But W3Schools also carries some of the most easy-to-use indexes of pretty much everything related to web development. Can't remember the exact name of that CSS property and its possible values? Can't remember the order of arguments of a JS string/array function? Go to W3Schools and browse their lists, get the answer in 5 seconds.
Of course, there's Mozilla Developer Networks, too. But MDN's CSS Reference  is just an alphabetical list of CSS properties with no explanation. W3Schools' CSS Reference  is neatly categorized, and each entry has a short explanation next to it. Very useful when you're trying to remember, for example, "word-wrap: break-word", which is not the same as "word-break: break-all".
W3Schools is good ol' Web 1.0 stuff. Just some lists and a bunch of links. No need to ask somebody and wait for an answer. No need to watch any annoying videos. No need to follow an animated tutorial designed by someone who thinks they know how a person should learn programming. W3Schools is like an old dictionary. A dictionary isn't particularly helpful when you're trying to learn a foreign language properly, but it's quite handy when you're face to face with a foreigner and you need to think up a word for "toilet paper" quickly.
I use W3Schools when I need to remember something quickly, and MDN when I need to learn more deeply about it. When I write CSS, I always keep W3Schools open in one tab and MDN in another tab. I wish somebody would link W3Schools' lists to MDN's details. That would make the best of both worlds.
Which is why I use it. Any competitor needs to beat it in this department.
e.g. compare these two for CSS "display":
MDN is more detailed, more up to date, and says in which browsers it works or doesn't work.
w3schools doesn't even have a list of all possible values.
Or for JS "getElementByID":
MDN just always explains more details and edge cases, and has much more browser compatibility info (including for mobile).
Couldn't disagree more.
Don't get me wrong, MDN has way better information but take yourself through the eyes of someone who just needs a quick reminder or sample of how to do something.
I'll use a 1280x800 screen sample since that's a common size.
Above the fold, one is a very quick and easy way for users to copy code and modify it for their purposes. It's also stupidly simple language. To make a box shadow, do this. The other has undisputedly better technical data but forces you have to scroll below to just see a sample code. And most new coders wouldn't understand how to read their syntax section. On top of that, w3schools lays out values in tables whereas MDN has paragraphs of copy.
By no means am I arguing that MDN doesn't have more detail, but I can definitely see why W3Schools is still used by those who know better.
It does so at the expense of speed of understanding. Better for some people, worse than others. As a speedy reminder of syntax or form, w3schools seems superior.
The reason that w3schools is at the top of the search results is that more people find it useful that MDN. Perhaps it isn't as cool with the hipsters as MDN, but for people trying to get things done w3schools is more useful in my opinion.
I think the comment about 'hipsters' is a little shallow, but it's interesting that this is so divided. I really assumed that HN would be completely in the tank for MDN.
I like nice designs myself (I'm currently building a new site and I'm getting inspiration from roon.io and other beautifully designed sites), but I'm also quite content using sites that have less-than-ideal designs if they do the job that I'm looking for.
So, if you've always used MDN you really must be a young whippersnapper :)
I think MDN has an advantage in that they've only really been around since HTML5 has become standardized, whereas w3schools has had to deal with the changing standards of html4/xhtml/html5.
"...whereas w3schools has had to deal with the changing standards of html4/xhtml/html5."
=> These differences are 99.99% additions, so don't impact documentation that much. In any case, documentations is more relevant is it documents implementations, not standards (which come after implementation most of the time, not the other way around until recently)
Stackoverflow seems to be the place where my JS searches lead me.
Damn those "hipsters" and their preference for valuing getting a real useful answer over an easy to read wrong answer!
Anyway, I see why w3fools decided to remove the list of now-fixed "errors". Thanks for wasting 15 minutes of my time - I'll bill you later :)
PS, your website fails w3c validation.
I keep meaning to buy a copy of this - http://www.visibone.com/products/everythingbook.html - although my standard memory jog for web development is still "view source", same as it ever was.
Probably it is due to my training as a mathematician, but I usually just keep an index of what I know and what it's used for, but I don't remember the specific details. I.e. Implicit Function Theorem can be used for proofs involving X, Y and Z under hypotheses H, unless you are fancy and go for H2 and more work. I just know what I need and where I can look it up – Nirenberg for fancy, any basic Differential Analysis text for the others, that Russian book on my shelf for a neat simple proof, Moser's for a simple proof and application, the list goes on with 6 or more 7 items. Well, this is actually stretching it a little thin, I could prove the basic differential versions without much trouble, and some functional versions given enough hypotheses.
