Exactly who is the PHP expert here?

Yesterday, I was reading an article called “Easy-peasy PHP” on Digital Web Magazine’s website. As I was busy learning how I could become a better programmer, I realized something I wrote was being cited as a reference:

“Later on we might want to use PHP to make the list highlight the current page, perhaps using “Keeping Navigation Current With PHP” [by Jason Pearce] or a similar technique. For this reason, instead of adding a single instance of navigation.php to main.php we’ll actually want to include navigation.php in each of the files (intro.php, bluetruck.php, redhouse.php, and brownbear.php).”

Exactly who is the PHP expert here? I’m certain that I am most definitely not a PHP expert.

Sure, I wrote an article for A List Apart describing a PHP trick I used often, but that doesn’t make me an expert — or does it? Oddly, the author of the article stated that he, too, was no expert. Yet, we both publish something that gets read and referenced by hundreds of users.

Maybe it’s the sole act of putting something in writing. When I received a phone call from Ze Frank (a notable blogger) earlier this month to talk about Third Goal, he even said he’s no expert, but because a lot of people read his website, he’s often asked to speak at conferences and the like.

Whatever it is, I’m no expert. I discover this every day. The more I learn about PHP or just about anything at all, the more I become aware of how much I don’t know. Maybe, just maybe, that explains why I truly did know it all when I was 17.


  1. Good point Jason. I think it’s fair to say we web folk are genrally pretty humble when it comes to talking about our skills. Also, subjects like PHP really are so, well, BIG, that it’s hard for anyone to truly become an ‘expert’ in the real sense. I just hope some of what I do know inspires others to try – if only to correct my mistakes ;)

  2. hi jason

    i know there’s is a bit of a time lag since you wrote this post, but its the most relevant i could find, and the discussion was closed at a list apart for your article “keeping navigation current with php.”

    perhaps if you have a second, you could help me out. i am trying to combine your “current navigation with php” technique with a technique [described here: http://wellstyled.com/css-nopreload-rollovers.html%5D to style a navigation list using background images.

    the trouble is, the background images technique requires the attribution of a unique “id” to each , whereas your technique requires that the id=”currentpage” be provided by the php action.

    at the moment in my case, the looks like this:

        <a href="#" rel="nofollow">about nuca</a>
        <a href="#" rel="nofollow">contact</a>
        <a href="#" rel="nofollow">collector cards</a>
        <a href="#" rel="nofollow">links</a>
        <a href="#" rel="nofollow">unco grants</a>
        <a href="#" rel="nofollow">news</a>

    …and the image used in the background of each link is specified in the css:

    contact a {

    background: url(../images/rollover_words/tests/contact_all.gif) top right no-repeat;

    So, how could one combine the two techniques? I need each navigation list item to use a background image specified in the css, and still be able to “know” which page it’s currently on?

    Cheers, and thanks for your help! [I hope this makes sense.] ps, i know, accessibility wise, i shouldnt be using images for links in a navigation bar at all… however, by now its become a kinda academic problem which has been bugging me and i’d love to know if its possible to crack it!

  3. oops, i think some of the tags in my comment got lost in translation…i didnt realise that the comments were html savvy. sorry.

    in that unordered list i tried to paste in above, each list item should have a unique list item id. thats the main thing which could be confusing…

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