Being a Modern Marketer Requires Basic HTML & JavaScript Skills

So my day job is marketing operations for AddThis. Today, I had to make some changes to our Contact Us form. It required that I change the backend routing which is done with JavaScript. I opened my Integrated Development Environment (IDE) and edited with the switch statement to include a new option that we were adding.

Yep, I’m a marketer and I know how to code. I have an IDE. I was able to write some basic JavaScript. And… it all worked.

I firmly believe that modern marketers have some basic HTML & JavaScript skills. You’ll find yourself needing to edit the code of an HTML email because something isn’t displaying correctly.  Are you going to run to a developer every time? No. That creates a HUGE bottle neck. Just do it yourself.

AddThis Website Tools is used by a lot of marketers. It requires that you copy & paste a couple lines of JavaScript and paste it into the code of your site. If we ask you to spot the <body> tag, that shouldn’t freak you out. Knowing how to do this yourself will gain you a tremendous amount of respect from your engineering team.

The modern marketer needs to be able to find their way around HTML, CSS, and some basic JavaScript. Marketing is increasingly technical and has to work with technical people. Having some basic technical skills is a MUST.

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Microsoft Internet Explorer 8 Passes the Acid 2 Test… Hooray!

Even though plenty of people have already written about this, I wanted to pass on my congratulations to the Microsoft Internet Explorer team for passing the Acid2 test on their recent internal build of Internet Explorer 8.  I realize that is a big achievement and they should be congratulated.

Blogs at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)

At the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Technical Plenary and Advisory Council week last week, there was concern that not enough people knew about the W3C blogs.

Well here is a list of some of the ones that I read…

There are probably more that I just don’t know about. Hopefully someone will send me those links

These blogs are a great opportunity to interact and have a conversation with those who have an influential role on the future of the Web.

W3C TPAC: Notes from “View from the Outside: Real World Perspectives on the W3C”

Notes: I’m at the W3C Tech Plenary. Here are the rough notes from the first session. I may or may not clean these up later. 😉  If I didn’t attribute one of the quotes properly, I apologize.  I was taking notes very quickly, while occasionally looking at an IRC channel.   If you have any corrections for quotes, drop me a comment. Intro by Molly H.

  • In the industry at large there has been an opening up. If the Web touches an organization, it must shift.
  • The W3C has been perceived as the ivory towers of the Web. There is the feeling of there being a disconnect.
  • There is an event in life that brings the wall down. It is often difficult to change but when we get through that process we can rebuild and renew.
  • Throughout the day we’re going to hear more about openess.

Introductions

  • Matthew (MO)
  • Stephanie (ST)
  • Aaron (AG)
  • Patrick (PH)
  • Molly (MH)

Point 1 – What is the role of a specification or standard?

  • AG: Gotta know who you’re audience is. Who are you’re writing for? People written for the implementers in the browsers. Certain ambiguities in the spec lead to different implementation. If you’re a developer, you can’t use the spec to learn and understand css. People read the spec and fall asleep.
  • ST: If you come from a country where English is not your native language, learning web standards is so very difficult.
  • MO: Web standards don’t affect me because the people I work with don’t use them. They’re a couple of steps beyond using font tags
  • MH: We were starting to talk about ontologies. MO didn’t understand the words.
  • MO: W3C uses nomenclature I don’t understand. I use this from a business stand point and how to implement this for a client. I have to work with this stuff everyday. Standards do affect me.
  • AG: The language does really have a cost. By not understanding the spec, the developers have to spend more time understanding what they have to do.
  • PH: I find myself getting lost in the spec. I have to understand things more that I care to.
  • ST: I am able to read specs and implement them. i have a bunch of junior developers I have to help train. Just for them to reach them level we want them to achieve. Who pays for them to learn the company or the client?
  • MO: Business folks are only willing to pay for what they understand.

Point 2 – Where is it most appropriate to compete: UI? Browser features? Spec implementations?

  • AG: Standards impelentations should just be something that’s there and not competed over. There should be a baseline with browsers. there were the dark days when I had to write JS for each browser.
  • There seem to be this misperception that standards inhibit innovation. It gives us the platform to innovate beyond.
  • PH: I have to hold back with what I want to do with a design because I can’t do it in CSS.

