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What is a programmer?
To remove the discussion from female webmasters
olwen

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7312 posted 6:45 pm on Dec 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

I decided to avoid hijacking the female webmaster thread.
many people, myself included, consider HTML, XHTML and CSS programming. They are languages, use keywords and variables (that's what a css selector really is, after all), etc. Your posted code snippet and subsequent comments regarding it imply that you define 'programming' as languages like PERL, PHP or javaScript, but that seems like an awfully narrow definition.

I personally don't consider presentation programming. While writing valid HTML, XHTML and CSS is a skill, and a syntax that takes a bit of learning, it is a different skill from fitting the logic together. I just saw the term coder in another thread, and think that's a good one to describe the skill.

The code involved in doing a for-next loop to extract data for a website is pretty element is pretty elementary programming.

As programming gets more involved more has to be taken into account.
One example is an accounting system where online updating of several tables at once being done by a number of people and you need to ensure that different updates happening at the same time do not affect each other.
Another example from my day job which is more webbased is a routine I built on two webservers. The webserver integrated into our legacy database system is fine for straight HTML. If I want to do any graphing I create a XML output from it and use PHP on an Apache server to built graphs on the fly. When I wrote a page that required a number gor graphs from the same routine I wanted to avoid fetching the XML each time and store it in a temporary file on the Apache server. My PHP graphing routine handles the task of checking if this file exists, creating it if needed, and deleting temporary files more than a day old. The trickiest part was making sure the several instances of the graphing process didn't all try to do the same thing at once.

 

vkaryl

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7312 posted 6:55 pm on Dec 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

That's fascinating, olwen! Programming IS fascinating to me, though I myself am just a coder - MUSH softcode, html, js, css, a dab of php.

The definition I have in my muddled mind for programmer is "one who uses a programming language to construct a program". Using html etc. for websites isn't doing that I think, which is why I call it coding.

rocknbil

WebmasterWorld Senior Member rocknbil us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7312 posted 7:04 pm on Dec 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

IMO any collection of simple computer commands organized to build a more complex function with or without human interaction is my definition of "programming."

HTML, CSS, no, I don't think that's programming. Javascript - absolutely, this "c-like" language is VERY robust.

The dividing line between programmer and dabbler (or initiate, or apprentice, I like the sound of dabbler myself, it suits me) is like anything else, you can figure out a few simple functions and the overall structure of the language to meet your needs, you're probably a dabbler. Knowing the language fully or being able to react with complex tasks without spending a day figuring out how to do it (eek) IMO makes you a programmer.

I'm . . . a knowledgable dabbler. :-) I can make almost any language work to meet my ends and fluently move within most programming languages but I don't think I meet up to the title of programmer.

TheDoctor

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7312 posted 7:11 pm on Dec 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

As a one-time programmer, I was going to say something in the other thread, but held back because I thought it would get things off-topic again. So thanks for splitting off the thread.

Of course, back in the day, I had to continually challenge those who thought that programmers were poeple who wrote code. I particularly resented the term "coding monkey".

My definition went like this: Programmers are people who design the program of events that turns input data into output data. It has been proved that such a program of events can be designed using a structure composed of sequences, iterations and selections. Code is merely the way that the program is described.

I hope this doesn't sound too legalistic, but I think it gets the focus away from the physical activity of writing on a coding sheet - or, more recently, typing on a screen - and onto the mental activity and the not inconsiderable intellectual skills involved in the job.

This is rather different from writing HTML, which, although code, is a different beast altogether. HTML is a mark-up language (which is what the ML stands for). It does not describe the transformation of data. This is not, of course, to take the attitude that designing a web page is inferior to writing a program. It is just different - as I found out when I first tried it (of which, the least said the better).

BTW, I always thought that Olwen was a woman's name. I've never come across it in any other context. Are there any male Olwens?

encyclo

WebmasterWorld Senior Member encyclo us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7312 posted 7:24 pm on Dec 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

See also: [webmasterworld.com...]

olwen

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7312 posted 7:37 pm on Dec 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

BTW, I always thought that Olwen was a woman's name. I've never come across it in any other context. Are there any male Olwens?

