Dave Gash: CSS Novice to Ninja Workshop Report

In early November, San Diego-based software professional Dave Gash made his 21st trip down under, to present a series of workshops throughout the country. Dave is pretty legendary in the technical communication space. He’s a technical communicator for Google, a trainer, ex-developer, conference presenter, and all round web technology expert. Apparently he’s also written a novel!

I’m a big fan of Dave and have attended many of his conference presentations, workshops, and webinars. I know he’ll always deliver interesting content, present new tools and technologies, and give me something I can use in my day-to-day job or at least muck around with in my own time. Also, I can guarantee I’ll never be bored at one of his presentations.

The workshop “CSS Novice to Ninja” was no exception. While I was neither a Novice to start with, or a Ninja by the end of this workshop, I still found it extremely valuable and fascinating.

I’ve been dabbling in CSS for many years now, but have never fully grasped the concepts and terminology. I prefered to borrow others’ code and tweak it until I was happy with the result. I’m sure I’ve wasted many hours on this inefficient method and was therefore really pleased to see Dave offer a comprehensive and detailed break-down of some key CSS concepts and terms. I now feel quite at home with selectors, classes, pseudo-classes, pseudo-elements, and the methods of coding these.

Dave’s workshop was divided into five parts: Intro, Novice, Intermediate, Advanced, and Ninja. This took us on a CSS journey, from the basics of what CSS controls and how it fits with HTML, into the details above, a brief look at colours and fonts, and then into the cool and interesting things you can do with CSS. Dave challenged us with a quiz at the end of each part, and then let us loose on some HTML and CSS files to edit and practice on. I particularly enjoyed these ‘labs’ as we got the opportunity to see the results of our coding and to make mistakes and figure out how to fix them. Dave was always on-hand to help out but it was also great to see all participants helping each other and working together.

In between all this hard work was a delicious morning tea, lunch, and afternoon tea as well as a selection of hot beverages. Thank you Emma Harding for organising the excellent food and providing a fantastic venue for the workshop in Christchurch.

Although our group comprised a mix of CSS newbies through to quite experienced coders, I think everyone got a lot of value out of this workshop. For me, the greatest benefit was in being forced to learn the theory and to be inspired by the cool new things you can achieve with CSS. I’ll certainly be taking the time to play with CSS variables, web fonts, tooltips, thumbnail images, and transitions.

We were delighted to receive feedback from Jody Winter, who attended the workshop in Auckland, and Joan Nanartowicz, who attended in Christchurch:

“The workshop was fantastic. Well worth the investment. Dave is such an engaging presenter. I learned so much and totally nerded out on the weekend tweaking my CSS with amazing results!

I probably don’t say this often enough, but I am so proud to be a TechCommNZ member and that TWs in New Zealand have such an incredible professional association.”

Jody Winter

“The workshop was a comprehensive overview of CSS and syntax. I’m now much more confident with the latest CSS. I’d say this workshop is a must for anyone who uses html and CSS.”

Joan Nanartowicz

If you’re interested in CSS, there are so many great resources and tutorials out there. A good place to start is WC3 Schools, and their CSS tutorial. I’d also like to point you in the direction of Dave’s page on medium. You may also be interested in Google’s Web Fonts.

Down here in Christchurch we were fortunate to also get an in-person repeat of Dave’s massively popular webinar: CSS colours demystified. You can get an in-depth review of Dave’s webinar here, but we of the Christchurch branch can vouch for Dave’s presentations being even better in person. His presentations have been described as “entertraining” – and I can certainly say I was entertained, and engaged, the whole way through.

Thanks Dave for sharing your knowledge and passion. I hope to see you back in the country soon.

Meredith Evans, President TechCommNZ


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