Point 3 – How can we improve the W3C process?

  • AG: The tools are there within the spec to innovate by outside people.
  • MH: There has been a real shift with HTML5 becoming open. There has been a real disconnect with the spec and implementations.
  • ST: There is info but it’s hard to find. There is a communication problem.
  • MH: There needs to be education & outreach. There is a historical issue there. The W3C has been dependent on other groups like WaSP.
  • AG: I’ve been sitting at the CSS WG for the last two days. Their strong suit is not marketing its writing the spec. The bloggers, implementers, teachers are marketing. There needs to be convo with the developers.
  • ST: The waterfall model doesn’t work.
  • MH: People ask…Will we ever see CSS 2.1 or CSS3?
  • There is a perception of it being ivory towers… but people see that the process is changing.

Point 4 – How do we create common goals and consistent priorities?(was reading IRC too much)Point 5 – How do we address the critical challenge of outreach & education?

  • PH: In the Univ setting, most are decentralized. It’s hard to get folks to talk together. When the specs are hard to understand it’s hard…
  • AG: I’m encouraged by the CSS WG is working with CSS Eleven. I’d love to see more of that. There needs to be more of a conversation.
  • ST: Are specs supposed to be a certain level? It is not about at a certain competency level… It’s about communicating with all the audiences.
  • MH: Within the TAG group there seems to be a lack of continuity between the various specs. We want groups not be working on their own but together.

Pathways to success

  • Create common baselines
  • Clarify ambiguous specifications
  • use transparent development cycles
  • keep an open dialog with the community
  • foster events and networking
  • for browsers, compete on the features and ui not the standard

Q – How much of the frustration is due to the spec and not the implementers keeping up with the spec?

  • MO: for me it’s the implementation, i’d be surprised if someone’s read it.
  • DanC: we need to manage expectations. pointing fingers isn’t where to start. standards orgs are about making the progress predictable.
  • MH: This is all constructive.

Q – Have the standards failed or is the education around them?

  • MH: problems in the specs… but there is a HUGE gap in education.

Q – David Baron (Mozilla): Who decides on the list of standards that we don’t compete on?

  • MH: We have to prioritize what people are using and asking for in the real world.
  • ST: In the marketing world, the highest used is e-mail campaigns. We use 3 levels of tables to get e-mails to render properly.
  • AG: I agree. It’s a chicken and egg. Do you implement before people use it? We need use cases instead of test cases.

Q – Howcome (Opera): We need to standardize the way that we test. There needs to be one acid test… like acid2 test.

  • MH: Acid tests should be done collaboratively and not by one company.

Q – Ann (Boeing): We need native support within the browser. Maybe the acid test.Q – Ian (W3C): We’re already working on a site redesign. We’re talking more and more with developers. We’re talking with a W3C blog. We can’t do all of the ed & outreach ourselves. I’ve been talking to W3C schools. I wanna talk to everyone.

HTML 5 Reading Parties?

With the W3C working on HTML 5, many times I have wondered how I could get more involved. Do I want to get work to add me to the working group and get the 1000 emails a month? Should I start reading the spec and post about it on my blog? Reading the HTML 5 draft spec by myself interests me about as much as trying to read War & Peace. (I think they’re about the same size.)

What about HTML 5 reading parties? We could really do it for any of the W3C Specifications like WCAG 2.0 or CSS 2.1. We could get 5 to 10 people together with a couple cases of beer or nice bottles of wine. If people didn’t want to drink alcohol, we could meet at a coffee shop. We’d each take part of the spec and start reading it.

It’d be a fun and whole lot less intimidating way of jumping head first into the future development of the lingua franca of the Web, HTML.

At the end, we could have some collective notes that we could post on our blogs or maybe one big blog.

So… any of you interested? I’d buy the wine or the first round of coffees.

The W3C CSS Working Group Joins the Blogosphere

I am very pleased to see that the World Wide Web Consortium‘s Cascasding Style Sheet Working Group has decided to join the blogosphere. Hopefully they plan on really utilizing the medium for conversation and transparency and it won’t stay dormant after the first post.

I think all W3C Working Groups should have blogs and update them regularly.  What do you think?