TITLE: Programming: Don't Knock It Till You Try It AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: August 03, 2016 1:56 PM DESC: ----- BODY: We have a fair number of students on campus outside of CS who want to become web designers, but few of them think they should learn to program. Some give it a try when one of our communications profs tells them how exciting and liberating it can be. In general, though, it's a hard sell. Programming sounds boring to them, full of low-level details better left to techies over in computer science. This issue pervades the web design community. In The Bomb in the Garden, Matthew Butterick does a great job of explaining why the web as a design medium is worth saving, and pointing to ways in which programming can release the creativity we need to keep it alive.
Which brings me to my next topic--what should designers know about programming?
And I know that some of you will think this is beating a dead horse. But when we talk about restoring creativity to the web, and expanding possibilities, we can't avoid the fact that just like the web is a typographic medium, it's also a programmable medium.
And I'm a designer who actually does a lot of programming in my work. So I read the other 322,000 comments about this on the web. I still think there's a simple and non-dogmatic answer, which is this:
You don't have to learn programming, but don't knock it till you try it.
It's fun for me when one of the web design students majoring in another department takes his or her first programming class and is sparked by the possibilities that writing a program opens up. And we in CS are happy to help them go deeper into the magic. Butterick speaks truth when he says he's a designer who does a lot of programming in his work. Check out Pollen, the publishing system he created to write web-based books. Pollen's documentation says that it "helps authors make functional and beautiful digital books". That's true. It's a very nice package. -----