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Thread: What Do I Need To Learn To Become A Web Developer

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2004

    What Do I Need To Learn To Become A Web Developer

    Hello, I am totally new to web design, but I would like to know if anyone would be willing to give me information on:
    1. What programs I will eventually need to learn to become a successful web developer.
    2. Can you become a self taught web developer or does one need to go to school for it.
    3. What made you become interested in web development?

    The programs that I currently have are:
    Dreamweaver MX (which i've never used)
    Adobe Photoshop 7.0 (i'm an almost advanced user)
    Adobe Photoshop Cs (never used)
    Adobe Illustrator 7.0 (never used)

    Thanks in advance for all of the advice and input!!!!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Nashua, NH
    First thing you need to learn is not to cross-post

    Working web site is not the one that looks the same in a few graphical browsers, but the one that adequately delivers its content to any device accessing it.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    The first two things you'll need are a text only editor and a hell of a lot of patience. I started out with Notepad from Microsoft and an internet connection and as far as I'm concerned, I'm doing pretty well.

    I strongly recomend not Using Dreamweaver at all until you have learned html. Don't worry, html is easy to grasp to start with. Here's the one big trick to getting to grips with html: Do not think of it as anything complicated or special like a programming language. It is not a programming language and is used for nothing more than simply giving meaning to the content of your documents. Just think of it al a highlighter pen. Y'know, those disgustingly coloured pens that you use to mark up texts and scripts. Like say you have a script for a part of a play with two people in it called Ben and Jane. You'd use one colour to mark all Jane's lines and another to mark all Ben's lines. That way you can see which parts are which at a glance. Well html is pretty much the same thing. You wouldn't believe how many people ask how to build a forum with html because they assume it to be something which makes everything on the net. It isn't.

    So. Learn HTML and CSS. By the time you learn those, you will have an idea of whether you have the patience and enthusiasm for it still. If you do, then you might consider Javascript. I consider Javascript to be generally useless, but it's a great way of stepping in to server side languages (javascript is NOT a server side language but will give you some idea of how scriting and mark up differ, without going to the trouble of getting hosting to learn a server side language).

    Once you've got HTML CSS and Javascript nailed, you'll then be in a position to decide where to go next. Those three are your core basics. You need to learn them really before you start wandering off on to other things. The sheer volume of learning that is involved in this business is amazing. You can branch off into so many different things. It can be overwhelming at times, so it's usually best to get your basics down first.

    Oh and we're always here for any help you'll need. A forum like this is probably the best learning resource you'll find. It'll expose you to all kinds of other stuff you can look into as you learn and is also a great place for discussing (or reading discussions of ) development techniques and getting advice.
    I'm thuper, thanks for asking.

    It lives! http://www.stephenphilbin.com/ (Well it kinda' does anyway).
    My portable colour selection tool

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    midlands uk
    I agree with mr herer.

    you must learn html coding by hand. It may seem duanting if you have no experience with html but its not hard.
    if you use a wysiwyg editor straight off you will find it will take you longer to learn it because you become 'lazy'. also when it comes to cleaning up the code it will be easier to spot code you dont need.

    css is the next step.

    i learnt javascript next which i think still has its uses.
    after learning javascript i started learning php which is very similar to javascript.

    I am now well into learning dreamweaver mx 2004.
    The one thing that i have struggled with is the visual design of sites.
    2 great books on the design side are
    robin williams web design workshop and
    robin williams design workshop.

    superb books if you dont have a design background like myself.

    im now learning to use php with mysql.

    now comes putting it all together.

    highbury entertainment publish a great magazine called practical web projects.
    which guides you through creating a complete site using dreamweaver,freehand,fireworks,flash,server scripting, databases

    highly recommended.

    when i started learning web design i did a course(ciw certified webmaster)which gave me a qualification. but i felt it was money i should of spent else where.
    i dont think employers in the web design industry are interested in qualifications its experience that counts and having a good portfolio of sites is much more important.