By the way: that text is in the past tense, not because Grothendieck has died, but because he retired from mathematics in a quite abrupt way. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Grothendieck#Retireme...
I forget function names or math formulas all the time too. :P
For example, SQL injection: http://www.w3schools.com/php/php_mysql_insert.asp
Perhaps to their credit, they have a two-part tutorial on email sending, one titled "PHP Email" and the other "PHP Secure Email". Also, their form handling tutorial is followed by another tutorial on "validation" (by which they seem to mean a combination of HTML escaping and outdated defenses against SQL injection). But most people are just going to copy and paste the first tutorial without looking at the second.
1) For the sort of things that they are trying to learn (basic HTML tags), W3Schools is a great resource. It's clear and fairly up to date. No other resource has managed to overtake them for beginner friendliness. I was hoping http://docs.webplatform.org/wiki/Main_Page might, but right now it seems like just a skin over MDN and searching doesn't work so well. I don't know if they've given up or what. (One idea: You could help them)
2) After I teach the second HTML lesson, I will explicitly show students "okay, here's how you search for HTML help on the internet." At that point, I'll show them W3Schools and MDN and explain the drawbacks/benefits of each. Don't know how much of that sticks with them, but it's worth a shot.
3) It took me a long time to put together HTML/CSS/JS curriculum. I first started several years ago, when teaching our first workshop, and have been adding to it since (and there are still more topics I want to add). I did also start video taping my lectures, as I figured it could be a resource for people who didn't make it to the workshops, and that also took me a long time - about an hour to record and edit a 10 minute video. So, I support anyone putting out more great knowledge material in the world, I just hope you have a fair amount of time allocated to work on this, so that you can it proper justice.
4) I recommend having a test audience for your material, like somebody that you tutor, so you can see how they respond to it and where their knowledge holes are. Also, a feedback button. :-)
I've been deliberately avoiding it for ages now.
Honestly, I had no idea this idea would strike a nerve like it has. Now I have more motivation than ever to incorporate feedback and make this a valuable thing for us all to have.
That said I think there is definitely a lot of room for improvement, I just haven't found MDN fills that gap yet so I wish the author of this luck but I hope they realize MDNs folly. Ad free isn't necessarily better. W3S is, despite it's flaws, fairly simple, easy to use and understand (mostly) and the relevant results almost always show up at the top of a Google search.
It would be interesting to test out a feature where the user could select simple vs. complex document layout.
And yeah, I totally agree. The site navigation for Mozilla Developer Network is really terrible. And the open wiki -- crowd sourced -- style of content editing means there is no consistency.
I land on W3Schools all the time when I'm looking stuff up, probably more so than StackOverflow. I just think we really deserve something better.
Takes some time to get used to changes, even if said things are an improvement.
1) Excellent site look and feel.
2) Juvenile language and problem statement. Off putting pitch to developers that found W3Schools useful. At some point it'll have to switch to a more professional approach.
3) Reading between the lines, apparently the author's goal is to crowdsource basic tutorial development with a long term for profit motive involving premium content. While transparent to mention this up front, it leaves me uninterested in participation.
You really took the high road with this understatement. If OP didn't reference he was in his senior year of college over a decade ago I would've thought he was an angry young teenager.
Played around at lunch times a BT and volunteered for a month in Edinburgh on secondment brought the only book on HTML published at the time and read it through a couple of times on the train up to Waverly station.
Actually, I find that the top ranked things usually have what I was searching for -- often that's W3Schools or Wikipedia. I'm not a big fan of W3Schools site design, and I wish they had output examples, but, really, the site design isn't bad enough that it makes it unusable as a reference, and usually when I get it at the top of a search results page, I'm usually looking for a quick reference.
Google does not take revenue into account in its ranking, or the decisions on how it changes its ranking. It is neither a signal, nor does it influence which signals are used.
You might be interested in this: http://searchengineland.com/too-many-ads-above-the-fold-now-...
Google demotes pages that have too many ads, including Google's ads.
"It doesn't help to give people a better page if they aren't going to click on it"
I think you've lost me. Don't people tend to click on the top result? And isn't the idea to put the highest quality results at and near the top so people go there? How could it possibly be helpful to the user to not offer them the best quality results?
