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Things I Wish I Learned When Starting Web Development

|Web Developer Advice|0 Comments

Here are some hopefully useful notes on things I wish I got really good at early on, but in some cases – didn’t find out about until later in my career…. Of=course this is just my opinion and there are a lot of different directions to take in the world of web development:

Command Line

I came form a graphics background so using a GUI was all I knew and wanted to know for a long time. I used to be afraid of that little black screen of death but when I started to use it more and learn the shortcuts I realized I was missing out on a whole world of tooling and server administration. This is used extensively when working with Linux (most servers on the web use it). Any serious web developer knows and uses the command line on a regular basis. Learn it little by little, it’s really not that bad.

JavaScript

JavaScript it probably the most sought after skill on the web right now. This is because of the rise of some important frameworks over recent years.

Try to have a good handle on it rather than just a quick overview. Understand that it’s very different than other programming languages and understand the “weird parts”. This is what makes it powerful.

If you love JavaScript and want to get serious about it, learn ES6, Node.js and an MVC framework like Angular, React, Ember or backbone. JQuery is essential.

PHP frameworks: Symphony and/or Laravel

These are the two most popular frameworks used in modern PHP development. Symphony has been around for a while and has become kind of a standard. Laravel is newer but has gained mass popularity. There are frameworks for every language so pick the one that is right for you. The goal is to use it to build faster and with best practices.

SASS

Use a CSS pre-compiler like SASS or LESS. You’ll be able to write CSS like an object oriented language and gain other advantages like minifying on save and polyfills. It’s also becoming somewhat of a standard for professionals.

GitHub

Advantages:

  • Share you code with others (can help with publicity)
  • Use it like a server or sub-version control. You can upload to it or download from it quickly from any location and control your changes, branches, etc.
  • Collaborate with other developers – enable work on the same project together without stepping on each other’s toes.
  • Companies and professionals often use it for the above purposes internally and if you are already using it, it would be good for your resume.
  • Have employers look at your code through GitHub when applying to jobs.

Quick note: use it with the command line if possible as it would be quicker once you get going and would be good for experience.

HTTP

Have an understanding of how information is communicated over the internet. Some good subjects are:

  • Domains,
  • TCP/IP,
  • HTTP,
  • Email and web hosting,
  • .htaccess
  • SSH
  • Regular expressions (important for PHP, JavaScript and mod_rewrite)

Understand how HTTP and Servers work. Many newer web frameworks are centered on the concept of HTTP and using it to your advantage.

Developer Tools

Good code editors:

  • Sublime text
  • Brackets
  • Visual Studio
  • Visual studio code
  • Notepad++
  • Atom

(All good in different ways)

Essential tools:

  • Developer tools to develop live in the browser like your browser’s developer tools or Firebug (for firefox).
  • Responsive design tools like responsive design view (for Firefox), iPhone/iPad simulators, etc.
  • Online code formatting tools (format/compress/ decompress JavaScript, HTML, XML, JSON, etc.)
  • Use Vagrant or Docker for setting up a test server for local development (instead of XAMP, WAMP, LAMP)

SEO

Even if you’re not planning on offering it as a service, you’re going to need to know how it works. To have a fair understanding of it is actually not a difficult task especially if you already used to working with html and have a fair understanding of how search engines work.

HTML5 CSS3

These are things you’ll learn on the job, but it would be worth it to research ahead of time since it will help you do modern web design. Your Websites will be more efficient and some modern techniques can save you some time (in most cases).

Responsive Frameworks

Responsive frameworks like Foundation or Bootstrap will save huge amounts of time and get you started with a good base. Make sure to understand how they work though.

Specializing

Try to find what you like and specialize if you can. There’s far too much out there to be an expert at everything.

Blogging

1 hour a week, even 1/2 hour. You don’t have to be an expert right away, just blog about what you’re using for the moment. Traffic will increase over time, then you can use that traffic for whatever you want. You won’t regret it.

Self Education

You’re responsible for keeping up to date with the standards and they change really fast! (Too fast in a way). Here are some good flexible/affordable resources for video training:

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