Basics of Web Development

Over the last few years, I have been doing web development work, and have noticed how some people who say they are into web design really don’t know that much at all. An example of this is my friend who uses Dreamweaver. I’m sorry, but if you use Dreamweaver, I do not consider you to be a web developer. Why? Because it doesn’t teach you anything that will help you. You learn where the buttons are in the toolbars, but that is usually the extent of what it teaches.

As far as I’m concerned, web developers do not use Dreamweaver. Want to become a web developer? First, get yourself a good IDE, or Integrated Development Environment, such as phpDesigner or Komodo IDE. This is important. If you use Notepad, you will not be able to code as easily as if you are using an IDE. Why? IDEs contain useful tools for when programming, such as code explorers, syntax highlighting, and auto repeat for some aspects of coding. Got an IDE? Good, your ready to start.

1. First thing about web development is HTML.

No matter how far you want to delve into the wev design world, you will NEED to know at least some HTML. HTML, or HyperText Markup Language, is the basis of the web. Everything you see, even this text you are reading now, had been displayed on your screen using HTML. That’s how important it is. Its alright if you have to go to every now and then to check on something, but you should know the basics, such as how to setup a basic page, tables and forms. While you are learning HTML, also take some time to learn hex colors. They may seem hard at first, but after using them a bit, you will be able to pop basic colors out of your head without even thinking.

2. Next thing you should learn is CSS.

CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets. When you see some CSS code, you will see why. CSS basically assigns formatting to your html elements. For example if I had a code that said body { color: #FFFFFF; }, it would assign the body element (the page) a text color of white. Sounds simple enough? That’s because it is. Learning CSS is probably going to be the easiest part of your journey.

3. Next you should try to learn the basics of PHP.

Some people will say JavaScript next, but I disagree. Personally, I think a website made with HTML, CSS and PHP will go a lot further than a site with HTML, CSS and JavaScript, because once you learn PHP, JavaScript becomes more of a tool for making dynamic sites.

To learn PHP, I think you should get a local server if you don’t already. Many packages are free to download which offer you Apache, PHP, MySQL, and other services which may come in handy to you. I recommend XAMPP. It can be installed on a USB memory stick, and will work on almost any computer. Now, learn the basics of PHP such as if and else statements, the various loops, echo, and form data variables. With these, you can start to create sites which actually offer something to the user. As you find out more and more about PHP, you will be able to create bigger, and better scripts, and ultimately better sites. If you want, download some simple scripts and have a look at what the author has done to create them.

4. Once you have the hang of PHP, learn some SQL syntax, and how to use MySQL with PHP.

You may not know it, but most sites are run from databases. Once you have learnt at least some SQL, you too will be able to create user authentication systems and other systems.

5. Now for JavaScript.

The main reason I recommend PHP before JavaScript is because of what you have to remember. If you learn JavaScript first, you will forget most of what you learn due to PHP doing the functions more efficiently on the server. However JavaScript is still useful. It can be used for things such as client side form validation, and dynamic content on websites.

6. While learning JavaScript, you may stumble upon AJAX.

Let me just say AJAX is your friend. Its main use is to get data from the server without actually refreshing the page, and when used properly with PHP, it can become a very powerful tool if the user’s browser supports it. This saves tons of time in most cases. Also, AJAX pages look more professional.

That’s basically the end of my guide. If you have done all the above, I shouldn’t need to tell you this, but you are not finished. You have not reached the end of the line. There are almost infinite possibilities for you. Learn advanced concepts such as how to use the PayPal gateways, shell commands, and other ideas. Learn a new language, such as PERL, or ColdFusion. The sky is the limit for you, keep going.

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