I looked at the link you provided, but I'm as confused as the author. Isn't there a limit of three Adsense units on a page anyway? As the author points out, Google suggests to publishers that they use the maximum number of ads, and specifically (see the heat map) that they put them above the fold. Then it appears they've decided to penalize publishers who follow this advice. The only way for this to be consistent is if they're only penalizing pages displaying competing advertising products.
The author also shows a screengrab of Google's own results page, where we can see that everything visible on the monitor is sponsored content, with no organic search results at all.
Frankly, I'm perplexed about what point you were trying to make by suggesting this link, but it was interesting.
Almost anyone would agree that the mayoclinic result is higher quality. It's written by professional physicians at a world renowned institution. However, getting the answer to your question requires reading a lot of text. You have to be comfortable with words like "Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs," which a lot of people aren't. Half of people aren't literate enough to read their prescription drug labels: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1831578/
The answer on yahoo answers is provided by "auntcookie84." I have no idea who she is, whether she's qualified to provide this information, or whether the information is correct. However, I have no trouble whatsoever reading what she wrote, regardless of how literate I am.
That's the balance we have to strike. You could imagine that the most accurate and up to date information would be in the midst of a recent academic paper, but ranking that at 1 wouldn't actually help many people. This is likely what's going on between w3schools and MDN. MDN might be higher quality, better information, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's more useful to everyone.
But the MDN information architecture/navigation is terrible, the crowd sourced content is inconsistent, the pages load very slowly. When you put it all together, it's difficult to focus on winning the search engine game with those flaws.
There was a "Better JS docs" movement a few years ago that moved the needle a little, but in the end it was just the wrong content to do the job.
(source: I work for Mozilla, on MDN)
You don't plan on crowd sourcing content? You're going to write all these documents, tutorials, cheat sheets and videos by yourself?
They were kind of a crazy idea, I admit ...
If you use it to learn PHP programming you're doing it wrong. If you use it to learn MySQL, you're doing it wrong. If you use it to learn how browsers work, you're doing it wrong. As a Cliff's notes for HTML and CSS, however, it is more than adequate.
On one hand, I agree with most of you that W3School isn't accurate or up-to-date or is riled with example that have security holes but on the other I am really thankful for them for getting me into web development. Back then there weren't much options, W3School was the easiest and the best we had. I remember sitting late nights learning to build simple web apps by referencing W3School every few minutes. Getting someone interested into something is very hard, to get a kid interested in sports, you don't start with a ruleset, instead you give him a start and correct him as he makes mistakes. That start was what W3School was for me.
Although I have been defending it, I think they should expire/update w3school. Times have changed and there are better resources to take its place.
I did want to know where it redirects to. I was happy that my curiosity didn't lead me to goatse or the like.
I wonder if anyone's made a Reddit bot or something of the sort to do just that automatically?
I remember to have seen some bad examples showing bad habits but to be honest, I have seen more people ranting about W3S than bad examples on the website, maybe it would be more useful to show why W3S sucks that much.
W3Schools offer "certification" - (http://www.w3schools.com/cert/default.asp) - of dubious value. This is troublesome because people know of W3schools, and sometimes think there's a link between W3schools and W3C.
For everything else, there's http://www.quirksmode.org/ and Stack Overflow ;)
I learned everything I know about web development from htmlgoodies which has been around for long before w3schools came on the scene.
Also, given that w3schools is a non-profit, why not just help them. Yes, they have adverts, however they state that their aim is to always have everything on the site freely available, rather than a business plan of "Actually, I hope to make a living by selling high quality video tutorials", which leads to perverse incentives to keep the quality of the free stuff low, to stop it from outcompeting the paid stuff.
Really? According to Wikipedia it’s a commercial company.
The footer on the w3schools site states “Copyright 1999-2013 by Refsnes Data.”
Company site: http://www.cprenterprisesonline.com/elearning/about/about_re...
from the article - "W3Schools is not for profit, while maintaining normal W3Schools operation is very expensive."
The holding company may be for-profit in some things, but it would seem that w3schools itself is not a for-profit concern.
As far as the fact that they copyright things, that doesn't tell us whether they make profit from it or not.
Boycott Google if you're so angry that they come up so much.
I'm not sure how videos are the answer ... that is a different problem, videos, despite their popularity, are pretty inefficient for a reference.