Olwen is a female name. There are male Owens (which people confuse), and Alwyns. If people see my handiwriting they sometimes get Oliver as well from it.

PCInk

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7312 posted 8:15 pm on Dec 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

Markup language and programming are two completely different beasts.

Markup language is a structured set of instructions to format a display mechanism. You wouldn't call a rtf file (rich text file) programming, just because you know how to make a word bold. It is more similar to typing in a Word document than programming. Output is static, never classed as dynamic. HTML could also be likened a little to using very old version of WordPerfect - but that was a skill in itself!

Programming is structured set of instructions to be acted upon dynamically. There needs to be mechanisms for conditional statements in any programming language. Output is dynamic and never classed as static.

Then there is the mix. HTML (markup) with JavaScript (Dynamic) which allows a dynamic output - but only if you add the dynamics of JS. HTML writted by Perl/PHP/ASP/ColdFusion/ServerJava is also dynamic and is therefore programming.

Both require a different knowledge and a different skill set. The common misconception is that programmers are more advanced than HTML designers. This is not the case - an advanced HTML designer may have more knowledge and skills than a basic programmer. Of course, a programmer who can also design using HTML/CSS is more advanced than a HTML/CSS only developer.

createErrorMsg

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7312 posted 8:51 pm on Dec 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

Hiya. I'm the one who posted the quoted bit in Olwen's thread starter. After reading your responses, I'll freely admit that my definition was wrong: HTML, XHTML and CSS are not programming.

I was particularly caught by the arguments regarding dynamic and static. There is, indeed, no way to make HTML dynamic without the introduction of a dynamic programming language. This distinction seems pretty significant.

Thanks to Olwen for splitting off this thread.

cEM

iamlost

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7312 posted 8:53 pm on Dec 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

A similar type of thread was recently started by vkaryl in the CSS [webmasterworld.com] forum.

A computer program is a set of instructions that enable a computer to perform a set sequence of operations. A programmer is a person who composes such instructions.

This definition while accurate is very broad and some programmers sneer down their noses at the likes of javascript - sort of like champagne vintners sneering at plonk in a box. Really quite silly.

I agree that markup appears to be "not" programming but in the broadest sense markup is still instruction to a computer to do a specific operation and is therefore programming, however light.

My personal breakdown - generally for the purposes of employment descriptions:

* wet-wiggy: someone who can generate code/script with point/click/drag/cut/paste WYSIWYG editors but not from scratch with a text editor.

* coder: someone who can use HTML and CSS and similar markup languages (from scratch) - surrounding content with "code" enabling a program to transmit and display it with specificity.

* scripter: someone who can use a scripting language, from scratch, in support of a protocol or application.

* programmer: someone who can write and/or translate an algorithm into a computer language to create all or part of a stand-alone computer application or extension to an existing application.

..........

Paraphrasing Jargon File 4.2.0 : 31 JAN 2000 :: a programmer is a person capable of casting magic spells over a computer allowing it to turn one's input into error messages.

twist

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7312 posted 8:53 pm on Dec 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

Well, as this thread has proved, many people have many definitions to describe a programmer or programming language. No matter how you define it, you have little chance of going to a college and signing up for programming 101 and getting a book on (x)html, css or anything of the like.

If, in the other thread, I had stated my definition of a programmer it would have started an entirely different discussion, and in the end it did :)

So instead of telling people in the other thread my idea of what a programmer was, I just added some code. As people can argue to the end of time about what is programming and who is a programmer, the question I asked only had two answers, yes or no. I guess I have been programming to long. I think of things in logical terms. If( answer = you know ) { yes } else { no }. Imagine trying to write the code to define a programmer!

if((( know html + javascript ) && ( not know php )) == and on and on )

I still believe that if a person is truly serious about making websites they will buckle down and learn programming. It's hard for me to take someone seriously as a web/master/developer when they haven't even dedicated enough time to learn at least a little programming. Programming is hard to learn and can be very frustrating, it doesn't seem right a person with no knowledge of it to consider themselves on the same level as someone who took the time and effort to learn it.

