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Thread: Learning Multiple Languages In A Year, Am I Misguided?

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  1. #1
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    Question Learning Multiple Languages In A Year, Am I Misguided?

    I am planning on starting a website business and want to use WordPress multisite as my CMS. I will be creating hundreds of websites and need the ability to make them look very different and non-standard issue WordPress. From my understanding from browsing the WP Codex I will need to learn PHP, CSS, HTML, XML, JavaScript, JQuery, AJAX, and become familiar with the WordPress engine itself. Most of my customization of these websites will be purely theme based. I imagine I can start the business with a solid beginner/so-so intermediate knowledge of each language. It is just theme creation after all. All of the hard work is already done (WP Core) and XML/CSS/HTML is more about memorization than mastery.

    My Question: Am I shooting too high here? Is my chance of success ridiculously small? I figure I have about one year to learn whatever I can before I have to start building my WordPress web development business. I have always been good at figuring out code I haven't studied but I don't know enough to write code from scratch. I am a quick learner and have a good 8 hours a day to dedicate to learning and practicing.

    I would love to hear general feedback, suggestions, bad news, good news, anything you have to offer.

  2. #2
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    Most of them aren't really languages at all.
    From the start, XML and HTML are virtually the same thing, HTML can be learned in about half an hour. CSS and HTML go hand in hand, but you'd know the basics after a day. After that, it's a matter of learning the techniques of laying things out, which isn't programming at all really, but a mix of graphic design and some logical thought. That will either take a few days or forever.
    JavaScript is the first actual language you'll then encounter. You can either treat it as a fully-fledged language (as it is), and spend some time learning it correctly, or you can treat it as a pain for fancy effects and simply hack together little scripts to do things; that's your choice. JQuery and AJAX are JavaScript, if you learn JavaScript, you're talking about 10 seconds for the latter and 10 minutes for the former. To distinguish, JQuery is a library written in JavaScript to provide an alternative API, AJAX is a technique for communicating with the server.
    PHP is the same, but quite straight-forward. All the rest has nothing to do with programming.

  3. #3
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    Wow that is amazing news. Someone the other day said they would expect a project like this to require much longer than a year to prepare for. I really appreciate your detailed feedback.

    My primary question now is about JavaScript. In terms of web development where PHP is the primary focus for actual development of most of the site and its plugins, what else can you really do with JavaScript beyond the fancy effects?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mulsiphix View Post
    what else can you really do with JavaScript beyond the fancy effects?
    You can do form validation (e.g. make sure they typed in an email address). But basically JavaScript is to make things move on the page, change colors, hide/show expand/contract, etc. PHP runs on the server and JavaScript runs in the browser.

    I think it's going to be very difficult to learn all these things in a year, get to the point where you can produce quality work. I'd focus on HTML, CSS, PHP & Wordpress first (even that is going to be tough to do in a year). With that skill set you can make nice customized blogs. Then work on the JavaScript, Ajax and JSON. I think learning PHP and JavaScript at the same time is difficult because they're similar but different.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by handcraftedweb View Post
    I'd focus on HTML, CSS, PHP & Wordpress first (even that is going to be tough to do in a year). With that skill set you can make nice customized blogs. Then work on the JavaScript, Ajax and JSON.
    I've been asking over at the WordPress forums about how theme authors use JavaScript but I've been getting no replies. I've been doing a lot of research on the various commercial WordPress themes and while flashy, so far nobody is mentioning the use of JavaScript. I'm a bit baffled how JS is being used at all for WordPress theme creation. I know it can be done, but I would really like to know how theme authors are utilizing it in their work. Frustrating . Thank you handcraftedweb for your input. I'm really starting to think about waiting on everything JS all together.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mulsiphix View Post
    Someone the other day said they would expect a project like this to require much longer than a year to prepare for. I really appreciate your detailed feedback.
    Well, in my opinion, the hard bit is the design. I don't think you would have much difficulty getting the necessary tools in a year. The most important thing, in my opinion, is to simply practice the languages you learn and read voraciously about techniques, the latest ideas etc. The best practice is to try to build as many websites as you can, and then try to improve them. If you can get rid of a div, do, if you can lose a class, drop it etc.

    I would also recommend that you do things on your own first and then you move on to using things like Wordpress at a later stage. By being able to make it yourself, you'll be able to use Wordpress most efficiently.

  7. #7
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    Somebody over at the WP Forums has responded. They say that JS in WordPress is pretty essential if you want to do any real modifications to WordPress (example: adding options to the backend administration panel for clients). So my question is, would it be possible to learn both languages if I concentrated on getting a solid beginners knowledge of each and then started a project that used both PHP and JS together? I'm not sure if they go together well or how hard that would be at beginner level. Just getting a feel for it. No point in me trying if I am unlikely to succeed due to getting them confused while learning

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mulsiphix View Post
    Somebody over at the WP Forums has responded. They say that JS in WordPress is pretty essential if you want to do any real modifications to WordPress (example: adding options to the backend administration panel for clients). So my question is, would it be possible to learn both languages if I concentrated on getting a solid beginners knowledge of each and then started a project that used both PHP and JS together? I'm not sure if they go together well or how hard that would be at beginner level. Just getting a feel for it. No point in me trying if I am unlikely to succeed due to getting them confused while learning
    The problem with learning both PHP and JS in parallel is that they look similar (syntax) but are very different underneath (semantics). I'd get something working with PHP/WP before you reset you mind and tackle JavaScript, but I'm just conjecturing here.

  9. #9
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    Learn one first and then the other, probably PHP first (because that runs on the server, so you'll have less browser inconsistencies. So, I think the best approach is to learn the basics, then start building static webpages, then add little PHP elements (try building a database for CD information storage or something), then try to use AJAX so you don't have to refresh the page etc.

    I take it you've never programmed before?

  10. #10
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    I know there are WP themes for portfolios, and if those have slideshows or lightboxes or anything that moves, it would need JavaScript. But probably there are lots of people making WP themes and stuff w/o any JS, that's why I said to put JS off until you're comfortable with PHP/WP.

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