Let's face it, beginners will make mistakes no matter what. Create an alternative that is good, with quality info, and easier to use than W3Schools but let's be adults about and just do it first, then get on the soapbox. Google will award you if you succeed.
Jeff Atwood belittled EE to no end ... but he actually created Stackoverflow, so he won the game. Just hating on W3Schools will get nowhere.
I've found w3schools to be a fanastic resource for my students. I've used it myself to learn the basics of the SVG format and as a quick way to look the syntax for arcane things I've forgotten.
If w3schools didn't exist, we would have to invent it.
The OP seems hell-bent on destroying a popular web resource. He would be better served to generate improvements rather than trying to raise an army to kill it (see the "I'm In") button at the bottom of the page (without an "I'm Out" button for those who dissent).
If you need to direct your hate somewhere (his words from the article, not mine), there are plenty of better targets (for example, MSDN could stand a few improvements).
It's replacement(s) should disaggregate the goals of programming quick reference and beginning instruction, realize those are different things with different design needs.
And maybe all other sites should learn the value of putting the information that covers 90% of use cases above the fold.
We've gotten a little too impressed with scrolling and the infinite canvas of a webpage, underrating the usability impact of scrolling around to find information, and the beauty of having everything fit on one screen. (I know, dealing with resized browser windows and different sized monitors and high-DPI is hard, but there would be gains...)
Wouldn't a much easier path be to help those resources cited improve their search results? If w3schools falls down to the second page on a Google search, no one would be having this conversation. There's nothing wrong with wanting to build yet another online learning resource, but if the goal is really to just get people to stop using w3schools, it doesn't require building yet another online learning resource.
Double negative points for targeting women, making it harder for them to pursue a career.
Let's just put that up and center and keep it honest. It does feel pretty bait-and-switch since you even apologized for the open-source feel and are really begging to make your project #1 on web development google searches and make you rich in the process.
Though I appreciate the list of currently available resources and have saved the link for that reason.
I have stopped going to W3C schools for various mentioned in the above website.
W3Schools was launched in 1999. I was "getting started" with web development well before that.
I often use it, via Google, as a reference source now, because its good enough as that. I'm not real attached to it, but don't see the reason for the hate. It may be that the introductory material isn't the best for most users, but, you know, even when books were the main source of tutorial material, you couldn't always rely on whatever book was merchandised in the most prominent position with a title that seemed to be on point for what you are looking for, you comparison shopped, looked through several, and figured out which one spoke to you. I'm not going to develop "hate" because the digital equivalent of the most-prominently-merchandised title isn't necessarily the best for all people. Its a lot easier to check out multiple sources from a search results page than it was to check the limited selection at multiple bookstores to find the right resource, and, ultimately, what is the best learning resource for you is a subjective thing.
They (help.dottoro.com) also have links (when available) to the Microsoft Developer Network, Mozilla Developer Network, Safari Developer Library, and the official W3C spec, which can be helpful. The only thing I would really change about their site is the URL structure. Completely nondescript and not user-friendly.
Once you move from using W3S to MDN or really anything else there is no going back.
So the use of ASP makes a resource "unworthy" already?
We can't get rid of W3Schools, but we can demote and disavow the URL on Google SERPs.
We should submit the link to mechanical turk services on fiverr·com and get the links demoted on Google that way.
It is advertised that bulk submitting a URL into spam-silos helps with SEO, when infact Google hates this and implements their Panda algorithm if this occurs.
It could backfire and increase SEO temporarily - but because we are practicing 'paid links', Google will punish the site owner for this. I think a crack team of Internet vigilantes should link-blast the W3Schools URL into spam-silos, and the W3Schools problem can finally go away.
That said, a large part of the problem newcomers have learning to program is not the available materials, but rather the reason. I've seen many people start these tutorials but fail to complete them. They wanted to learn to code because it's something they want to know how to do, not because they had something to build. Programming is a means to an ends, a solution to a problem.
I'm not sure what the solution is, but a product that started with the reason why someone is learning to code or, even better, could give them a reason, would be very successful.
Fix the font. It's too faint and if I were a newbie landing on this and comparing it to W3Schools, I'd immediately switch to W3Schools. Your site's wide body width also hurts readability.
