My name is Chris and let me right up front say I have a very bad habit of being long winded so I will work on that right away. Oh and I love a good debate if I feel qualified to do so...
Here is the basic premise:
Way back when (1996ish) I was actually a fairly accomplished web designer. For you youngins, this is back when the "cool" people were putting 50 anigifs on a page and calling it interactive, while the rest of us laughed them.
I had some decent side jobs, some personal web endeavors, as well as professionally employed in some cases. I did a variety of sites: a national PGA (as in golf) chapter, a small newspaper, some adult related material (hey I even got to take some pictures for them when pressed for deadlines woohoo), an environmental information site, and some work for AOL internal web sites. I was actually employed there from time to time as a knowledge engineer for the call center tools and systems, QA engineer and other various and sundry titles. The bust happened, my offers were move to Virginia or fend for myself in Tucson. I chose the latter, especially with a house we had designed and been building for 12 months closing 6 weeks away. Ultimately a bad few years began after that choice, but I still stand by it as my home and personal happiness will always be more important than my paycheck.
Now, years later and due to a wonderful exboss that bailed me out of the hellish restaurant management business I am back in the IT side of things as a SR QA Analyst. However, I want to expand my knowledge and secure my future a little better.
I enjoyed the creative of web design, I get a major woody (can I say that hee lol) on impossible dates being made by a stellar team I am leading or a part of, I love new things that make you go WOW.... I hate boring bland code. I don't like digging through pages of syntax (but obviously will do it as needed) to find some dumbass mistype that has created baldspots for myself, my clients or my employers.
I did use notepad as my primary design tool for most of those first years, I ended up using a mixture of FPage, CFusion (through Able Commerce mostly), a little Homesite here and there and began to dabble in Flash. Obviously the versions of those utilities, save notepad, are not even really recognizable 10 years later.
Ok the basic introduction is out of the way. Sorry for so much but I felt it was important to give some backgraound before this new path in my life is traversed.
I am trying to decide my best avenue and approach for my future. Macromedia Studio MX in some cases almost seems a no brainer. It allows for my personal creativity for my own sites sooon to be redeployed for practice grounds as well as seems to be one of the top choices for web development suites - from what I have gathered in reading so far. Then we have ASP .net, hell even FPage is not even the same as way back when but I am assuming still ugly distorted code and a naturally negative stigma attached as before, which even with 10 years having past Gates still is the king of the mainstream users and I am assuming my desired audience. I am sure there are others... but
I want these things:
~ I want to have basic ease of use for simple projects
~ I want to have the extendability to increase my knowledge and therefore my skills (ie I dont want someone to say, go install FPage, learn it, expect to uninstall it in 60 days and use a real tool)
~ I want to have fun again developing projects for others
~ I wants sought after employable skill sets
I am really not that hard to please! :p
While I do have some background and I am not an IT idiot I am still very much a tabular rasa, or at least willing to try and be to start soaking up anew.
So the basic questions becomes where would you as the current professionals suggest I turn to rebegin his training and skill setting? and if you please, why?
Answers, websites to go read, other web communities to go join and leave you people alone, applications to go download, whatever you are willing to give me I am ready.
I dont think I could have shortened this first post much and feel confident I gave adequate information to my situation. So my apologies and my deepest appreciation to those that made it through this beast.