This is unofficial definition of a programmer. If you have (a) lost a night of sleep because you had an error in a script and couldn't stop thinking about it or (b) have had dreams where you are writing code.

vkaryl

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7312 posted 9:46 pm on Dec 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

[deleted - I shouldn't be so nasty.... and it doesn't even matter to me personally....]

PCInk

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7312 posted 10:24 pm on Dec 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

HTML is not programming. It is a data structure that is parsed by a program (the browser). There is a difference between parsing and programming.

HTML needs to follow a certain data structure, but it does not allow for any of the basic three things a programming langauge needs:

1) conditions (HTML does not allow these)
2) loops (HTML does not allow these)
3) variables (HTML/CSS does not allow these. Although someone stated that CSS is like using variables it is not. Variables can vary as indicated by the name. CSS is static).

Programming and HTML/CSS are two completely different skill sets.

twist

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7312 posted 10:34 pm on Dec 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

*sigh* twist, your still putting your personal bias on things....

*saw your edit after my post, i removed the main part*

As stated quite a few times, these are my opinions. Just as you are welcome to your opinion.

If you remove the programming from a website, what do you really have? Static pages. Using html and css to create static pages is a pretty short book. There is only so much you can do. If you are referring to the content you are adding to these pages that makes them valuable then you are correct. Content is everything. If you write great short stories and create a static website to illustrate your stories and you get millions of visitors that doesn't make you a great webmaster, that makes you a great writer.

The point I think you are trying to make is it doesn't take a great programming to create a popular or nice looking website. This of course is true, and I would never dispute such a fact. The topic is web/master/developer/designer. In my opinion, to be a great web/whatever you should know a certain amount about creating websites, including programming, which, without it, there would be no websites, internet or computers.

From what I gather, you would prefer that we lump sum anybody that has a website into one category and not differentiate between those that spent time and effort to learn programming and those that didn't. I don't share that opinion. Not everbody that cooks is a chef, not everybody that owns a hammer is a carpenter, and not everybody that has a website (no matter how popular) is a webmaster, in my opinion. If we did call everybody that cooked a chef, then real chefs would have to create a new name for themselves. You would have took all meaning from the word chef. By saying that you don't need any programming skills to be a webmaster you have just took all meaning away from the word. That is half the reason the word holds almost no meaning today.

Triarii

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7312 posted 10:45 pm on Dec 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

This is unofficial definition of a programmer. If you have (a) lost a night of sleep because you had an error in a script and couldn't stop thinking about it or (b) have had dreams where you are writing code.

Your best post on the subject thus far, Twist!

I rarely remember my dreams, so I can' comment on (b) but (a) is something I can intimately relate to.

jatar_k

WebmasterWorld Administrator jatar_k us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7312 posted 10:45 pm on Dec 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm a programmer

and I consider myself thus because

I know a ton of languages interpretable by a computer to create something fancy and powerful.

I also get paid for it and the programming portion of the web is my primary focus.

All these things conspire so that when someone says what do you do for a living I say

"I am a computer programmer"

vkaryl

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7312 posted 10:57 pm on Dec 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

Well, Triarii, I've done both A and B, but I know full well I'm not a programmer!

TheDoctor

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7312 posted 10:18 am on Dec 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

Using html and css to create static pages is a pretty short book.

This is the pantomime season, so: Oh no it isn't! ;)

As I said, I was a programmer by profession. A very good one. I volunteered to deign a web site - for a non-profit organisation - because I thought that my programming skills would mean that I would find the task pretty easy. I was quickly disabused.

Web page design using (X)HTML and CSS is not programming. This doesn't mean that the skills involved in designing a web site - and I'm deliberately saying web site not web page here - are different to the skills involved in designing a program. That does not mean they are trivial in comparison.

Far from the creation of web pages being a "short book", it is a potentially infinite task. (X)HTML/CSS is a powerful mark-up method, and involves a great deal of creativity. If you don't believe me, look in the CSS forum sometime.

HelenDev

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7312 posted 1:44 pm on Dec 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

If( answer = you know ) { yes } else { no }

Shouldn't that be If( answer == you know )? Are you really a programmer?

to be a great web/whatever you should know a certain amount about creating websites, including programming, which, without it, there would be no websites, internet or computers.

