AiS 30: Web Development Techniques

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Charles Martin of Before You Are Gone shares some of his time-tested web development techniques. And we even make some up on the spot.

First, consider creating separate servers. You need at least four. Start with a development server where the team can first integrate their code and see if it works. Then deploy to a test server where your QA team can exercise it. Practice your deployment on a staging area separate from the others so that you can be certain that you can upgrade the current production release to the next one. Finally, of course, you have the production environment, far removed from the others.

For the love, don't develop in production!

Second, the separation of style from content is essential to modern web development. Always create a CSS file rather than embedding style within the page. Understand how specificity determines how styles are applied to elements of a document. And to test your CSS file, consider creating a single template page that includes examples of all elements that you use in the entire site. This gives you one place to look to see if your CSS change affects anyone else.

And third, configure your environment to report all Javascript errors. Web browsers are very forgiving by default. They have to be because of all the legacy code that is out there on useful sites today. Since you don't have a compiler to check for errors, you have to rely on the browser to perform that function. Let it tell you about all the errors on your pages, and test each page on all major platforms. Now that we have Safari for Windows, the Mac - and the iPhone - cannot be ignored.

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