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Author Topic: What path to take for learning Web Development?  (Read 5007 times)
Proximo
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« on: September 20, 2010, 08:28:15 AM »

I know this topic will have many different opinions, but I am honestly ready to start learning how to develop web applications.

My focus is on Web Applications at the moment, so I am wondering what would be a good suggested path of learning.

Should I learn XHTML, HTML5 and CSS first?

What language should I learn first to get my feet wet and what to move onto from there?

I am a 100% complete novice with very no experience.  I have some ideas for web applications that I want to create myself, but at first I want to simply learn the very basics and create simple web applications for fun.

I am a 3D Designer and Animator by profession, so I am a visual type person.  Programming in my eyes seems like the most complicated thing in the world, so please suggest the simplest approach for me to get going. 

Should I start with a particular language because it's easy to learn and then transition to something more involved?

Do I need to have a grasp of HTML and CSS before I even get going?

Any information would be appreciated.   
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Codebyte
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« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2010, 08:43:39 AM »

Honestly, I would try your best to pickup XHTML and CSS first. Since you are visually talented, this should be a pretty simple task with a little code mixed in. When you understand XHTML and CSS and how they work together, you should be able to pickup JS (Javascript) pretty easily. My love for Javascript has grown fond over the past year. The combination of the three (XHTML, CSS, and JS) can be some pretty insane web apps.

After you feel pretty good with those 3, you can experiment with a little PHP to make things work server-side, ie. - storing data, handling data, validating logins, etc.

Just a fair warning - Web Development can be ADDICTING.

If at any point you need help with anything, always feel free to send me a PM.
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jpijper
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« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2010, 03:15:17 AM »

Honestly, I would try your best to pickup XHTML and CSS first.

I second this, and want to add that I think www.w3schools.com might be a good place to start.

Jan Roelof
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Proximo
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« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2010, 04:34:18 PM »

You guys are fantastic.

I won't lie when I tell you that I am excited and scared at the same time.  I am diving into a world that I am not familiar with at all.  I just get frustrated when I find a web app that does too much or not enough and I would like to just make it myself.  cheesy

Should I leave HTML5 alone for now? 

I know everything is going forward with HTML5 but the standard is not yet fully released if I remember correctly.  I guess if I learn XHTML, I should be able to pick up on the HTML5 later.
« Last Edit: November 02, 2010, 04:36:15 PM by Proximo » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: November 02, 2010, 09:30:03 PM »

Just a fair warning - Web Development can be ADDICTING.
I have to wholeheartedly agree with this.  It's unhealthy at times, but it's true.



Just to let you know who this is coming from:  I am a visual person as well, and I do lots of hobby work with graphic design and typography.   I consider myself a web programmer and I was 100% able to teach myself web programming.

As far as web applications go, HTML is for structuring the page, CSS is for designing the page (the visual part; you should like this), and JavaScript is for powering the page.  They're all fairly simple languages, and it's incredible how well they integrate and work together.  You have to expect that, though, since they were designed to work together.

I would suggest you start off learning HTML in whatever way you feel is best, be it books, online tutorials, or just jumping right in.  (HTML5 is just an extension of basic HTML, and you won't need to know much about it while you are learning.)

I'd like to showcase EloquentJavascript.net as a wonderful JavaScript tutorial and reference.  It's where I learned JavaScript, and it's great for anyone who wants to learn.  It's especially satisfying if you understand cultural references.  cheesy

www.w3schools.com is also a great tool, and I learned how to use CSS there.  But I now use it as more of a reference than a tutorial, due to the fact that it's, well, reference-like.  Great site, though.

Good luck, Proximo!
« Last Edit: November 02, 2010, 09:31:52 PM by pyrohacker » Logged

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jamiemac2005
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« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2010, 10:45:21 AM »

I'd agree with what everyone here has said. I'd like to add an emphasis to javascript. I learned javascript soon after XHTML and i find it a brilliant tool for mocking up website designs from layouts/working out kinks in my sites. My favourite development tool becomes Firefox with the JSShell and TestStyles bookmarklets (available here) and the popular WebDeveloper add-on.

Since you're a visual designer i'd suggest giving my method a go, i prefer to program using a text editor (Notepad++) than a visual IDE because of the greater control over the page i'm writing. So i mockup a basic layout and then use the afforementionned bookmarklets in firefox to modify my design in a visual way until i'm happy.