In that case, I sincerely hope you are an expert on electromagnetics.

createErrorMsg

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7312 posted 5:45 pm on Dec 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

Using html and css to create static pages is a pretty short book.

Twist, I think you will find it is not the words you are writing but the elitist attitude that is exemplified by the above statement which is driving so many of us to disagree with you, even if we actually agree with what you are saying (which I, it so happens, do not).

For you to call designing with html and css a "short book" merely reveals the fact that you have not spent an appreciable amount of time doing either. That, or you are an incredibly pompous fellow. I don't mean that to be an insult. It's just that every humble web designer I've ever met that knows how to use CSS would never sell that knowledge so short.

cEM

twist

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7312 posted 6:04 pm on Dec 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

Using html and css to create static pages is a pretty short book.

Let me rephrase,

Using html and css to create static pages is a pretty short book compared to a book on programming, since one book on programming would only be a start. You can earn a PhD in computer science. It is quite a broad field of study. One of the things programming can be used for is the web, the only thing (x)html/css can be used for is the web. I am well aware of how complicated and varied a xhtml/css combination can be. I use xhtml and css on all my web pages. All my formatting is done through css. I am not trying to be arrogant or condenscending, I am just saying that I am very familiar with xhtml/css and programming is, without a doubt, much more complicated.

to be a great web/whatever you should know a certain amount about creating websites, including programming, which, without it, there would be no websites, internet or computers.

In that case, I sincerely hope you are an expert on electromagnetics.

I fully agree that without some type of electronics study a person has no deep understanding of computers and how they work. I used to work for a company that made electronic labeling devices for industrial factories and part of my job was soldering together the circuit boards and flashing the chips on experimental units. The co-owner of the company, who was an engineer, would come by often to check on my work and tended to ramble on about his designs and describe the circuitry to me. I know enough about electronics to understand how little I know about electronics. Having a degree in electrical engineering may be quite handy if you do a lot of assembly language or C programming but it wouldn't have much use on high level languages.

I know there is another thread on the definition of web master and trying to describe it would be going well off topic, but if you asked ten people who have worked on the web for a extended amount of time I doubt one would describe electromagnetics as one of the key elements in mastering the web. I think quite a few would have to agree that programming would be a essential in mastering the web though. Actually, even this discussion about programming wouldn't exist without the programmer(s) who wrote BestBBS v3.17.

twist

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7312 posted 7:00 pm on Dec 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

That, or you are an incredibly pompous fellow.

If you were to write a book just on html/css what exactly would it consist of? There is only so many html tags and so many css attributes. Unless you plan on including the history of html and a few biographies what exactly are you going to be putting in a html/css book? There truly is a limited number of things you can do. Sure you could add a section on theory, design ediquette or talk about how the infrastructure of the Internet works, but if you were going to write a book that only talked about the current html/css standards and how to use them on a webpage, it would be a short book. You would be hard pressed to fill a 2,000 page book about html/css without including a ton of filler. You can call me any name you want, this is just a fact and not my opinion.

The reason html/css is so hard is not because it is complicated or advanced. It is so hard because there is no core set of rules or logic that it goes by. Different browsers treat different markup differently. It's actually quite a mess which is why it is so complicated and will sooner or later go the way of the dinosaur. Knowing html/css will someday be as impressive as knowing all the hot-keys in Wordperfect (for those that don't know, not during my time at school, but some schools used to force students to memorize every hot key in wordperfect because, at the time, it was the end all to be all of word processors).

No doubt, sooner or later, a vector based program, something similiar to flash, will become dominate on the Internet. There are simply too many limitations of html/css. This will not effect the programers as, just like html/css, it will just be another tool we use to develop web pages.

*edit*

Just to clarify, once again, before I get burned by the flames. I am making a comparison of html/css to programming. In the original post that started all of this I was curious of the amount of woman who made websites that were also programmers, meaning their websites would probably be more advanced than those that just created websites using html/css and nothing else. I think of programming as a art and html/css as memorization.

