How much time does a person need to learn HTML?

Here is a question for technical people among your – how much time does a person need to learn HTML?

The reason I am asking is that I gave to one of our newer colleagues a whole weekend (from Friday evening until Monday morning ) to do it.  I promised to unleash all my fury and beat him severely with a stick, if I will find something that he doesn’t know by Monday 09:00am.

Now, before you will call me cruel, I’ll give you a couple of more details.  The person who I gave the task isn’t just a random fellow from the street.   He’s someone holding a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from a known UK university.   He has also studied Computer Science in USA and Cyprus, and even has some experience in the field of programming and web development.  So, yes, I would have expected him to know this stuff already, but somehow it happened that he doesn’t, and now he’ll have to catch up with it.

Also, when I gave out the task, I was as soft as I usually am.  So, I  provided the person with all the necessary learning materials, including digital copies of O’Reilly books, famous web sites, and relevant Google queries.

Am I fair with my timing?   How much time would you need to learn HTML?  Should I beat up the person on Monday even if he learns it inside out?  These are the questions rushing through my head right now…

31 thoughts on “How much time does a person need to learn HTML?”


  1. I think 2 days is more than enough. But reading only won’t be enough. This person must also practice! Besides, having a BSc degree means that this person must have done HTML at least once in the University. Taking into consideration all those qualifications you just mentioned for this person, then 2 days is enough.

    If he/she fails to do so, my advice will be to ‘through’ him/her away and get yourself a new guy. At least that’s what I would have done!


  2. Marios,

    I don’t know about the University degrees, but at least Bachelor program in Intercollege does not involve anything that deals with HTML. This might be specific to each educational institution…

    Regarding the “throwing out” and “getting the new one” – it only sounds easy. As far as I know, most of the web design/development companies in Cyprus are constantly looking for designers and programmers. Same people are circulating back and forward, and rarely are they any good…

    If I count for a good PHP programmer – that says a lot. :)


  3. learn HTML up what degree? Two days are enough to read and understand basic HTML or to write some basic stuff, but as you know it is kinda rare these days to see such HTML, since most of the stuff is based on HTML and CSS and JavaScript. Div positioning and blah blah is a bit tricky to read if you don’t have some practice :)


  4. Alexander,

    in order to proceed to “advanced topics” – JavaScript, CSS, etc – one has first to learn the basics. Create a simple web page with headings, links, images, tables, lists, frames, forms, etc. Then see where it all becomes tricky and impossible, so that other technologies – CSS and JavaScript in particular – come in naturally.

    Without understanding the problems, it’s a bit hard to see what the solutions are and how they apply.


  5. Alexander,

    I didn’t ask the guy to learn how to “write the code at a normal speed with low error rate”. I asked him to learn HTML. I want him to know this stuff and understand it. So that he can read what others have written, and so that he won’t write some total non-sense himself.


  6. If he can learn to read other peoples code in 2 days then 90% that he will be able to write code himself as well.

    But, thats just my thoughts…

    Btw, let us know if he managed to learn HTML in 2 days :)

    PS: How much time someone need to learn PHP ? :P


  7. all that + some experience in web development… + dosent know HTML – beating with a stick wont be enough, you better use a thing or two from the martial arts from the Indian movie post


  8. I’m flabbergasted he didn’t manage it in 2 days. One would think that the CS degrees would give him the flexibility/structure to pick it up quickly. Now what are you planning to do with him?


  9. Vips,

    one thing I’ve noticed with quite a few recent CS graduates is that they have a complete and total mess in their heads. They’ve heard all the buzz words, but have no idea of what is what and how things fit together. If HTML was just a markup language to them, then it would be possible to learn it in two days. But it seems that HTML is more of a this thing that Amazon uses to be like Google. :)

    What more can I do to them? They have already been destroyed and are suffering enough…


  10. Alexander,

    Masters are often handled differently. For example, when my wife went for her MBA in Intercollege, she was surprised to learn that the only prerequisite for any Master degree program is a Bachelor degree of any program. So, having her Bachelor of Business Administration, she could have easily went for Master of Computer Science. In fact, quite a few people, I remember, switched majors and got Bachelor of one major and Master of another.

    This is about the weirdest thing I’ve heard about formal education…


  11. It’s true re: a switch in disciplines from Bachelor’s to Master’s. However I think one still has to do the basic undergrad courses so when I did my MBA, I had to take all the undergrad marketing, accounting, etc classes as I didn’t have them for my Bachelor’s CS degree.


  12. Vips,

    even if one is required to take some undergrad classes for Masters, I still think that it’s not enough and shouldn’t be practiced. The way I see the degrees (at least based from CS experience):

    Associate/Diploma (2 years) – introduces one to the field. This is mostly a time for 101 and 102 courses. You’ll need a lot of experience to start growing from here.

    Bachelor (another 2 years, or 4 years from start to finish) – provides a deeper understanding of the field, as well as some practical skills, such as programming and database design. You’ll still be a trainee in most of the companies after getting this degree, but you’ll need just a bit of time to map what is in the “real life” to what is in the “books”.

    Masters (another 2 years after Bachelor) – it’s the time to get even better understanding of the field. With all the basics covered, and some practical skills under the belt, it’s time for a higher level, abstraction view of the field. Strategy-related courses and really deep technical stuff goes in here…

    Ph.D. (take your time) – you’re pretty much on your own now. Everyone told you what they know, and you can explore the field as deep and wide as you want. Don’t forget to publish the results of your findings in the process…

    By cutting out or shrinking any of these stages, it’s easy to see how education will degrade (generally speaking, of course, not tied to any particular individuals or majors)…

    And then again, this whole system is foreign to me and I don’t have much experience with it, so maybe my perception of it is totally wrong or somewhat inaccurate (feel free to correct me).


  13. Leonid,

    sorry for the delayed response to you comment about switching from bachelor CS to master MIS (comment #24).

    I don’t think that is weird at all. The point of changing CS to MIS is not that people got fed up with CS but in most of the cases they consider Bachelor in CS to be enough computer knowledge for them and do master in MIS to have more business related stuff related to CS (since MIS is somewhere in the middle between CS and Business Administration).

    Bachelor in CS gives one enough knowledge to do Master in MIS and Master in MIS is more focused on those system analysis classes which show one how to present the products to the client in a nice way :)

    You can talk to Chris (NetTech) about that since he did this switch from CS to MIS when he was studying and I have asked him the reason :)


  14. Alexander,

    from my experience, MIS is a pretty useless major. Being in between of CS and BA, it does not provide any special skills for the student. CS students are often given enough BA courses to get a good idea of the field, as well BA students are often required to complete a few CS courses to have a familiarity with the subject.

    Of course, a lot depends on each particular student, and some people can learn without even being taught, but I’m talking more of a concept of a major.

    I am yet to see a MIS student who understands either BA or CS side of things or can do something (or knows something) that either a BA or CS student can’t.

    Maybe that’s just my limited exposure to MIS students… :)


  15. Leonid, I agree with your idea of what a Master’s is for – more so for the MBA though. My idea is that the Master’s in CS would become even more theoretical rather than practical. That may just be a misconception on my part though.

    I also believe that a degree doesn’t give you intrinsic knowledge but rather the tools and techniques to learn in the future so the more formal education you have, the better your skills of analysis rather than the depth of your knowledge (if that makes sense). One could even argue that since you’re now concentrating on one particular part of your field that in general, your knowledge/fluency decreases.

    And I must defend the MIS students as my brother was one. He’s now an Oracle DBA so there can’t be too much wrong. I do get the feeling though that MIS students don’t get so excited with the latest hardware as CS folk.

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