Quick Fire with Jeff Croft
Some of you may have read his successful books. Others might keep track of him via his popular blog. Nevertheless, Jeff Croft is one of the leading advocates of web standards today. In this quick fire, Jeff will answer everything from his favorite music to his "web development pet peeves". Enjoy!
Who Is Jeff Croft?
Jeff has been working on the web for over 12 years. He began his career as a web designer in 1995, using SimpleText on Macintosh System 7 and Netscape 1.1N as his development environment. Since then, he has worked in several industries, bringing modern web design and development to places where you don’t always find it, including education and journalism. Beyond his work for Blue Flavor, Jeff is a blogger, author, speaker, critic, and industry thought leader.
What City Do You Live In?
I consider Seattle, WA home these days. However, I am temporarily living near where I grew up, in Kansas City, MO, to tend to some personal matters. Hopefully I'll be back in Seattle soon.
Your Job Title?
My title is Designer, but I also also do a decent amount of development.
Hmm. Mexican. And seafood. And Mexican with seafood. :)
Music Of Choice?
I studied music (specifically jazz) in college and sort of learned to like just about everything. But, my favorites genres are what I would call "black
music." Jazz, blues, R&B, soul, funk, hip-hop, etc.
Favorite Web Dev Book That You Didn't Write?
I read a lot more general design books than web development books, but if I'm going to pick a webdev book, I would have to be obvious and choose Designing
With Web Standards, by Jeffrey Zeldman. Sure, almost everyone's read it by now, but it's the closest thing we have to a bible.
Who Are Your Web Development Heroes?
There are so many. I consider Mike Davidson to be a mentor, of sorts. He's helped me along more than he probably knows. And of course we all owe a lot to
some of the pioneers of web standards and CSS, including Jeffrey Zeldman, Dave Shea, and Eric Meyer. There are so many great people doing work on the web
today, there's no way I could name them all.
Your Pet Peeve?
Hmm. I'm a pretty laid back guy -- not too much bothers me. But if I have to choose a pet peeve, I'd say it's people apologizing when they don't need to, and
therefore don't mean it. I hate it when people say they're sorry all the time. Grow a sack!
Your Web Development Pet Peeve?
I would say my biggest pet peeve related to the industry would be people focusing on technology instead of design, standards instead of users, and validation
rather than innovation. Web standards and best practices are noble goals, but all too often in our community people forget they are a means to an end, not
the end itself.
What is Your Most Embarrassing Experience as a Web Developer?
I'm not sure if it really qualifies as "embarrassing," but probably my most regretful moment in my career was when I wrote a blog post that, when read by
others, seemed to imply that I had some objection to British folks. It was an attempt at humor gone horribly wrong, and I upset many of my English friends.
It was tough to deal with, because I really love all those people. Hell, London is my favorite city in the world! :)
Most Fulfilling Experience as a Web Developer?
I would say my most fulfilling experiences are meeting new people at conferences and industry events. I love exchanging, knowledge, I love meeting people, I
love traveling, and I love this industry. I just get a real kick out of being around a bunch of new people that are passionate about the same things I am. A
lot of times at these events, I feel part of something a lot bigger, and that's an awesome feeling.
Open Source Flash Or CSS?
Whichever is more appropriate for the job at hand. I'm a CSS guru of sorts, and I'm not much of a Flash programmer. So, I'm probably going to choose CSS most
of the time. But, Flash is a great technology that, when used responsibly, can be the perfect solution to many problems.
Ignore IE5 When Developing? Ignore IE6??
Ignore IE. Period. :)
Okay, that's probably not fair. Again, it boils down to the situation at hand. What browsers you're going to fully support is a business decision first, and
a technology one second. You have to make that business decision on a case-by-case basis.
The question says, "when developing." Well, "when developing," I personally never use any version of IE. I feel much more comfortable developing in a browser
that is more reliably accurate when it comes to rendering things by the spec, and also a browser that has better debugging tools available. Personally, I use
Safari, but Firefox is clearly a good choice, as well.
What Technologies are you Excited About?
Django (http://djangoproject.com). The beauty of working in Django has made it hard for me to build a website any other way, these days. The fact that I have
infinite control and flexibility; that I can do *whatever* I want and not ever have the limitations of some CMS imposed on me; the fact that everything feels
so elegant and clean, and done the "right" way. Everything about Django and Python feels like it was made for a designer who my philosophy: that things
should be robust and powerful and subscribe to best practices, but never at the expense of being useful and usable.
I'm also really excited about @font-face font embedding, which finally feels like it may actually take off. It's nowhere near ready-for-primetime yet, but it
might finally have the momentum behind it to get us there eventually.
Mac or PC?
Most Used Software when Developing?
TextMate. Photoshop. Subversion. That's about it.
Most irritating Client Question?
I don't know if I can pick one question, but the most irritating things a client can do are:
- Ask you to design their site, and then be unwilling to relinquish any degree of creative control.
- Decide their budget or timeframe is more important than quality.
Both of these things lead to a situation where the only choices are to terminate the relationship or produce something that sucks. I'm usually unwilling to
produce something that sucks.
New Book in the Works?
I can neither confirm nor deny rumors that I may be working on a book about web typography. ;)
Best Advice for New Developers
For developers: get with the latest technologies, and don't fall behind. Get with modern, dynamic languages like Ruby and Python. Get out of your God-forsaken PHP rut, already. :)
For designers: learn about *design*. Remember that design is all about storytelling and communication, and not at all about writing good CSS or making cool
gradients. Learn about layout, color, and typography. Get over the idea that you're an artist. You're not. We do commercial work so that people can make
money. It's not art, and you'll do better work once you realize it.
Purchase His Books!
Pro CSS Techniques
Pro CSS Techniques is the ultimate CSS book for the modern web developer. If you've already got web design and development basics under your belt, but want to take your knowledge to the next level and unleash the full power of CSS in your web sites, then this is the book for you. It is a collection of proven CSS techniques that you can use daily to get the most out of the time you spend on your projects, from start to finish.
Web Standards Creativity
The topics range from essential CSS typography and grid design, effective styling for CMS-driven sites, and astonishing PNG transparency techniques, to DOM scripting magic for creating layouts that change depending on browser resolution and user preference, and better print layouts for web pages.
Having read both of these books, I highly recommend them! Thanks again to Jeff for giving us this interview! Comment away.
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