Writing CSS can be intimidating. Its syntax is deceptively simple, yet its power is mighty. Learn-to-code resources tend to point beginning developers to the CSS Zen Garden to demonstrate how CSS can be used to style identical HTML code in vastly different ways.

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Two impressive examples of CSS styling from CSS Zen Garden

The Zen Garden is useful for illustrating the power of CSS, but if you’re a novice, it’s easy to get intimidated by the level of design sophistication on show in the Garden’s examples. Realistically, your first few forays into writing custom CSS are not going to result in anything so advanced.

Don’t let that deter you! Even…

Cat watching human perform cup trick
Cat watching human perform cup trick

When I first learned the fundamentals of programming in JavaScript, I breezed over switch statements. They’re just an alternative syntax for writing simple conditional statements, and I was already overwhelmed with memorizing the “default” conditional statement syntax alongside all the other new JavaScript I was learning.

But I’ve since revisited switch statements after encountering them in other developers’ code, and I find myself a convert.

Here’s your standard conditional statement:

if (condition) {
// block of code to execute if the condition evaluates as true
} else {
// block of code to execute if the condition evaluates as false…

It’s 2020. If you’re like me, you’ve been washing your hands with obsessive frequency.

The concept of hygiene for health has been at the forefront of public consciousness all year (thanks, COVID!) — but I’m a beginner software engineer, so I’ve also been thinking about hygiene in a different context: the cleanliness, accessibility, and maintainability of my GitHub repos.

What is repo hygiene, and why do I care?

GitHub serves two primary purposes: it’s a platform for hosting version-controlled Git repositories, and it eases collaboration and code-sharing amongst developers. Good hygiene for GitHub repos means keeping your repos organized, consistently and accurately labelled, and rich with contextual information.

As a coding newbie, the first language I learned was HTML. It was relatively easy for me to quickly grasp HTML fundamentals. And the instant gratification of seeing my first “hello, world” published to a webpage — even if it was just in plain, unstyled text — got me hooked.

<p>hello, world!</p>

But writing good HTML isn’t always easy. Just as with other coding languages, there’s a big difference between code that merely “works” (i.e., doesn’t throw an error when the computer runs the file), and code that is clean and expressive.

HTML helps power everyone’s interactions with the web…

Sarah Thiery

Editor turned software engineer, living in Brooklyn.

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