Note: One from the lost archives with some new content added for relevance today.
I was browsing the Sitepoint forums trying to get some ideas about what I could write about when I came across a thread that talked about major sites using CSS. Half-way down the page I come across this statement:
Tables are so much easier to use. Why would anyone want to move to something harder.
I have no problem with this argument. In fact I would agree that in some situations developing with tables could be easier. My problem is the fear that is laced within the statement.
I hate to generalize, but the majority of old management type people I have come across fear change. They like being settled into a routine that they know they can handle. The same can be said about designers who like to only work with tables. They learned to design using tables and find no reason to change. The problem is that it is hard not to change when the rest of the world is changing around you. For anyone who works in computers there should never be a day where you believe you have learned everything possible. This is why I love computers because I know there is always something new I can teach myself. You cannot fear the unknown, but you must learn to embrace it or you will be left behind.
For the older crowd out there do not fear the young people because you think they will take your jobs. If you are constantly teaching yourself new technologies then you should have nothing to worry about because most of the time you already have a headstart and real world experience. Just do not be scared to keep moving.
If you are a designer who loves to only work with tables because that one time you did try CSS it just didn’t work out then keep doing what you do. Do not get mad however in a couple of years when everyone else is getting the work you think you should be getting. Major sites are already moving their sites over to CSS. The business benefits really are too hard to ignore. Imagine the bandwidth savings Yahoo would get if they moved to CSS.
It is one thing to just jump on every new technology that comes out. That is plain ignorance. But when major companies and most major designers have been moving towards CSS for a couple of years now, it would be foolish to not start tweaking your Knowledge Portfolio to include CSS and all of its benefits.
COBOL was and in many cases still the defacto programming language for business mainframes. I have never come across a twenty-something COBOL programmer. One reason may be that they do not seem to be in high demand and another is that the language is something you just do not hear about anymore. All the COBOL programmers that I know are 40+ years old and the only reason they still program in COBOL is because 1. They have job security or 2. They fear moving to something else because COBOL is what they have been doing. My point is that there are a lot of COBOL programmers out of a job because they feared the unknown. They could not see Java catching on in the business world. It is not like they missed the boat because the boat sits there until you are ready to get on. It is your job to get on.
Learning a new language or technology is like learning to use a new tool. You know the end result that you want to achieve and have been getting that result for 20 years with COBOL. However, what if you find that Java is a better tool for the job and can cut your production time in half. To be honest you would be foolish not use that tool. As someone in the computer industry you should know that for any job you should use the best tools for the job. That is why we have so many programming languages to work with because someone thought they could come up with a better tool. The more tools you learn how to use the better off you will be.
I have a pretty broad technology portfolio. The reason I do is because I love to learn new stuff. When XML first came out I saw the benefits that it had and began diving into the language. The same with Java and PHP. Fortunately, my love for learning new technologies also happens to make me more attractive to our clients. Being scared to learn something new is as foolish as being scared to make money.
CSS is here to stay. XML is here to stay. If you are a web designer you should make it obligatory that you learn these technologies. If you are a Java or C# programmer why not learn some Python and see how it can increase certain parts of your production. See how they can help make your job easier both now and in the future. If you become too scared to learn new things then you are too scared to grow and to be honest if in the future you cannot find work then usually you only have yourself to blame. Love to learn new things even if you already know Ruby and Rails.