A Beginner's Guide to Web Development
Websites and The Internet
Today's world is a place where connectivity is no longer a luxury but a necessity. It is now a basic amenity, without which, easy living and staying updated would still remain a dream.
The Internet is a place where almost every person on the planet pays a visit each day. It is the answer to every imaginable problem because somewhere, someone, would have fought through the same misery and difficulty as ourselves.
Thus, instead of reinventing the wheel, the internet helps us to keep the wheel rolling!
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The ability to surf the vast amount of information is a pleasure but on the other hand, to be able to build monuments rather than just gaze at them is far more interesting.
Get Started: Search and Learn
One of the most important things in web development is to search. This unending quest for knowledge starts with a few simple searches on Google which sometimes lead to incomprehensible results and at times demotivating for beginners. So, it's very important to set smaller targets and to know what to look for.
Here are a few sites to help keep us on the right track:
Mozilla Developer Network: MDN is a great place to start along with other co-learners. It filters the results efficiently providing an adequate amount of information. This network can answer almost every question in the most precise way.
The New Boston : A cool website that actually promotes free education. As a beginner, I was a frequent visitor to the YouTube channel of this great person who knew almost everything. Later, I landed on a website where the very same instructor, along with other great instructors, shared his knowledge for free. Recommended for beginners, this site tells you about what languages are used now and how.
Stack Overflow : Ever had problems you couldn't solve on your own? Well, you now have Stack Overflow, which keeps the "stack of problems" from overflowing. This website gifts you with a very large study group that includes developers from all corners of the community. Regardless of being new or old - everyone can learn from the mistakes of others.
It works like a community sharing platform, where problems and related issues can be searched for and solutions by other people can be found.These answers are always in keeping us on the right path.
GET['started']: //learn to code
Hands on coding is the most important thing when it comes to web development. It really depends on what language the developer choose. Different platforms support different coding languages. For example LAMP, short for Linux Apache MySQL PHP, is generally used for running websites.
HTML/CSS: Hypertext markup language is the standard markup language to design the interface of how the website looks. Cascading Style Sheet is used to define styling patterns for various HTML elements on the page. Various softwares like Adobe muse are now available in the market for giving websites stunning features like parallax scrolling without getting their hands dirty with long codes. Although this makes things easy and lifts the burden off good looking front-end for websites, it is always good to learn the basics in order to style dynamic content and perform customizations on the website.
PHP: One of the most widely used languages for web development. It's easy to learn and scalable. It can be used as a function-oriented as well as object-oriented programming language. New programmers might need some time to get acquainted with its coding style, but once you get hang of it, it's one of the easiest language to develop efficient web-based applications.
It is also a server side programming language, which means it serves to manage server-side requests and handles response sent by the server and can be used to run queries and manage database. A personal favorite.
SQL: Database is the book-keeper of everything that goes on in the website. SQL, short for Structured Query Language, is essential for running queries (commands) to create, update, and perform operations on the database.
These SQL commands are triggered on request using PHP scripts, which run on the server.
Getting into Action!
Once you’ve learned these languages, you can start coding and developing websites from scratch or contribute to previously written code.
You can setup a MySQL database and a local server on your own machine to run and test server side code. XAMPP and WAMP are a few to name.
Starting from HTML tags and meta descriptions, you should first create a template about how the website should look and feel to the user. Next comes the dynamic updates of the content of the pages. Forms, buttons, and links can be used to trigger requests on the server. PHP then comes into play — it can receive requests and process information to perform database operations and respond with views and respective data.
API/plugin integration also plays a major role in the process of web development. Github is a pool of repositories that contain numerous plugins that saves us from reinventing the wheel.
Once the website has been developed, it needs to be transferred onto a live server. A domain name and a hosting space are two of the basic needs for a website to visible on the Internet. GoDaddy and bigrock are two vendors that sell similar services.
An FTP client can be used to upload the website’s files to a public folder for anyone’s viewing. A MySQL server can be setup in a similar fashion.
This should probably get a website up and running. If it still doesn’t work, the vendors provide customer support that will fix the issues.
SEO: Search engine optimization. A website developed may not always be found. Search engine optimization is primarily done through meta tags on the page and other SEO tools like Google Analytics.
These tools help increase the ranking of the website when certain tags are searched in any search engine. Google Analytics is generally used to view the search and website visit patterns. It also offers suggestions to improve search rankings for the website.
Security: Securing the website from various types of attacks like SQLi, DDoS,
MITM is one of the most important steps in keeping the website up and running.
I’ve only scratched the surface of web development — I’m sure you’ll run into more questions. Keep in mind, Google (Search Engine) is your best friend and it can often help you in the most difficult situations. All we need to do is ask the right questions and type in the right Keywords.
Other than this, the field of web development is vast and has no ends. There's always something new to learn. Each day, there are technological advancements — you should try to stay informed.
Don’t forget, the quest for knowledge never ends.
Here are a few links you might find useful!
- Mozilla Developer Network - Best developer community for learners
- The New Boston - Teach yourself for free
- Stack Overflow - Find answers to all your questions
- Codementor - A great place to find experts who can guide you
- PHP manual - A complete and updated guide to PHP
- Download XAMPP - Download a local server on your system to run and debug applications
- Github - A pool of repositories, also used as source control