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frankielaguna's avatar

How to teach XHTML, CSS, and PHP?

Asked by frankielaguna (256points) October 20th, 2008

My little brother asked me to teach him XHTML, CSS, and PHP.

I’m not really a teaching type person, meaning I have a hard time figuring out the best way to teach someone how to do something.

I really want to help him out and am wondering what is the best way to go about teaching him the basics?

The way I learned was by tearing apart others code and making it my own, slowly (sometimes quickly) learning what each function was and what it did. A lot of reading on’s awesome documentation.

The upside to that was I learned at my own pace and I feel I have a good idea what I’m doing.
The downside is that sometimes it took me a while to figure out what was going on, also I learned bad programming habits from looking at others bad programming.

I feel that this wouldn’t be a good way to send him since looking back it was hard for me at some points, and I want him to utilize what I’ve learned through the years.

Any ideas?

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3 Answers

skfinkel's avatar

Not having a clue about how to do these things, I think your answer lies in your own experience—you had to go through the challenge of working it out yourself—sometimes it was hard. I don’t know if there are shortcuts to this kind of understanding a subject—any subject. He has to figure it out for himself. You can support him though—and maybe show him where to go, or what to look for. But the hard work—no substitute for that. And that’s also the fun of it. And the feeling of accomplishment.

Vincentt's avatar

I’d suggest to give him a small project that he can execute in parts. First a static webpage, top-to-bottom without styling. Then teach him how to add some styles to it (i.e. change font-size, font-family, color, background, borders, forms perhaps). After that I’d move on to positioning with CSS, e.g. let him add a sidebar. Then, have him add some interactivity using CSS (a guestbook is a very popular starter). Finally, tell him it’s just the tip of the iceberg, advice him to try playing with a PHP framework (great for learning best practices) and come to you if he has questions.

Of course, every step would consist of 1) some basic instructions, 2) have him have a go at it and finally 3) checking what he did and give tips on what he did wrong or could do better.

Oh, and perhaps some words on where to find help (i.e. the PHP manual ;-)) is a great idea as well.

crisedwards's avatar

First, the concepts. Explain the difference between content, style, and queries. Then, let him look at the code of actual simple sites and try to duplicate the idea. I think it’s good to realize what affects the elements. Show him what an unstyled page looks like: it’s just text. Now, how do you make it snazzy? The tutorials that go with WestCiv’s Style Master are excellent and free. I personally use Panic Coda, a Mac-based dev and design app that is dreamy.

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