record stint as the Grand Pooh Bah's significant other. This is not to say that I was by any means envious.
Today at my present workplace, I received a rather abrupt introduction to an "entirely new level" of design fastidiousness. Yesterday the design chick had had a long sit down meeting with my boss to pick out (and that is definitely the operative word) everything that was wrong with the way I'd laid out the message boards. And you wouldn't believe the complexities of what she expected of me. We're talking here about a complex array of rectangles resembling a cafeteria tray, each divided by a single-pixel colored line that was expected to extend out to the edge and not end in any sort of margin. The first time I'd seen this in the design, I'd assumed it was simply a layout that called for borders being set to 1. It seemed kind of odd, especially when you consider how ugly table borders are, but I figured perhaps the design person was showing how great she was by deliberately breaking one of the most important design rules, "thou shall not use table borders to do anything but debug." So what the hell, I'd set the borders to 1. Now it was clear that this was not what had been designed.
And so, for much of my work day, I found myself dealing with HTML tables, just like back when I'd never even heard of SQL. It was strange in a way, sort of like a CEO finding himself doing janitorial work. But, just like at CollegeClub, message boards are my baby, front end to back end. If I have to do tricky design work to keep fussy LA designers happy, I'll do it. In the process, though, I could feel my cerebral power being put to a new sort of use. Unusual neural pathways were being deployed. It was a little like being on drugs.
Later in the day I even found myself completely faking it with cascading style sheets in front of my boss. I know almost nothing about this technology, but I didn't want to come off as some sort of Netscape 2.1 Neanderthal. So there I was, trying out things I'd never done before right in front of my her. It's times like this when the logical consistency of programming languages works in my advantage; by conforming to the example syntax in the style sheet I was editing, I managed to keep from making a fool of myself.
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