I'm not just a web developer, I'm a ColdFusion applications developer. I'm also a graphic designer, a user interface designer, and I try to keep a constant view of the overall user experience in mind. Just like the lot of you, I have to employ many different skill sets to get work done on a daily basis. As such, there's always about a thousand different things rattling around in my head.
To help cope with this, I pretty much take it for granted that I have a very strong grasp on the basics of web development; that way, I don't have to think about the little things, thereby allowing me to concentrate on the higher level aspects of web development (not to mention all the effort it takes just to stay current in our field). Of course, this only works if my premise about the basics are correct.
As it turns out, my premise is dead wrong. At the recent CFUNITED ColdFusion conference, Sandra Clark rocked my world with her session titled, "CSS Back To Basics." In it, she completely shook my believe that I had any handle on the basic building blocks of web development. Whereas before, I thought my thorough understanding of H tags, P tags and DIV tags was enough to cover the basics, Sandra Clark opened my eyes to a whole world of standard XHTML tags that I had never used before, or at least, may not have used correctly.
Definition Lists for intake forms - but forms have nothing to do with definitions? Block level Label elements - that seems so weird. Grouping navigation into an unordered list - doesn't that just add more noise? An Address tag - what the heck is that?!? To sum it up, what Sandra Clark helped me to realize was that while I can make a web page appear to be valid visually, from an informational standpoint, I have no idea what I'm doing.
If you think you know a lot about HTML - the very building blocks of what we do every day - I would highly recommend that you check out her presentation (if it's available). You might be shocked, both by what you don't know as well as how backwards you might be looking at page data. How do I even go about fixing this huge gap in knowledge? I guess I can just read through an XHTML manual to see all the tags that I never use? It feels so weird to go back and really learn something that I thought I already knew. I'm telling you though, I'd love to addend one of her [Sandra Clark's] seminars in the not-so-distant future; hopefully she can fill my knowledge gaps.