It’s 20 years to the day since I started my web career (and indeed my first full-time job). 16th November 1999. 

Last millennia. 


I started as a ‘Web Development Assistant’ (and something about Sales) at Macmillan Publishers in London. 

Here’s the first website I’ve worked on.

I had no idea what I was doing, but rather fortunately it was still relatively early days for the web, so easier to get a job in it through enthusiasm and willingness to learn. 

We had Internet Explorer 4. Netscape Navigator 4.7. No mobile. Google wasn’t something people had really heard of yet. Wayyy pre-social networks. Many people still thought it (the web) was a fad. 

See what it was like, it was wild. http://oldweb.today/

This was a typical day for me back in 1999 (on a giant beige Dell desktop with CRT monitor)

  • Processing online orders  – our e-commerce platform went like this – a form sent an email to me, I would phone the person up, take the credit card number enter the details into a Word form, print it out then through internal post send it to Basingstoke to be processed by another person using a system built in the 1970s.
  • Tech support for some of our online products (online encyclopaedias, lol). Including a memorable time when I spent the best part of an hour a day training an 80 year old on the fundamentals of computing and the internet (he expected the online encyclopaedia to appear when he turned on the computer)
  • Updating the website, via FrontPage 98. Editing files LIVE on the server. 
  • Creating GIFs for new products / menu items in full 216 dithered GIF Technicolor. And 640 pixel wide monitors
  • Learning HTML/CSS from my boss, who was awesome and very patient. 
  • The day I started work as a Web Development Assistant is also the day I sent my first ever email.

Things have changed somewhat, although some of it hasn’t, I still try and keep learning, I still update the live server 😉

I didn’t even know what my profession really was until I started looking for a new job after 8.5 years in Publishing. Turned out front-end developer was closest to what I enjoyed.

Since then I’ve worked on many many many websites, I left publishing and worked in an exciting and forward thinking agency for 4.5 years, with some of the smartest, most creative people in the industry, and learned a ton. 

I’ve travelled round the world helping people understand their needs and translating them into working sites. 

I then created my own company, Dogwonder Ltd. in 2012 and have spent the time since then working directly with awesome companies, people and collaborators. 

I’ve enjoyed having the opportunity to connect with people though building websites. Clients big and small, colleagues of all kinds, family, friends, communities and my wife. The internet connects us all. 

I am still building websites. I really didn’t think from that point 20 years ago that I would or even could still be building websites. And I still love it. It’s a constant journey of learning and understanding and  I feel very privileged to be able to be able to do it. 

Job title now – no idea. I build websites. 

We went from static websites (remember Movable Type) to database driven (WordPress) / restful API (Ruby on Rails) back through to static sites again. We went from static designs to responsive websites, with the advent of mobile. 

Lots has changed but also lots hasn’t. Building websites that work for the user, allowing them to get done what they need to get done, whilst making sure that the widest number of people, devices and browsers can access them have been core all the way through 20 years. As I was starting web standards was becoming a thing, it still seems very very relevant today, sure things can be improved, but we should never forget the fundamentals, build good stuff that works well for as many people as possible.

I think now one of my biggest concerns is someone starting their journey today. I see an industry where some of the players have put up barriers, making the learning curve and steps massive before you can even render ‘hello world’ in a browser. It isn’t as accessible as it should be and that makes me sad. It’s an amazing job, and we shouldn’t be making it harder to start.

But I digress. It’s been a great 20 years, and feel very privileged to have been able to work in this industry.

15 years!

Today marks the anniversary of the day I launched this site. 15 years ago! That’s like a century in internet time, maybe an epoch or two.

2004 preceded YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and well, pretty much everything that we understand of the web today. I didn’t post here for many years indeed preferring those platforms and the communities that went with them.

But I am glad I kept this space, with the social networks’ nut-jobs, trolls, privacy issues and overall forced curation, I am increasingly happy I still have my own space to express my thoughts.

Even if no-one reads any of it, I have 15 years of my stuff safely stashed away and no internet giant can decide to ‘retire that functionality’.

This is my house.

JS Week(ish)notes 1.3

So this is not exactly weekly now, and isn’t likely to be, project work and life means can’t always spend ages learning. But nearly got to the end of Vanilla JavaScript Pocket Guides and it’s excellent, really like the course tutor’s approach Chris Ferdinandi. He also has an excellent newsletter with really handy tips and a superb helper library and reference section. It covers a lot of groups as my first course. But I feel I need to run through this a few times to really get the fundamentals.

