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Is there something called as coding horror? Or programming paralysis? I don’t really know…I am not one for jargons anyway. But I do know that there many among us who go into brain limbo when something remotely technical stares them in the face. I understand. I have the same problem with finance and law. But not with coding or programming.
If you want to learn how the web really works, you have to know a bit about the technologies that make the magic. Web literacy is one of the skills that almost compulsory for the digital age. You might not make the next great app, but it will just make you feel a little more confident. Plus, the web itself is a great place to learn about web technologies. It’s not drudgery either.
Let Mozilla Webmaker prove the last two statements. Let’s make, learn, and hack.
What is Mozilla Webmaker?
Mozilla Webmaker is a set of tools and a wider community that has one primary goal – to help millions of people move from using the web to making the web.
Mozilla Webmaker was launched last year with the objective of creating a web literate planet. Mozilla’s Executive Director, Mark Surman puts it aptly: “The web is becoming the world’s second language and a vital 21st century skill”. Mozilla follows up on the goals with a three pronged thrust of building a worldwide open community of learners; showcasing projects and events to gel the community together; and giving the community the authoring tools and software to make a success out of it all. In short – meet, make, and learn.
If someone asks you, what is Mozilla? Give them a gentle push to the Mozilla homepage and tell them it is more than Firefox.
The Learning Tools
Mozilla Webmaker presents three tools and tells you to go out and make something amazing with the web. Let’s look at them:
Thimble can be described as your first WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) HTML editor. As the screen above can tell you, it is very simple to grasp and should help you easily learn HTML and a bit of CSS.
Here are five things to do on Thimble:
1. The design is simple – keeping beginners in mind. It is a learning tool, not a full-fledged code editor.
3. You can filter projects by skill (difficulty) level, topic, and the skill that will be required.
4. The HTML editor suggests tips and hints and handholds you through the coding.
5. You can publish your page with a simple click and share it with a tweet or share the URL.
X-Ray Goggles [No Longer Available]
X-Ray Goggles is a tool that’s just geared for a bit of webpage ‘hacking’. You can use it to do a bit of reverse engineering on a web page and see the elements it is made of.
Here are some things to do with X-Ray Goggles:
1. X-Ray Goggles helps you get to the underlying code of any webpage.
2. Look at the code…understand the structure of the page…and see how changing the elements will have an effect on the page.
3. The Remixer tool gives you the underlying HTML code and the preview of the page. You can change the code and commit the changes.
4. You can use the X-Ray Goggles Bookmarklet to remix any webpage.
5. Use X-Ray Goggles to inject your own creativity into the existing projects on Mozilla Webmaker. For instance: Use Mozilla’s X-Ray Goggles to create the next chapter in the multimedia novel Inanimate Alice.
Popcorn Maker is a very interesting video creation tool that integrates over 20 plugins (for e.g. Twitter, Google Maps etc.) and lets you create interesting multimedia mashups. Popcorn is still in active development and is expected to be launched in the latter part of 2012. You can check out a preview of the tool on the Mozilla Webmaker page.
Here are some interesting features of Mozilla’s Popcorn Maker:
1. It is Open Source and free.
2. It will be a timeline based media app where you can bring in information (for e.g., display pop-ups) from other web apps using the plugin system.
3. You will be able to publish and share your creations on your blog, Twitter, or Tumblr, and even embed the code.
4. You can create your own newscasts, pop-up videos, multimedia reports, and guided web tours using the video creation tool.
These three applications are learning tools that can get you interested in web programming and web technologies. If you are interested in taking your first steps towards web literacy, try out Mozilla Webmaker and then take it from there. We have quite a few programming and web designing resources of our own.
What do you think of Mozilla Webmaker? Does it grab your interest? Do you think it is easy enough for children and adults to learn about what goes into making the web?