    Yes there is a vast amount to learn.so get the basics right.

    I can remember when the air was clean and sex was dirty.

    shepherd web design

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Thank you both so much for your input which now brings me to my next question, what is the best site/book that I can go to to learn HTML,CSS, and Javascript?
    Is it best to just take one at a time, or can you combine learning all three around the same time?
    Is it your goal to work for a company as web developer or is your main goal to start your own web dev business?

    Thanks again for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    With regards to learning each sequentially or all at once, I'd say do it sequentially if you can resist the urge to try and make your pages look how you want whilst you learn html. Then once you have your html well formed and to a good standard then move on to CSS to learn how to colour and decorate your sites. Without CSS your pages will look quite ugly and dry like this page. But when you add CSS it transfoms completely. That same page when my current CSS is applead to it looks very different indeed. Ok, so the page is still ugly as sin, but that's just me not bothering to finish it because I'm busy. If it were a paying client or something you were bothered about looking nice, then you can make things as pretty as this. When doing html, always validate your mark up to make sure it is well formed by submitting it to the W3C html validator (http://validator.w3.org/). Likewise you should validate your CSS when you use CSS too. The address to the CSS validator is http://jigsaw.w3.org/css-validator/.

    When it comes to javascript, it gets a bit different. It's a bit wierd in the sense that whilst you should learn it, you should also avoid using it. Or to satisfy some of the more picky members: Never use it in a situation where your pages require it to function and always investigate and consider alternatives to non critical uses of javascript. An example of this might be the default value of a text area. Whilst the page will not require the text area start with the default value you want to function properly, it may still be handy for convenience. So it'd be ok to use Javascript there, but there are other ways of setting a default value which would be preferable and more reliable than Javascript. <textarea>default text value</textarea> being the most glaringly obvious solution.

    The best reason for learning JS (as far as I'm concerned) is that it is a good stepping stone onto server side languages. It lets you get a basic feel for how things go on that side, without actually having to worry about getting a server to learn the server side language.

    Most programming languages use the same basic control structures of if/else clauses and loops to get things done and JS is no exception. So you can get the swing of 'em on JS before diving into more involved stuff.
    Last edited by Mr Herer; 12-16-2004 at 03:05 PM.
    I'm thuper, thanks for asking.

    It lives! http://www.stephenphilbin.com/ (Well it kinda' does anyway).
    My portable colour selection tool

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    midlands uk
    i learnt javascript from
    javascript the definitive guide

    css from
    cascading style sheets the definitive guide

    from o'reilly at www.oreilly.com

    i learnt html in a classroom but oreilly do a book called html and xhtml the definitive guide which if its as good as the other two books will be excellent.

    xhtml is the same as html but with stricter formatting and you should be aware of it.

    i would say learn html on its own first. this should not take you too long (3-4 months to master).

    then learn css . i learnt to use tables for positioning and css for styling first before moving on to positioning (i still find this difficult somtimes because of browser compatability).
    will porb take 3-4 months to learn i keep having to dip into the book though.

    after that learn javascript .to get a full understanding of javascript you will need to be good with html/css.
    allow a year to learn. i would say that im an intermediate javascripter which i feel is good enough because of its limited uses.
    i have no intention of mastering it. there are far more important things (php being one) to learn.

    i have been doing web design for exactly 2 yrs. The main goal for me is to create an online portfolio of about 4-5 sites ive done.
    i will use this to show prospective employers and hopefully get a job in a web design company.
    if i cant get in anywhere i will continue until i feel confident enough to work for myself.
    the first website i ever done is www.trafalgarelectronics.co.uk which i did for virtually nothing.
    currently working on my third project.

    also this forum is a very good learning source and can save you a lot of head scratching.
    I can remember when the air was clean and sex was dirty.

    shepherd web design

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Thanks again for all of the input it is really helping out.

    When it comes to HTML, is it more of a memorization thing?