Functions are methods are functions! At last!! One of the things I always got confused with JS was the inoperability of the terms, so confusing. But sort of getting that everything is an object and just going with it has helped me.

At the end of each course there is a little project to work along with, which has been fun. We built a little lazy loader, a little JSON parser, and a extendable plugin using the Constructor pattern (always with a capital letter!). Overall I am really getting the way things should be structured, and the Constructor pattern seems to be really powerful. So for example:

	//Because the plugin uses a constructor pattern, capitalise the plugin name, too, for consistency.
    var TableOfContents = (function () {

        'use strict';

    	// To improve the performance of your plugin, you should only include things that are unique to each instance in the constructor, and move everything that can be shared across instances outside of it. 
        // Public Variables
        // Default settings - same of every instance
    	var defaults = {
    	// Public Methods
    	var getID = function (elem) {


    	// Setup the constructor - uppercase first letter - 
        var Constructor = function () {
    		// Variables
    		var publicAPIs = {};
    		var headings, toc, settings;

    		// All the rest of the code...

    		// Return the Public APIs

    		return publicAPIs;	


        // Return the constructor
        return Constructor;


    // Run the script and initiate with the new operator
    var toc = new TableOfContents();

    //instantiating a second table of contents
    var secondaryTOC = new TableOfContents(); 						
		target: '#secondary-toc' 

And finally I am starting to get scope. Starting.

Overall it’s been great, but a lot of theory (with practical applications), and we at the end of the course we touched on state, routing and reactivity, so a nice primer for my overall aim of moving towards something like React.

I am starting to use some of this in real world projects but it’s really slow going, as I hit barriers and don’t know how to get around/over/smash through them outside of a nicely ring-fenced tutorial. But my next course is going to be 30 day coding challenge as I feel I need to really dive into actual use-cases now.

JS Weeknotes 1.2

I finished my first course! JavaScript: Understanding the Weird Parts Actually think I am starting to get this 🙂

This week I learned about Function constructors (and the ‘new’ keyword), Prototypal inheritance, Method chaining, Libraries (specifically jQuery). It was pretty hardcore, I have to keep googling Prototypal inheritance and have struggled to get my head around it, also the two prototypes have totally spun me out, why use the same word!

I *think* I sort of get it, an objects prototype is like a template for the object (and another object) [so many objects], which we can then create new objects from that inherit those properties and methods.

I find the word soup a bit of a problem generally with learning (I’ve failed most coding tests I’ve done), I am starting to realise I am much more of a practical / visual learner, using the specific terms just jumbles my head.

var dogwonder = new Website( // );

We also had a few lectures on jQuery which was really interesting, looking at the unminified code and seeing how it actually works with what we learned so far was fascinating. And also understanding why jQuery is so important, it fixes and has refined so many things and has been perfected over many years so you know that there are certain functions that work across a huge range of devices and browsers. Also there is a library in jQuery! Sizzle! Which does most of the class selection stuff, who knew?! We even wrote a mini-framework call ‘greetr’. See the pen here.


Now onto my next course! Vanilla JavaScript Pocket Guides

JS Weeknotes 1.1

So this week I learnt mostly about closures, execution contexts, callbacks and functional programming. Returning functions from my functions, giving my functions functions, accessing function variables outside the function. All in all it was a bit of a recursive captain my captain moment. I am really starting to see the raw power of JS. 


Also how libraries like underscore.js can help us supercharge our code and give us functions and helper sprinkles. Although part of my journey was about going back to fundamentals before launching into react so it’s interesting to how quickly I am back to dependencies. Like yeah I get it why build out a ton of helpers which I might get wrong when I can type 

 .each([1, 2, 3], alert);

All for a payload of 6.5kb in minified code. 

But as mentioned in the course, all of underscore.js is available as annotated source code so we can understand what’s going on at a fundamental level and indeed learn along with it. 

My head is hurting this week and some of the concepts we learned were quite overwhelming. But already when looking at my own code I seem to be reading it clearer understanding the structure better rather than a string of letters and punctuation. 

