Girl Develop It – Detroit

I find myself part of, or involved with, a lot of groups. There is something about getting people in the same room to learn or share a common interest that really excites me. I know I have had my share of lolipop moments while attending an event and I hope I’ve been able to give my share back.

Being a developer it’s only natural that I end up talking with a lot of other developers. It has always amazed me how few girl (women) developers there are. When I find one though I always have to apologize in advance because I end up asking them a million questions. The story of how they became interested in development is always intriguing and unique. But most have the same theme, they are not developing because they have something to prove in a male dominated field but instead they started to tinker early on with manipulating their environment to make it better or they wanted to make something their own.

Unfortunately that spark doesn’t always come as a child and women find themselves curious about code, the Web, and mobile after they are already in a career. Doing online tutorials can get someone started but without a community to bounce ideas off, to push, and to help with the few extra resources needed to get something launched, it is hard to stay motivated. This in person group is essencial for long term success when learning anything new.

A few months ago I was talking to Michelle Srbinovich about this very topic. We both handle social media for our organizations,  being a girl developer herself and my interest in the same topic we both stumbled across Black Girls Code, who coincidently was having an event on campus. We started talking more and Michelle discovered this much larger community of groups and events for girls looking to learn to code. One of those groups, Girl Develop It, is starting a Detroit chapter.

What is Girl Develop It?

GDI is a nonprofit that empowers women of diverse backgrounds to learn how to develop software.  Starting this November, GDI Detroit will be offering affordable classes for women (and men) who want to learn how to code – from introductory HTML/CSS classes to advanced courses for professional developers looking to expand their skill set.

Detroit Chapter kickoff event

Come learn more about Girl Develop It Detroit on Tuesday, October 23rd at Great Lakes Coffee at their kickoff event.

First Class: Intro to HTML & CSS

Want to learn how to build your own website? Already have your own Tumblr/WordPress/etc. site, but want to have more control over it? Interested in learning to program, but want to start small? This class is for you!

We will guide you through the basics of HTML and CSS, give you some readily-applicable skills, and answer any questions you may have along the way.

The course will be taught by Cara Jo Miller, UI/UX Designer at Are You A Human and co-organizer of Refresh Detroit and WordCamp Detroit.

November 10, 2012 – More details on the

Interested in helping out?

The success of these events are driven by people like you, if you’ve read this far I can tell you already have what it takes. Attend a class, spread the word, or teach a class. There is someone waiting for you to reach out, your support could be life changing.

Discover more at


Image Maps – Ability vs. Appropriate Use

I recently made a comment on an EDU Checkup episode about how the use of image maps was a negative aspect in the code of a website.

I promptly got the following comment:

I don’t get it. What’s wrong with image maps? Aren’t they still part of the HTML 5 working draft?

…doesn’t seem like they’re planning on phasing it out.

I wanted to take a minute to explain the difference between the official ability to use tags from the HTML spec and the appropriate use of those tags.

Yes, it is part of the standard

For me the issue with image maps isn’t their place in the standard, it’s their implementation. Tables are still part of the HTML5 standard but there are appropriate uses and uses that make the user experience far more difficult than necessary.

Let’s add some context

For example on the NEL site an image map is used to link to the social media sites. I can see the motivation behind using a single image for all the social icons to reduce HTTP requests. But that means the meta data behind the links basically is stating here is an image with some hotspots on it. It doesn’t give any insight into what is being linked on. Personally I think the better approach would be to list out each link in an unsorted list with an appropriate ID to label what the list is for. Then using CSS to display them next to each other, hide the text with a text-indent: -9999em and then use that same single social logo sprite to display the appropriate icons image for people can can actually view the site.

Image Map

Unordered List

This would allow the same visual result but add far deeper meaning to the HTML for machines and screen readers.

Just my two cents. I am interested in seeing examples of real appropraite uses of image maps, if you have any please feel free to comment.