Tony Wu

Web experience consulting

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3 steps to a web business without internet

Having moved into the new condo for almost a month, internet still hasn’t been set up at home. I could have blamed myself for not getting the acts together in time, but I have chosen to join the public grudge towards BT’s inefficiency and unreasonable pricing in activating landlines. Considering I was also down with the flu for a weekend, the lack of internet access was rather frustrating at the beginning, but it’s made me rethink about how much I need (or, don’t need) the internet. I thought I’d start on how I’ve managed to continue the freelancing web design business and completed a website (pretty much) without internet access.

1. Develop locally

Be it Mac or PC, make sure you have the complete suite of softwares. If your work is more graphical than technical, make sure you have softwares such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash etc. If it’s the other way round, you’d need a fully equiped developing environment.

For PHP and MySQL developers, WAMP is very well recommended for PC users, and MAMP for Mac users. Without any surprise, LAMP is probably ideal for Linux users. In whichever case, a good HTML editor is required for CSS manipulation, and no one does it better than Dreamweaver. I am yet to try out the new Dreamweaver CS4, but CS3 suffices for most of my job requirements. One may argue that you can do all that Dreamweaver does with Notepad, but there’s no harm relying on the auto-complete, colour coding, and code management features.

Oh and of course, for Firefox users (and I don’t see why you shouldn’t be using Firefox), Firebug comes to the top of the list for one of the must-have plug-ins for local development. It features a full range of features for editing, debugging, and monitoring HTML, CSS, and JavaScript live in any web page.

2. Reduce, Reuse & Recycle

According to Web Designer Issue 150, 82% of readers would affect how they advise clients over using Flash content with Google’s capability to index SWF content. I personally started with JavaScript libraries a year ago when I first came to touch with being a web designer. It pretty much creates most of the effects and features that I wanted, and I was also happy with the fact that it runs fully on iPhone Safari when Flash content isn’t supported on the device. If Flash was also supported on iPhone, which I believe will only be a matter of time before it is, I’d definitely change my view on using Flash content.

Meanwhile, for the lovers of JavaScript libraries, be it MooTools, jQuery, Prototype, or script.aculo.us, make sure you have a latest copy of them in your computer. And I mean all of them, uncompressed. I started off as a happy MooTools user, but it was only a matter of time before any developer encounters a less than familiar language/framework that he or she must work with. As is the case for one of my clients, It has recently been required for me to learn to use the jQuery library. Fortunately I am still in the realm of JavaScript libraries, and it wasn’t too hard to pick it up. Good thing was that I had a full copy of it in my computer, and when I wasn’t too sure of any syntax or features, I can always go back to the original package, and check how the features have been built. Having said that, you’d need a reasonably good understanding of the language.

The main point is, when you need to produce any piece of code or layout, or when you are unsure about how to use a feature, go back to another piece of code that will show you how. As simple as it is, you’ll find yourself not relying on Google so much and gaining a deeper understanding of the tool that you use.

3. Plan ahead and use your online time wisely

The most common sympton for overly internet-reliant web developers is that they feel the need to upload everything of every phase of their project to a test server and test it. I used to be like that, before I one day wonderfully bumped into WAMP that is. The truth is, as long as you are aware of bandwidth issues with internet connections, you’ll do fine with a local server and Firebug.

As precious as £2.50 for 1 hour of internet time, make sure you plan your phases before you show the clients your work. If you need to, type the emails on Notepad before you hit the internet cafe, and schedule the phases and meetings with the clients. Normally this would also help in making sure you cut the slack and get the work done on time.

Bonus cake – Back up your work.

Taken from Internet Duct Tape:

“Hey, can you check out the latest version of this file to see if my changes work?” Except it’s never just one file, and the changes never work the first time. Checking code out into your working copy is not just an interruption, but can lose an entire afternoon trying to re-achieve the state you were at before updating that “one file”. Having multiple directory trees (hard drive space is cheap) can remove this problem.

Now I generally keep my code in three batches: Working, Stable, and a Current version that is kept in WAMP’s ‘www’ folder. In cases where a code goes horribly wrong, at least you’ll have something to revert to.

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This entry was posted on Friday, November 21st, 2008 at 4:02 pm and is filed under Blog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

One Response to “3 steps to a web business without internet”

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  1. YYC says:

    not bad…not bad…you prob. want to have few sample codes to start with as well, as they provides you the basic framework for your code.

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