What web develpment basics are worth learning for an amateur programmer?



  • Hi everyone. I’m not a programmer by career, I’m a chemist but I have done some programming at work in our Access database using VB. I do get the VB and SQL WTF’s of the website.

    I’m now assigned to deliver the contents to a website via an admin account; however, I want to learn some web development basics in order to have a bigger view of the picture, get myself understood better by the web developer and not rely entirely on him. However, it seems that the amount of available web technologies is staggering and I would like to focus on something more widespread to add to my curriculum instead of something useless. Yes, I'm already aware of the "The real WFT is that you are using Access", that's one of the points of bothering learning something Web related. What should I learn?

    HTML4, XHTML or HTML5 (is the last one ever going to be completed?)

    Since CSS seems to be the part most focused on presentation, I think I should dedicate some effort to it. CSS2 or 3?

    Is Javascript or other client-side language worth it?

    How much different is MySQL related to the MS Jet Engine?

    I know the web developer uses a Symfony Framework and a Mac OS.

    In case you’re wondering why I’m looking for counsel here of all places, it’s because I want the complete, cynical truth instead of a language-biased response. It seems to be rather hard to get it in other places.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    HTML5 is usable on today's web. They're calling it a Living Standard now which basically means they're still tweaking it but implementations are interoperable.

    As to which server side platform is best, that's both flamebait and the $64MM question. I'm a fan of C#, which makes ASP.NET (MVC) appealing. YMMV

    CSS3 and Javascript are very much worth it, but actually study them before you dive in. So many horrible developers have thought "hm, I can kind of read that with no training!" and this site is a shrine to those folks.



  • @javert said:

    I’m now assigned to deliver the contents to a website via an admin account

    My understanding of this is that you are throwing the data into the webserver so that it can then serve up reports on it or whatever. Depending on how you are throwing the data at the webserver (and how the data stored) you'll need to know different things. But anyway on to your real questions.
    @javert said:
    HTML4, XHTML or HTML5 (is the last one ever going to be completed?)

    HTML in general is really easy to pick up so I'd say study up on it in general rather than trying to pick a subset. You could pick up enough to do both good and terrible things in an afternoon. In addition study up on DOM (Document Object Model) as you need it to help understand the things done with the later bits.
    @javert said:
    Since CSS seems to be the part most focused on presentation, I think I should dedicate some effort to it. CSS2 or 3?

    Unless you have to support out of date stuff 3. I'd suggest doing some basic things with it, but not focusing too much on the fancy parts as those let you do nifty things with lots of practice and are otherwise worthless.
    @javert said:
    Is Javascript or other client-side language worth it?

    Yes. Do basic javascript and then pick one of the popular frameworks (they will let you get lots more done with it in an easier manner).
    @javert said:
    I want the complete, cynical truth instead of a language-biased response

    No way to dodge the language-biased response.

    Another thing to look at is figuring out what the webserver will be using to put the pages served together. Due to the framework you said that will be used it's using PHP, which you could take a look at but be careful where you pull info from. It's widely used by less experienced people so a lot of the advice you find about it isn't actually good advice.



  • HTML5 is widely implemented (and it's really just an extension of HTML4 so 95% of it is the same.) Don't bother with XHTML, it's just XML-compatible HTML4, essentially, and there's no reason for it to exist.

    Some parts of CSS3 are widely-used. It's not like 2 and 3 are competing technologies, 3 is more-or-less an extension of 2. First find out what browsers you are going to support, then you know which CSS features you can use.

    If you're doing client-side scripting, yes. There are no other client-side languages worth worrying about, unless you're working with some really esoteric technology stack.

    If you're going to do light scripting, learn jQuery. If you're going to do a full single-page app, learn jQuery and AngularJS. But you're probably not close to ready for that yet.

    MySQL vs. Jet: I have no idea. If you're doing LAMP stack stuff, use MySQL. If you're doing .NET stack stuff, use SQL Server.

    Symfony is PHP. Does he use Mac OS for his development workstation or for hosting the application?



  • There are only two things you need to know.

    a) Javascript

    b) HTML.




  • @Nagesh said:

    There are only two things you need to know.

    a) Javascript

    b) HTML.



    I hate you.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @morbiuswilters said:

    Don't bother with XHTML, it's just XML-compatible HTML4, essentially, and there's no reason for it to exist.
    There's exactly one sane(-ish) use-case for XHTML: generating HTML from XML with an XSLT stylesheet. If you're doing that, you get XHTML.

    You tended not to see it very often though, at least client-side, because the support in IE for that sort of thing was historically so poor. I've no idea what would happen these days.



  • @dkf said:

    You tended not to see it very often though, at least client-side, because the support in IE for that sort of thing was historically so poor.

    Blizzard used to do that with their homepage and the World of Warcraft homepage. They took like 26 minutes to render.



  • @dkf said:

    There's exactly one sane(-ish) use-case for XHTML: generating HTML from XML with an XSLT stylesheet. If you're doing that, you get XHTML.

    That's not sane-ish. If you really want to offload rendering to the browser, use JSON and JS framework--widely-supported, less bloat and renders much faster.

    @dkf said:

    You tended not to see it very often though, at least client-side, because the support in IE for that sort of thing was historically so poor. I've no idea what would happen these days.

    Also, if you're doing public-facing sites it won't be crawlable. Better hope your clients don't know the meaning of "SEO". (Of course the same could be said of web pages rendered entirely client-side using JS, but: 1) there are lots of tools out there to make those sites crawlable; 2) you also shouldn't be doing a full page rendering in JS for a site you want crawlable. Use progressive enhancement and use something like PJAX.)



  •  Don't be a hater!

     @mikeTheLiar said:

    @Nagesh said:
    There are only two things you need to know.

    a) Javascript

    b) HTML.



    I hate you.

     


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @morbiuswilters said:

    That's not sane-ish. If you really want to offload rendering to the browser, use JSON and JS framework--widely-supported, less bloat and renders much faster.
    It worked fine enough 5 years ago or so. (The page in question had to be XML for a very particular crufty old tool that was it's primary consumer, and I couldn't get content negotiation in place, which is what I do these days.) Maybe the performance isn't so good now because nobody optimises for it any more?
    @morbiuswilters said:
    Also, if you're doing public-facing sites it won't be crawlable.
    Didn't need it. The sites linked all required a client-certificate to connect to anyway. What I did need was to deliver XML and yet not terrify the students who would (inevitably) look at it in a browser. I could've tried telling them to not look at all, but I didn't think it worth wasting my breath.

    Making everything work with SEO isn't the only goal of web systems. Some of us don't need to turn a profit from these things — or even be externally indexed — at all. Different economic forces here. (We already had the students' money.)



  • @dkf said:

    It worked fine enough 5 years ago or so.

    There was a front-page WTF several years ago about some relatively big company that did their public website this way. It was slow. Not unusable, just a few seconds to render a page which is absurd for static content.

    @dkf said:

    Making everything work with SEO isn't the only goal of web systems.

    Yeah, I know, that's why I said "public-facing sites". I didn't say you need to make web apps or web services crawlable by Googlebot, because that would be crazytalk.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    There was a front-page WTF several years ago about some relatively big company that did their public website this way.

    Was that the Sketchers one?



  • @mikeTheLiar said:

    @morbiuswilters said:
    There was a front-page WTF several years ago about some relatively big company that did their public website this way.

    Was that the Sketchers one?

    Yes Yes Yes...............


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