Last Friday was another one of those excellent days. Part of it was that I managed to solve a tricky problem (determine the probably a person was on a certain type of vehicle depending on the characteristics of that person). Mostly it was the work I’m doing on my new search program to deal with Sharp Floor. The program is mostly done, although I keep thinking of things that need to be implemented. So I’m mostly working on the documentation. This is the thing that the contractors for Sharp Floor built their business plan around avoiding, and it made my day.
Why did it make my day? Since I’ve been teaching myself web development these past few months, I decided to do the documentation in HTML. That allowed me to cross link the different sections, which is very useful when explaining parts of a complicated program that interact with each other. Now, I’ve known basic HTML since I got on the Internet back in the early 90s. But basic HTML looks horrid. While I am a function over form kind of guy, that does not mean I eschew form.
But I’ve also been learning CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). Using CSS I can put in the styling and formatting I’m looking for. I can have more control over it too, if I am willing to put the work into the HTML. And since I am specifying it completely myself, I can’t get around what Microsoft Word wantsto do and go directly to what I want to do. In addition, it’s all more compact than what Word produces.I’ve seen the markup from Word’s RTF output, it’s an insane mess of garbage. HTML (at least mine) is nice and clean, so that you can understand what is going on from the raw file without any styling or formatting. As a comparison, the Word version of this file is 12k, while the HTML version is 4k, a savings of 75% for the same content.
One of the other things I’m doing at working is preparing a paper on reading XML into SAS for the next NESUG conference. I saw a paper on this at the last NESUG, but it was all about using a GUI provided by SAS to set up the translation. It glossed over the very details I was interested in. My paper gets into the nitty gritty of writing the XML to translate other XML into SAS. All of which you can do in a text editor, getting around the GUI middle man.
The HTML and the XML combined into a realization for me, and I decided that my new motto should be”If you can’t do it in a text editor, it’s not worth doing.” However, I did a web search on that phrase and found some idiotic rant about “Real Programmers” including such garbage as “Real Programmers don’t use comments. The code is obvious.” I don’t want to come off asthat arrogant and pretentious. So I revised my new motto as “Give me a text editor or give me death.”. Melodramatic is always better than prententious.
The first problem I ran into with this idea was spreadsheets. I’m an Excel addict. I am lured by it’s quick and easy analysis, and not fooled by the haters who think a tool must be idiotic just because they saw an idiot using it. But I thought about it, and look at the spreadsheets I use heavily. I realized that I could do it all with Python and MySQL, or PHP and MySQL once I get further into my web development studies. At least I can do that at home, where I installed a WAMP Server on my laptop while I’m studying web development. Work may be another issue, but it always is.
Of course, this meant I had to upgrade my text editor. I went back and forth on it, but I’ve been well under budget so far this year, and I lost the license key for my current version, which is three years old, so I can’t install it on my net book. So I went ahead and upgraded, and this is the first post written in the new version.
And of course, WordPress screwed up all the HTML.