JS Weeknotes 1.0

As per previous post 👇I am starting with JavaScript: Understanding the Weird Parts it’s really good so far, it goes right back to the beginning with fundamental concepts behind Javascript. Which I never really engaged with until jQuery and only really then just chained loads of stuff together until I got the result I wanted (usually peppered with various jQuery(document).ready(function($) {}); and randomly adding closing brackets to get code working). So it’s been perfect for me to really understand what’s happening on the hood. I am about 40% through now and so far we’ve been looking at things like Execution Context, Functions, Variables, Objects, Object Literals and Arrays. And as much as I recognised the code structures I don’t think I ever really learnt what they were from the ground up, more from the top down (copy/pasting code examples) so have never felt comfortable writing this from the ground up. It’s also confusing (JavaScript not the course), everything is everything else — operators are functions are objects are functions are code. 1 + ‘hello’ is fine, and true == “true” is false and if something is !undefined it’s true. Gah.

So first takeaway is really that, my usual practice would be to search Stack Overflow find a solution and tweak it to my own issue. Which is fine, and I will probably carry on doing that till the heat death of the universe. BUT….but, with that approach it’s always that, adapting something to another need that might not always be appropriate or maybe even overkill.

Which leads onto my second takeaway, my over reliance on frameworks. jQuery is amazing and made writing javascript for the fractured web (Netscape anyone?) possible and without it I doubt Javascript’s dominance would be anywhere near where it is today…but it’s become a bit of a oversized clutch for me. Include it on every project even if said project needs only one or two functions, one of the most common one’s I include is the below:

jQuery('a[rel*=external]').click( function() {
             return false;

Like why do I even need jQuery, it’s vanilla JS! But I wouldn’t question it, jQuery inclusion was a given. Even only scratching the surface of this course has lead me to question what I actually need for each project. And as a timely reminder I saw this a few days ago.

So on my most recent project I didn’t include jQuery. I only needed two functions, setCookie() and toggleSearch(). That’s it 2KB. Versus 87KB (v.3.3.1). For basically the same thing. Now saying that those two functions did take me some time, even as simple as they were (mostly down to trial and error, also managed to accidentally enqueue the JS file at the top of the page). Anyway here is what is probably my first (intentional) vanilla JS function sans framework.

function toggleSearch() {

    var searchbtn = document.getElementById('search-button');
    var searchForm = document.getElementById('search-form');

    searchbtn.addEventListener('click', function (event) {
    }, false);


It’s no work of art 👨‍🎨… but it’s quite a philosophical shift for me. Onward.


2019 is my 20th year of web development. Well, in 1999 I started updating a corporate website’s sales page via MS Frontpage Express 🤓 live on the server 👻. And at that point that was basically web development right?

Throughout my career, I have been self taught, and have had to learn continuously to keep apace with modern techniques. Non tabular standards based HTML. CSS 2 and 3. Responsive web design. jQuery. PHP (WordPress). Grunt/Gulp/Node. As well as many dead and dying frameworks and platforms.

But over the last couple of years I’ve been aware of one part of my skillset has been lacking. Namely modern Javascript frameworks in the form of React, VUE, Angular. Generally speaking I’ve not really needed much in the past as regards JS, this website has two functions, toggle the search form and set a cookie (for the cookie notice). Some websites use a lot more, but it’s often that sort of thing and I’ve been able to get away with a moderate if not very efficient knowledge of jQuery. Often my approach to writing JavaScript is akin to French philosophy, verbose, dense and often self-referential. It works, but I am always aware it could be better. And it always bugs me how long it takes sometimes to do something that seems simple in my head. I also am intrigued as to the general discussions around React CSS-in-JS, modules and overall methodology (test-driven development, node, deployment).

So for 2019 I am going to embark on learning JavaScript more thoroughly, building up to React (I know VUE and Angular have many benefits but React seems to be edging it for me). I originally decided though to learn ES6 first, as I wanted to understand better the fundamentals rather than dive straight into a framework with little understanding of what’s going on under the hood. Saying that, when I started the ES6 course (ES6 for everyone – Wes Bos) I was a little out of my depth straight away so decided to take it back a step and start with JavaScript fundamentals (JavaScript: Understanding the Weird Parts).

Anyway, I aim to update this site as to my progress, hopefully weekly, or there about. I don’t expect this to be easy but if we don’t continue to learn we don’t grow 🚀

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