Jen Kramer: HTML, CSS, No-Code Technology.

Goodbye Molly.

Molly passed away yesterday. Here’s my Molly story.

I started to learn CSS in 2003, when Eric Meyer was teaching it via an online course. I understood enough to know it would be a game-changer for the web, but not enough to really understand it.

Fortunately, Molly published a book that taught me what I needed to know. I recommended it to my students. Together, we learned the earliest CSS in 2004, in room 2North at the Graduate Center of Marlboro College. I taught four Saturday morning workshops helping people learn what this CSS thing was – and in the process, taught it to myself.

Later in 2004, I heard about the UI Conference in Boston, hosted by Jared Spool and his agency, UIE. Eric Meyer, Molly Holzschlag, and other amazing speakers would be there. As a freelancer, I could afford the thousands of dollars price tag, but I could go for free as a volunteer. I stayed with a friend and lingered at the edges, amazed I was so close to these people who had been in the business forever and knew so much.

Molly’s books were a standard recommendation of mine for many years in those early days. While Jeffrey Zeldman taught me the strategy, reasoning, and importance of web standards, Molly taught me how to get it done. I incorporated all of this into my teaching, instructing class after class of the importance of following standards.

Years went by. The iPhone came out, responsive design hit the scene, software products rose and fell. Even WaSP declared their job complete. But those early days of standards stayed with me and formed my thinking to this day.

In 2016, I spoke at CSSconf – and there was Molly. I finally felt like I had earned the right to speak to her, and we had a wonderful conversation. We were both so concerned about how JavaScript had eaten the web. We were shocked at how one speaker described – with great pride! – how he had managed to kill the cascade in his code, and he was hoping to kill inheritance next.

Molly, a better teacher than me, approached the speaker and talked with him for a long time. She figured out he didn’t actually know CSS, especially the cascade or inheritance. He wanted stylesheets, not the kind that cascaded. Her conversation inspired my next round of talks and courses, focused on the (very old) topic of how the cascade and inheritance works.

I didn’t see Molly in person again, although we’d had many online conversations afterwards.

My deepest thanks to Molly, one of my earliest teachers. I continue to emphasize the importance of HTML and CSS and how the web should work, the importance of standards, the importance of loving our students and understanding their misconceptions. Thanks for the passion, the big laughs, the books, and your love of the web.

Jen Kramer @jen4web