I am not, once again not, trying to say that it doesn't take some time to master html/css. Maybe even 1,000 hours of using html/css to become a master at it. I am trying to make the comparison of what it takes to be a programmer next to what it takes to learn html/css.

Yes, html/css may take a person over 1,000 hours to master. Yes, a lot of hard work and time. Yes, a usefull skill to have today. Yes, you should be proud that you spent a lot of time and effort to learn it. Yes your static website may be a great website and may get a lot of visitors.

BUT, a person who has been programming for the same 1,000 hours would probably only be considered a beginner. There are probably only a handful of people in the world who have mastered the art of programming. There are probably tens of thousands who have mastered html/css. For every person that has mastered programming there are 10,000 that have mastered html/css.

So if a person that has spent a few hundred hours learning html/css thinks there going to get the same respect and admiration as a person who, not only probably knows html/css, but on top of that is a programmer then you are sadly mistaken. That is why I was curious of which woman were programmers. Programming is a whole nother ball field all together.

AAnnAArchy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7312 posted 8:31 pm on Dec 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

Twist
So if a person that has spent a few hundred hours learning html/css thinks there going to get the same respect and admiration as a person who, not only probably knows html/css, but on top of that is a programmer then you are sadly mistaken.

Wait, is that what this is all about, looking for admiration and respect? We're supposed to respect and admire people more because they know how to program? Honestly, I respect and admire people who do what they do because they enjoy it and are successful at it. If we were to use your classification, then whoever spends the most hours learning something is somehow a cut above.

If I was hiring a programmer, I'd rather hire someone who knew slightly less, but wasn't riding high on their superiority complex. I prefer to work with people that I admire & respect, for more than just their years of toiling in programming classes.

olwen

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7312 posted 8:52 pm on Dec 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

If I was hiring a programmer, I'd rather hire someone who knew slightly less, but wasn't riding high on their superiority complex. I prefer to work with people that I admire & respect, for more than just their years of toiling in programming classes.

One of my friends said years ago that the best skill a programmer (or other technical person) can have is knowing how to do what they don't know how to do. In other words, figuring out how to do it. This might be teaching yourself a new programming language or other skill, research into how other have done it or developing a new technique.

jatar_k

WebmasterWorld Administrator jatar_k us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7312 posted 8:53 pm on Dec 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

good point olwen

another skill that 90%, or more, of programmers lack is the ability to communicate effectively with non programmers, or at all for that matter.

twist

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7312 posted 3:31 am on Dec 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

Wait, is that what this is all about, looking for admiration and respect?

Nope. Wanting to give admiration and respect where it is due.

This is what you quoted,
So if a person that has spent a few hundred hours learning html/css thinks there going to get the same respect and admiration as a person who, not only probably knows html/css, but on top of that is a programmer then you are sadly mistaken.

Here is what you said,
We're supposed to respect and admire people more because they know how to program?

A good programmer who makes dynamic websites using html/css deservers more respect as a webmaster than someone who only makes static html/css. Yes, that is what I am saying. I would also say, that the person who runs the fastest at the Olympics deserves a gold medal, you may possibly disagree.

If I was hiring a programmer, I'd rather hire someone who knew slightly less, but wasn't riding high on their superiority complex. I prefer to work with people that I admire & respect, for more than just their years of toiling in programming classes.

Here is a tip, go to a college, any college, and find someone who teaches economics. Tell him/her about your plan to hire friendly people that you can relate to instead of people that are more qualified for the job. Wait for them to stop chuckling. Then ask them if they have empty seat in their class.

twist

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7312 posted 3:59 am on Dec 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

another skill that 90%, or more, of programmers lack is the ability to communicate effectively with non programmers, or at all for that matter.

This applies to anybody in any profession. A doctors life is his work, a least a good doctor. Most average people don't want to hear a foot doctor go on for hours about feet just as most people are less than interested about that bug you spent three weeks looking for that you just found.

A few weeks ago my neighbor was at my house and wanted to see what I did for a living. I showed her my website. The first question out of her mouth was, "Whats a fack?" I said, "huh?" She said, "What is a fack?" and pointed to it. I said, "Oh, thats a frequently asked question." She said, "I bet it is, but what is it?"