Of course this is all to do with after you've gotten started with web programming =]

Good luck.
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Renegade
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« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2010, 07:05:29 PM »

If you want to learn quickly and build skills that you take forward, I'd recommend looking at ASP before jumping into PHP. PHP is more difficult. ASP is really kind of outdated, but if you learn a bit about it, you'll be able to transition to more difficult concepts that you'll encounter in PHP. I don't recommend using ASP for production, but it is a good learning tool. Keep in mind though that it is very much outdated now. The current model is ASP.NET, which is VERY different.

ASP.NET is something to look at down the road though. Don't try to get into it as a beginner because it's simply far too advanced. It combines all the difficulty of PHP with a more abstract programming model and a huge framework. ASP.NET MVC is really the kind of thing to aim for long term as it follows very good programming methods that are simply nightmarish to do in PHP.

You might want to look at PHP before looking at ASP though, just to get a flavor for it. PHP is more C-ish or more like Perl than ASP. Perl is pretty much the most obtuse web programming language out there, and really only recommended for hard core masochists. smiley (Well, it's actually quite good and there's a huge amount of Perl code available, but it's simply terse and difficult.)

Do try to find out what XML is though. XHTML is based on XML, so knowing what XML is will help you understand XHTML. You don't need to know how to program XML, but at least know what "well formed" means because that's a key concept that you can't ignore. (HTML is not well formed, but XHTML is.)



Oh, just a cautionary note... Do try to develop good habits early on. There are already far too many bad web programmers out there creating bad web sites and bad user experiences. Along the way you'll discover more and more things like error checking that are core tools that you should be using. Don't get caught up in things that frustrate you though -- just keep going and returning to them as you learn more.

Have fun~! Web development can be a lot of fun and should be enjoyable for you!
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« Reply #7 on: November 16, 2010, 07:43:41 PM »

You probably should get a basic understanding of HTML and CSS down before moving further, as those are the fundamentals of web development. smiley

You can use PHP, ASP.NET, even C++ to generate your pages...but it eventually has to be turned into HTML for the browser to understand it. Someone mentioned W3schools earlier, that's a great site to start with, I use it for a reference regularly.

Once you get HTML and CSS down, I'd recommend learning a little bit of PHP. Zend has a great set of beginner tutorials.

Good luck!
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Proximo
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« Reply #8 on: November 21, 2010, 07:24:57 AM »

Thank you very much.

I will start with HTML and CSS first.   Thmbsup
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Tuxman
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« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2010, 04:30:36 PM »

XHTML is not actually made for websites anyway, that's why it has not become HTML 5. Learn to write standards-compliant HTML (no quirks mode) and you're safe.

BTW the easiest way to make your website use PHP is to rename *.htm(l) into *.php.  Grin smiley
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steeladept
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« Reply #10 on: November 26, 2010, 08:33:37 PM »

I see a lot of people suggest w3schools, but I found them rather obtuse, personally.  I found, for me, a MUCH better site that teaches HTML and CSS at the same time but as separate subject (a truly intuitive way to learn it if you ask me) is at HTMLDog.  It goes over all the current tags, some of the depreciated ones you may run across (and why not to use them), and how to accomplish what those tags attempted in a better, standardized way.  It truly has been the best gem site I have ever run across for HTML and CSS.  I anxiously await the update whenever a new version of either standard gets published.  Honestly, this quote from the site says it all:

Quote from: HTMLDog
What makes HTML Dog different to the vast majority of HTML guides and tutorials out there is its focus on best practices. "Web Standards" are at its heart, which, to cut a long story short, is all about using technologies, such as HTML and CSS, in the right way - as defined by their founding fathers and guardian angels - The World Wide Web Consortium (or W3C for short).

This might sound a little bit over zealous, but it isn't about following rules for the sake of it - there are immense tangible practical benefits. I'm talking about cleaner, future-proof code that is accessible to users with disabilities, can be maintained more easily and quickly, and will result in much lighter pages that download that much quicker.

This might also sound a bit daunting to the uninitiated, but it's all quite easy, really. Honestly. Give the tutorials a shot.

The most common way of learning HTML still seems to be to learn it the old, non-standard hack way and then, if so inclined, to learn about web standards at a later date. But there's no reason not to teach standards compliant HTML and CSS from the bottom up without saying there's anything special about it - it's just the way it's done. That's the way HTML Dog has always done it, and it's gone down pretty damned well for the millions who have used it.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2010, 08:37:24 PM by steeladept » Logged
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