How to become a web developer - Part 2

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In my last post I introduced my experience of becomming a web developer, but now I would like to share with you how I would recommend to get started if I was starting now. A lot has changed over the past 10 years and I woud definitley do things differently.

Learn HTML first

This may sound really obvious, but I would defintley ensure you are proficient at HTML before you start learning any web programming languages such as PHP, .NET or Java. This is because the end user is sent a HTML page in their browser that is combined from all your various files.

You need to think about the combined page and the code that is displayed and work backwards from that.

It’s quite easy to go straight into thinking about how you can make a page work and all of the functionality before thinking about how this page will be constructed and displayed to the user. This will ensure your final code is clean and well formatted. This will save you lots of time when it comes to bug fixing and maintaining your code in future.

Other developers love their JavaScript. They like to jump straight into coding in JavaScript without thinking whether it is really needed. You can acomplish a lot more than you could previously using HTML5 in modern browsers. There is some great articles on A List Apart for more information.

Buy a Mac

I used to think Macs were just for designers, but now I have learned the error of my ways. If you want to become a web developer then, technically, you can use any computer and find a way to make it work. But what I would say is that the majority of tutorials online are for Mac and Linux based operating systems.

I’ve learnt first hand that something that should take a few minutes to install on a Mac can end up taking hours on a PC. I’m assuming that you want to become a web developer for many reasons, but one of them is probably to earn some money. The most important lesson for any freelancer is that time is money, therefore, take the easier route that takes less time to set up and give yourself more time for your web development.

Also, tools seem to come out for Mac first and then someone has to port or convert it to work on Windows. This generally means that you will not be able to get the latest versions of everything.

The exception to this is if you want to learn .net. But then I would still reccomend buying a Mac and getting VMware Fusion to run Windows on your Mac. This gives you the flexibility to run Windows and Mac on the same device, halving your hardware costs, as well as giving you flexibility to develop for different hosting platforms (Linux or Windows). More information is available from Microsoft.

What next?

In the next couple of posts I’m going to talk a bit about version control and then frameworks and how they can help you getting started.

Tagged with training, learning, developer

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