It's a true story, believe it or not. So, long story short, I almost never talk about what I do to people outside of the industry. Just as I probably should have kept the topic of programming to the php section and not wondered over to the webmaster general section. My biggest mistake was that I assumed that most people that made websites that visited webmasterworld were programmers, but as someone once told me, never assume anything because you make a 'ass' out of 'u' and 'me'.

ronin

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7312 posted 6:09 am on Dec 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

I actually agree with most of twist's comments.

Programming is very different from mark-up.

Actually scripting is very different from mark-up and programming is considerably more elaborate than programming.

But this comment is extraordinary:

By saying that you don't need any programming skills to be a webmaster you have just took all meaning away from the word.

I don't know what programmers think the word webmaster is supposed to mean, but I thought it covered the following:

Writing for the web as a medium
Mark-up and styling
Knowledge of web standards
Knowledge of accessibility guidelines
Knowledge of usability guidelines
Page layout design
Information architecture
Basic graphic design
FTP
Basic SEO
Basic scripting
Basic promotional techniques
Basic data management

There isn't much programming in that, is there?

Bentler

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7312 posted 6:26 am on Dec 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

From html to assembly, it's all programming. No doubt assembly requires different background education and more rigorous problem-solving ability than coding html and there are varying degrees of rigor and abstraction that span the two.

The html end of the programming spectrum blends with artistic and communication thinking (and seo) and the assembly end is pure, abstract logic thinking. Different skills, types of thinking at either end, kind of a mix with web programming & multimedia. Different problems getting evaluated, prioritized and solved. I don't know though...to say one deserves more respect than the other seems narrow-minded and misses the point.

The point is the product, how well the product works and how well the people it's intended to serve like it. If the product is excellent, meets needs at reasonable cost...that is what deserves respect. If it sucks, well then what do you know.... The product might be dynamic or it might not, but what matters is if it's effective in achieving its well-considered purpose. And on the Web, if people can find it in the first place.

moltar

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7312 posted 7:13 am on Dec 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

programmer [google.com]

Sunshyn

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 7312 posted 9:53 am on Dec 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

I don't think I ever really classified writing the backend of a website as general webmaster work. From what I've seen, it's never been very typical for a webmaster to do that, not even according to my experiences back before prepackaged website tools were common. Ronin's list seems to go along with what I think of as a webmaster's typical duties. As a recent post in the ecommerce forum made even clearer to me, very few of us actually write our own carts or order systems, especially not anymore. HTML never seemed to have as many of the "fun" aspects I used to relish in my programming classes and projects back in my high school days.

It's quite probable that many of you won't consider me a programmer. I don't have much experience at all with Apache servers or networks and being a business owner means I don't get to do more than a couple pet projects a year. I'm self-taught in PHP and MySQL, and an aspect of that is that I pick up the parts I need in order to accomplish something, leaving big gaps compared to traditional schooling. However, I do think that what I do with PHP is "real" programming. At least it uses the same skills as my BASIC, COBOL and C+ training. Actually, as much as I enjoyed that "plain old" programming, what I do now is even more fun. The internet aspect adds so much more, like being able to get immediate feedback from my logs and actual usability which has a direct and immediate affect on myself and my business.

Since my tech friend helped me write my shopping cart in the time we had before my old host went belly up, I've revamped just about every aspect of it, written an order status system integrated with shipping notifications, and played with feature and upsell products. One of my proudest projects is my dynamic keyword index, which I also integrated with my search engine just because I was so tired of seeing people missing obvious matches due to misspellings and odd keywords. That endeavor not only made it easier for many customers to find what they were looking for but also gave my search engine rankings a huge boost. Earlier this year, I expanded my order system to include customer accounts and a wishlist system. I'm disappointed that I haven't yet come up with a big project to work on during our slow season this coming year. (Ideas are welcome)

OK, so the above came out as me just bragging. I have almost no contact with people who can appreciate what goes into planning and implementing those types of projects and am mildly curious whether I'd be considered more of a programmer or a dabbler here.

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