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I would like to know if I am expected to memorize coding in a workspace or am I allow to fall into references whenever I am unsure.

In a week of non-stop self learning, I feel I can understand the basics html and CSS, but am I required to memorize every single code once I get a position in this field or is it fair to use references to provide you the edge to finish your development. I was always under the impression you had to hand-code everything but I am wondering if I'll be looked as less of a developer if I fall to references. Understanding that if I do memorize most things, it will save me the time it will take me to code something but I don't want to feel penalized if I need to refer back to a code because I need refresh myself.

This Programmers question held a lot of good answers, but they don't quite fit for me. My role is as a graphic designer/illustrator not a developer, and I am still relative new with how the process works. I'll definitely like a strong input to make sure I go along the right path in my learnings Because HTML and CSS are just a starting point, I want to excel in other areas as well.

Thanks for taking the time to read my post. P.S (if you have any other additional references or advice, I'll gladly appreciate it)

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marked as duplicate by FrustratedWithFormsDesigner, Glenn Nelson, Jim G., MichaelT, GlenH7 Aug 2 '13 at 3:29

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

As an aside, W3Schools is NOT a reliable source. There are much better references out there including MDN and the W3C itself. – Travis Christian Aug 1 '13 at 21:44
Yes I took note of that from the previous poster. I just remembered that website specifically because someone advised it to me on Deviantart. Now I know to stay away from it, plus even when I was reading it, I noticed a lot of outdated information. – Lawrence S Aug 1 '13 at 22:00
@TravisChristian: reference material and learning material have clearly different goals. While the W3C and MSDN are great when you need to reference some specific point of detail, there is a lack of scope and contiguous direction when attempting to learn a technology stack. IME, w3schools is an excellent learning resource. OP: Don't be discouraged. – Steve Evers Aug 1 '13 at 22:41
@SteveEvers I would imagine the reason they would say to say stay away from W3schools is because it's outdated information. Noticed it myself when I was reviewing even though I am still getting my feet wet in the pudddle. However, I think it's okay or a beginning concept, but I am now looking at other websites, such as Htmldog, W3C wiki, Sitepoint, Webplatform. Of course if you guys have any recommended books for me to read, I'll gladly appreciate that – Lawrence S Aug 2 '13 at 0:05
up vote 1 down vote accepted

You don't need to waste time memorizing the precise particulars of any computer language. learn the basic syntax, get a handle on your defence documentation, and start creating. Memorization will occur by itself, as you find yourself remembering the details of css or html after looking them up for the Nth time.

Do get in the habit of doing small things yourself to observe behavior and result, though. In both markup and programming, too often I've seen things done by rote or by guessing, instead of doing a clean test to ensure the basic behavior is as expected.

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Programmers are not human encyclopedias. We remember what we use often, and we keep actual encyclopedias nearby for what we don't. I consider myself a "veteran" C# coder, and there are things I Google every day to do my job. That's probably one of the hallmarks of a veteran; that he knows what he doesn't know, and where to find it.

The only reason you'd memorize as much technical detail you could is for the same reason any grade-schooler would; to pass an upcoming test. MS certification tests are full of this kind of crap, requiring you to memorize the order of parameters of obscure built-in method calls you typically code once, in a general-purpose library, before moving on to more interesting things. This is one of the reasons I don't like certification tests and don't think the resulting titles are worth much; all they prove is that you have managed to ingrain into your brain the same knowledge the IDE itself could tell you in two seconds.

What you usually need to know, given a basic intuitive grasp of how to program, are the basic rules around whatever language you're studying; structure, syntax, formatting and naming conventions, and a few best practices. That allows you to read code in that language, and to maintain it. From there, the reference books or online resources will tell you what the code doesn't, and that's what else you could do.

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Learn the building blocks and how to use them, and it translates to every language. A For/Next loop is the same concept in every language, only the words/symbols you use to implement them differs. – JohnP Aug 1 '13 at 21:20
In that case, do you believe there's a point in certification then Keith? or does it depend on what you're working with. Right now, my goal is to stick with web design. – Lawrence S Aug 1 '13 at 21:24
I think it does depend what you're working with. Most programmer certifications aren't worth it IMHO, unless by getting one you unlock certain perqs (MS certifications are the gateway to Microsoft Gold Partner status, which gives you deep discounts on software license subscriptions). Certain types of network certs, like Cisco's CCNA/CCIE, are practically expected for positions like network/systems administrator. – KeithS Aug 1 '13 at 23:34
Ah I see, eventually I'll want to maybe get into phone application design or something with video games, but as I mentioned, for now I'll just like to get edge as a designer with building websites since many listings now require graphic designers to know "html,css,javascript" as a base, sometimes even more demanding with other things but I think that's pushing it then. I am looking to mainly stick within the creative field of development, Thanks for your response :) – Lawrence S Aug 2 '13 at 0:01
Funny this came up, we discussed this at work the other day. I am a 24 yo developer who has been employed as a C# dev for 6 years. I am surrounded by people older than me.. and none of them can remember a time when they didn't Google work related subjects every single day. I do it.. all the time. Probably more than a few times a day. It blows my mind that devs couldn't do that once upon a time. – Simon Whitehead Aug 4 '13 at 13:27

I'm not entirely sure there's a question here, but I'll take a stab at it.

  1. This is a profession. Some of us have been at this for 30+ years and are still learning. What's a week compared to that?
  2. The code (syntax, language, rules, etc) is easier to remember with practice. Someone experienced with Photoshop can probably fly through that app 1000 times faster than I can. Why should this be different?
  3. Build something small using only a few tools (perhaps just html & css for starters). Learn from it, then build something bigger.
  4. Repeat #3 a lot.
  5. Ask a lot of good questions. See and What have you tried? for some good info on how to ask a good question (hint: it's really hard, but important)
  6. Repeat #5 a lot
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Well we're always learning, regardless of the experience, I just wanted some input from people who are actually working in the field, not a question "if" the learning stops, because it never can be stopped. Thanks for your input. Yes, I find it a bit easier to understand since my comfortable programs are photoshop, illustrator and indesign. – Lawrence S Aug 1 '13 at 21:21
Whereas I'm absolutely hopeless in photoshop, illustrator, & indesign. Be patient and keep at it. Nothing is "unlearnable". – Dan Pichelman Aug 1 '13 at 21:25
Thank you! Definitely patient about it :) – Lawrence S Aug 1 '13 at 21:33

Programmers’ virtues include lazyness. HTML and CSS are not programming, but the same principle applies. Learn to use specifications and reliable references. Stay out of w3chools; see

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Thank you for that link, I'll definitely look at those sources, I had several e-books but I figure actually actually tangling with some work would be the best way to learn, I mean that's how art is achieved, you practice every day. – Lawrence S Aug 1 '13 at 21:18
Lazy developers don't last long in my experience. The laziest have all but failed.. very quickly. – Simon Whitehead Aug 4 '13 at 13:29

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