Brushing Up on HTML & CSS at Jury Duty

Learn how I recently honed my understanding of HTML5 and CSS3 while in jury duty recently

Posted by Ryan Heavican on August 30, 2016

I recently had the good pleasure of serving on jury duty. Slight sarcasm aside, I was genuinely interested to see what the jury process was like for my first time, particularly since I studied the legal system as an undergrad in college. And although I wish such observation was interesting enough to keep me occupied for the entire length of my jury duty, it most definitely was not. Thus, I stuffed my Kindle Voyage full of enough reading material to last me for a few week-long jury trials & readied myself for a day spent with a few hundred friends in a jury assembly room.

Dive Back into HTML/CSS

I’ve become entirely consumed with HTML, CSS, JavaScript and web development in general over the past few weeks. It’s been a few years since I’ve worked on any web development apart from the WordPress sites I’d deployed at work (and also this one) so I feel this is a great time to hone my understanding of the latest web technologies.

Codecademy Dashboard
Gotta finish all those HTML & CSS Codecademy projects!

As such, I’ve started taking front end web development paths of study through W3Schools, Codecademy, and Free Code Camp & I’ve been devoting hours each day to these paths of study. My goal isn’t just to just become familiar with the latest web trends in HTML5 and CSS3 (like the ascendance of the Boostrap framework). Rather, I want to be able to harness these trends myself to create projects that utilize cutting edge technologies and standards.

HTML in a Day Bootcamp

The first ebook that I dove into was HTML and HTML5: HTML In A Day Bootcamp by Kyle Horne. I chose this book not only because it was free off Amazon, but because I could easily follow along without needing an HTML editor, which I didn’t have access to while at jury duty.

As the name suggests, this is a very introductory text. The first 2 sections didn’t particularly introduce me to HTML concepts that I didn’t know before. And the fact that the scope of the book only covered HTML, and no CSS, was frustrating since the 2 are so connected. However, this book did introduce me to a few new tags that I hadn't heard before like <abbr> for abbreviations, <ins> for inserted text, and <mark> which highlights text. But unfortunately I don’t think that these are tags that I’ll be using very often.

HTML5 Introduction

The text was more useful, however, in its introduction to HTML changes that had been implemented with HTML5. More specifically, the text introduced me to the new set of semantic tags that include the following:

  • <nav>
  • <header>
  • <article>
  • <section>
  • <aside>
  • <footer>

These new semantic elements meaningfully describe page content to both browsers and developers by using element names like nav or footer that describe their content. It’s easy to see how these elements are useful and I’m sure that I’ll be utilizing them a great deal as I tackle more and more HTML5/CSS3 projects.

The text also introduced me to other new HTML5 properties that affect forms, video, and audio elements. In general, these new properties greatly simplify how forms, audio and video are rendered in browsers.

Now What?

I’m glad that I spent my jury service learning about HTML and CSS. Although the text I chose was pretty basic, it helped to reinforce some of the concepts that I’m currently learning. I’ll continue in my course studies of HTML/CSS/Javascript over the next few months.

I’m particularly excited to learn more about Bootstrap 4, which is a very popular framework that makes writing responsive HTML/CSS very easy. I started another ebook on Bootstrap while at jury duty but was excused before I could dive very far into it. I’ll definitely write a review breaking down the online courses and additional texts that I use throughout this journey.