    Do people in this field really remember all of the coding info in regards to HTML, or is it common have a cheat sheet or something to that effect if for whatever reason they seem to forget something?

    I guess my real question is if you can grasp the concept of HTML, and the reason and purpose for certain tags, in order to be proficient and considered to be a "web developer" would one have to know everything perfectly without having to go back and reference if a blank is drawn?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    midlands uk
    since there is a vast amount of information that you have to absorb
    it would be almost impossible (unless youve got a photographic memory) to remember everything.
    i certainly have to reference 'cheat sheets' every now and then.
    as i progress i need to refer to these less and less (for html).

    Im sure even the most advanced web developer needs them from time to time.
    I can remember when the air was clean and sex was dirty.

    shepherd web design

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    As far as I'm concerned. A solid and intuitive grasp of html is THE essential core skill.You should really be able to write your HTML with little or no reference required. Although with other vital extenal relational aspects of web design, you should refresh yourself regularly. Especially if you are under the impression you don't need to go back and refresh on them. The web content accessibility guidelines are one such set of guidelines you can never read too many times. In my opinion, you should still go back for a read of these even if you tink you know it all by heart. You should consider these guides essential. Don't worry about meeting every single requirement for ever single page, this is often impossible and to start with, you will likely not even know what many of them mean untill you read up a bit more. Don't go thinking you're some kind of web dev failure if you can't meet them, the important thing is that you just do your best to try to meet them. Remember, any improvement in the accessibility of the content on your page is still an improvement. No matter how small.

    On the other hand, Javascript is about as low on my list of priorities as you can get. I spent about two weeks getting the general swing of things and then paid it no further mind. I have an ECMAScript manual lying about on my computer somewhere for reference and that about as much learning as I'm willing to spend on it. If there's some scripting on the client side that needs doing and I don't know it, then I'll have a peek on the DOM documentation and in the manual and I'll just throw it in. On the whole though, I consider learning Javascript to any degree of intuitive proficiency to be a complete waste of time. There are FAR more important things to learn than client side scripting.

    Server side scripting is fantastic once you get on to it. It's like web developer emancipation. Many of the things you'll probably like to build will require a server side language (such as email forms) just don't let the tempation of them distract you from learning your real core skills though. The importance of clean and well formed mark up, built with accessibility in mind can never be stressed enough.
    I'm thuper, thanks for asking.

    It lives! http://www.stephenphilbin.com/ (Well it kinda' does anyway).
    My portable colour selection tool

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Programming is not all.
    you also need to understand basic concepts like web client, web server, client-side programming, server-side programming,...

    (you may find these concepts trivials, but some web developpers do not understand them well and do not understand what they're programming)

    Here are some diagrams which explain these basics :

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    New York, USA
    I'd recommend Creating Web Pages with HTML by Patrick Carey, Published by Course. It's a tutorial that teaches HTML, CSS, and javascript.

    The're website is
    www.course.com. For server side you might want to learn PHP first as it has some similarities to javascript. SQL is also a very big thing for web developers.

    As far as being sucessful, I've found many employers want years of experience or a BS in Computer Science. There are positions out there for those who are self taught but the're harder to find.

    Best of luck!
    Last edited by baseiber; 12-20-2004 at 01:38 PM.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    You can use notepad to create your HTML which will force you to learn HTML without the WYSISYG drag and drops, but you don't have to go that primitive. Try CuteHTML by Globescape:



    It is a text editor, but it's more friendly - has tag assist and color coding. I know, these are probably looked down upon, but they will help you learn when you are writing and reviewing code. It's not a drag and drop, so it does force you to learn the code. I used this to learn, and I know many other people who found it useful.

    We currently use Homesite which is a very good HTML editor. This would also help you in learning HTML. Homesite is now part of Macromedia, so you know it can't be all that bad.

    Good luck,
    Last edited by bagwoli; 12-21-2004 at 02:06 PM.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    New York, USA
    textpad and htmlpad are also good text editors. I prefer textpad myself.

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