The Power of “View Source”

Just recently, I started working a tutoring program here in DC. I’m showing this really cool high school guy how to make a Web site.  On Thursday, we started by learning tags and attributes.  We’re learning standards-based design.

One thing I told him about and showed him was that most Web browsers allowed you to see the HTML which made up a Web site.  You just had to go, “view source.”

We started going through some of his favorite sites.  He was recognizing some of the tags we’d been talking about on some of these sites he loved to visit.  He also started asking questions, “What does that tag do?  What does that element do?”

I had forgotten about the power of “view source.”  When I was learning HTML, I’d use it all the time.   I just wanted to expose myself to the language as much as possible.  I’d study the patterns.  I’d get a feeling for how people were doing things differently.

The high school guy I’m tutoring may not fully understand all the HTML he’s seeing when he goes “view source” but it all helps with him getting used to look at it.

The “View Source” button is critical to the learning process.   It demonstrates the power of the open Web and how people need to be able to learn from what others are doing.

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2 thoughts on “The Power of “View Source””

  1. Couldn’t agree more. I would have been lost without ‘view source’ and the kind folks on IRC when I was just a wee developer.

    And good on ya for tutoring. Very admirable.

  2. Not only does view source help you learn. It lets you continue to learn.

    If HTML, CSS and JS weren’t viewable to all, I doubt web development would be where it is today.

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