I'm not trying to nitpick for nitpick's sake...coming from experience, it's harder to change these things (not technically, but mustering the will to do so) later on in the process. And readability is key in winning the masses over, and is not just a minor detail in relation to the overall goal.
Same in alot of other spaces. Coupon codes for online shopping for example. We operate a site which carries the exact same coupons as the largest coupon site out there does, but the latter hogs all the rankings and is impossible to displace whilst ours goes begging. No obvious reason apart from the fact that they were around earlier when coupon sites were a novelty and picked up plenty of backlinks from media outlets for that reason.
If W3School is so bad, can somebody suggest something better?
Something which follows Edward Tufte rules on how to make information concise, organized and discoverable.
The problem with many alternatives is that they are definitely visually attractive but unfortunately not very efficiently organized and presented. Maybe MDN has a chance but I haven't see any improvements on that front.
I used to keep a website of ASP, PHP, and HTML example and learning sites as a bookmark and kept them updated until my site got hacked and files deleted. I might do that again some day. Having a web site devoted to learning different web standards in programming is always a good idea. Just make sure you keep providing examples and lessons and don't end up like Webmonkey and just quit.
(Well, reading and trying it out on my own purposeless projects.)
Never saw W3Schools until 2010 when a co-worker (web developer) showed it to me.
Now MDN's JS and CSS reference shows up on top!
2. Your time and effort is better served contributing to http://webplatform org, which has the collective financial might of Adobe, Apple, Facebook, Google, HP, Intel, Microsoft, Mozilla, Nokia, Opera and the W3C.
We feel strongly too that w3Schools is outdated.
here's our interactive width & height exercise for newbies
If anybody is angry/upset/whatever about it just do your search excluding W3Schools from the results:
1: Just look at a random page in MDN's HTML reference. https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/HTML/Element/a The top navigation (DOCS/APPS/FIREFOX/DEMOS/INVOLVED) are of no use to me if I just want to look for another HTML elment. The only way to go back to the reference page is back button(not many poeple would notice the breadcrumbs), the "Table of contents" is just a fancy decoration there(thanks, I can see the boldfaced enormous headings and I know how to scroll to what I want in a less-than-two page webpage). If you look at W3School, the left navigation lets you access to the page of the element you want to learn very easily. The top navigation bar is also helpful because I might just forget some CSS tricks while learning JQuery.
2. Still a tag on MDN. https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/HTML/Element/a . For a newbie does he need to know "Charset : obsolete. This attribute defines the character encoding of the linked resource. The value is a space- and/or comma-delimited list of character sets as defined in RFC 2045. The default value is ISO-8859-1."? Should this "Usage note: This attribute is obsolete in HTML5 and should not be used by authors. To achieve its effect, use the HTTP Content-Type header on the linked resource." be put on the most prominent place? I believe the most being-looked-for attribute is href. Why MDN can't you put a working example on the top and leave your verbosity to the bottom? Look at W3School, whenever you visit a page, it just gives what 95% of people need: Very short description; an intereactive editor(this feature is awesome but MDN doesn't have it); working-out-of-box example; reference at the very bottom(that's where references should be put).
I do not hate MDN. I like Firefox and Mozilla and what people there are doing. But I feel things have come to a stage where some people, to show their passionate love for so-called "open source spirit", discriminate against bussiness effort to build better things although they don't have a better open source alternative.
Back to the article. I support what the author is doing, but unless you show at least some decent work, I won't donate.
To MDN maintainers: Please read some "The Elements of Style" by Strunk & White and some "Don't make me think" by Steve Krug, and improve MDN. You guys could have done better.
W3SChools is targeted to newbies, and they succeed as a great resource for learning HTML/CSS at least(That's what I used it for. I'm not learning PHP and SQL on it). Don't deny it, unless you have a better resource for NEWBIES.
"To MDN maintainers: Please read some "The Elements of Style" by Strunk & White and some "Don't make me think" by Steve Krug, and improve MDN. You guys could have done better."
Over the years, I have noticed that lots of people have good ideas about MDN, but no one seems to care sharing them in a Mozilla channel or better, contribute to MDN! It's a wiki! Something is wrong or inappropriate? Go fix it!
(appropriate channel: https://lists.mozilla.org/listinfo/dev-mdc )
It's also been over a year now that Mozilla is building the wiki behing MDN. It's an open source project called Kuma
Check it out and contribute. I have not read the 2 books you're refering to. If you have, go share your ideas!