Mike Allanson

Yes, you can Read the Spec

Computers are stupid, in that they only do exactly what you tell them to do. But computers are very human because it's mostly people who make them do things.

This applies to languages, libraries, frameworks, protocols and more. They're all rigid and well defined, but they were defined by people and people can be fuzzy.

CSS, an example

Let's take CSS as an example. Sometimes to understand something you need to read the spec. Despite its dry language, the spec was written by humans. Sometimes, they even make mistakes.

Different humans then read that spec, and write code to translate its intent into behaviour. Sometimes those humans make mistakes too.

Mistakes, and where they lead

I often make mistakes. Sometimes because I'm careless or impatient. Sometimes because I don't understand how this particular thing works. I'll do a bit of trial and error, a bit of console logging, maybe Stack Overflow, or pick through the docs or someone's blog.

Sometimes that's not enough, and all I needed to do was read the spec.

Wizards, not required

Things like the CSS specification can seem impenetrable. But if you can write code, you can read a spec. It might be slow going, but the more you do it the easier it gets.

A specification is not magic. It was written, read, revised and edited by humans. You can read it too.