Christchurch Workshop: Under the Bonnet - web coding for Technical Communicators

Prerequisite knowledge: Some exposure to web page coding: HTML, CSS, and/or JavaScript.
Hardware requirements: To participate in the hands-on labs, students must provide their own laptop (Windows or Mac), including a text editor (such as Notepad, EditPlus or similar for Mac), a non-IE browser (such as FireFox, Chrome, Safari) , and an unzip utility.

The workshop is presented in four parts: two morning, two afternoon.

Part One: HTML


Introduce web pages as collections of content, formatting, and behaviour, as provided by HTML, CSS, and JavaScript respectively. Discuss how these pieces work together to produce working web pages.

Cover HTML elements as they relate to structuring page content, with emphasis on separation of content and format. Discuss proper tag construction, nesting, inherent vs. inherited properties, hyperlinks. Focus on some HTML5 features, including semantic structural tags, and examine how good content structure is the basis of good communication.


Edit an HTML page, add content and structural elements, correct existing errors. View and verify page in browser.

Part Two: CSS


Cover CSS rules, again with emphasis on separation of content and format. Discuss proper rule construction, cascade order, dependent vs. independent classes, contextual and descendant selectors, IDs, pseudoclasses. Compare inline vs. internal vs. external styles. Focus on proper selector usage to achieve desired formatting and how that relates to effective communication.


Edit a CSS stylesheet, add and correct rules. Attach stylesheet to HTML page, add and correct classes. View and verify page in browser.

Part Three: JavaScript


Cover JavaScript programming and how it provides interactivity to static pages. Discuss syntax, statements, functions, parameters, variables, methods, dynamic page modification, debugging. Compare internal vs. external scripts, introduce third-party scripts. Focus on useful scripts that improve communication via navigation, user interaction, and content presentation.


Edit a JavaScript script file, add and correct statements and functions. Attach script file to HTML page, add and correct function calls. View and verify page in browser.

Part Four: Advanced Topics


Introduction to some advanced coding topics and related considerations.

  • Responsive HTML: Next Billion Users, mobile first, device/viewport independence. Includes discussion of third-party CSS, frameworks, modern HATs.
  • CSS Preprocessors: SASS, LESS, Stylus, dagvars, etc. Includes discussion of CSS supersets, nested rules, variables, cross-browser compatibility.
  • JavaScript Libraries: jQuery, AngularJS, Backbone.js, etc. Includes discussion of syntax simplification, selection extensibility, cross-browser compatibility.


There is no specific hands-on lab for Part Four. The last part of the afternoon includes Q/A, fixing stubborn bugs from earlier labs, and open discussion of subjects of interest to students.


Costs for the workshop are:

  • Members: $391.00 incl GST
  • Student members: $287.50 incl GST
  • Non-members: $552.00 incl GST
  • IITP members: $460.00 incl GST.

Note: Members = members of TechCommNZ and affiliated organisations: NZATD, ASTC, PRINZ.
Cost covers tea/coffee, a light lunch and course materials.

Please read our payment terms and conditions.

Session details


When: Wednesday 12 October 2016
Where: ARA Institute of Canterbury , Room D210, D Block, Madras Street. See map, enter building from quad.
Time: 9:00am - 5:00pm
Tea and coffee will be served on arrival from 8:30am.

Please review the map or directions to the venue you will be visiting. You might find it useful to print them out for reference on the day of the workshop.

About the presenter

Dave Gash is a Southern California-based technical publications specialist who provides technology consulting and training for hypertext developers. A veteran software professional with over thirty years of development, documentation, and training experience, Dave holds degrees in Business and Computer Science, and is well known in the tech pubs community as an interesting and engaging technical instructor. Dave is a frequent speaker at Technical Communication conferences in the US and around the world; find him at

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