Menjadi Web Developer
I’m not gonna lie to you, to become a good web developer isn’t easy.
While it might take some time it is possible to teach yourself everything you need to know. If you put in the effort and focus on the right things you will get there.
So lets get into it.
Part 1, building a foundation.
In the first part of this series of posts we will look at the foundations of the web and focus on the core technologies and concepts anybody who wants to become a web developer should know.
Even if you are an experienced developer it’s worth spending a little bit of time going back to basics and making sure you have a rock solid foundation.
If you know and understand all these concepts you should be able to build any static website. Later on we will look at web frameworks, server side programming, data visualisation and more. For now we are focusing on the basics.
HTTP – The transport layer
Every single thing you do on the web is built on top of HTTP, serving web pages, REST API’s, webservices. All of these technologies use HTTP as their transport protocol.
When learning HTTP make sure you understand:
- How the request response model works.
- Headers and what they are used for.
- The stateless nature of the web.
- Cookies and their purpose.
- The main HTTP verbs and the difference between them.
- HTTPS and certificates.
- Caching and all the places it could occur
Have a look at this HTTP tutorial to brush up on your HTTP knowledge.
HTML – The content layer
HTML is a markup language that is used to describe the content you produce on the web. HTML is combined with CSS by your browser to display information. HTML should be used to describe the content of your document and it’s structure. Not what it looks like. This way of thinking about HTML is called semantic HTML.
Courses and tutorials:
CSS – The presentation layer
Cascading style sheets are used to dress up your content. It’s a language that is used to describe to the browser how you want your HTML rendered.
Does writing CSS feel like this to you?
Because CSS seems fairly simple it’s easy to pick up the basics by just fiddling around. Learning it this way often means you write CSS much like Peter Griffin in the image above. You try random stuff until it works or you just give up. If you have had this experience you are not alone. Luckily there are a few basic concepts that will allow you to actually understand what’s going on.
- The box model
- How CSS relates to the DOM
- Specificity, inheritance and cascading
- Absolute vs relative positioning
- Absolute positioning inside relative positioning
- Understanding CSS layout techniques
If you are an absolute beginner at CSS it’s worth checking out the teamtreehouse courses on CSS, I recommend the following order:
Once you have a grasp of the basics learn these techniques:
Volume 1: The Early Years
Act III: Function the Ultimate
Episode IV: The Metamorphosis of Ajax
Part 5: The End of All Things
Scene 6: Loopage
Level 7: ECMAScript 5: The New Parts
Section 8: Programming Style & Your Brain
Version Control – Looking after your code
Version control systems help you keep track of multiple versions of your code and allows you to undo changes as well as create different versions of your code base. There are many VCS systems but because of github GIT is by far the most popular one.
To get to grips with the basics:
Tooling: Giving you a head start
One of the places with the largest room for improvement in the web development space is the use of tools to speed up the development process. Front end development is a little late to the party when it comes to opinionated tooling frameworks. In recent years yeomanand it’s associated projects have made great strides in kickstarting new projects, prescribing best practices and providing tools to help you stay productive.
Yeoman is a robust and opinionated client-side stack, comprising tools and frameworks that can help developers quickly build beautiful web applications. They provide everything you need to get started without any of the normal headaches associated with a manual setup.
Have a look at the videos below for more in-depth information on why you should get to know yeoman.
Build tool: Automate everything!
Why should you bother with a build tool?
In a word: Automation.
Build tools (or task runners) allow you to automate repetitive tasks like minification, compilation, unit testing, linting, etc. Additionally it allows you to specify task dependencies and the build tool will ensure that tasks are run in the correct order.
My two favorite build tools are Grunt and Gulp:
- Grunt:The Grunt ecosystem is huge and it’s growing every day. Grunt is very popular so there are hundreds of plugins to choose from. If you are new to web development and web tooling I would start with Grunt, there are more packages available and it uses configuration instead of code to set up your builds so it’s a bit easier to get started.
- Gulp:Gulp is slightly newer than Grunt and as such doesn’t have quite the number of packages or the community that Grunt has. There are some major advantages when it comes to the speed of your build though. Besides the speed benefits Gulp also uses code instead of configuration. This makes it a bit easier to build highly custom tasks. Have a look at Gulp if you have very large builds and need faster build times. This is a project to watch.
Packaging systems: Lego for the web.
Packaging systems take existing libraries and tools like jQuery, Bootstrap, Moment etc and converts them into re-usable packages that are versioned and centrally stored. This allows you to declaratively specify the components you use and their versions. The package author can also specify dependencies and your packaging system will automatically install all the required packages for you.
Packaging systems to check out:
Media queries and responsive design.
The number of devices that people use to browse the web has exploded. We as web developers have had adapt by learning to design for multiple form factors. Responsive Web design is an approach that suggests that design and development should respond to the user’s behaviour and environment based on screen size, platform and orientation.
Teamtreehouse has a great project that takes a non responsive site and modifies it to be responsive.
Some other links you might want to check out:
- A collection ofresponsive sites you can use as inspiration.
- Guidelines for responsive web designfrom smashing magazine.
- Mashable onresponsive design.
CSS processors: Fixing CSS
CSS preprocessors take code written in a preprocessed language and processes it to produce valid CSS. Preprocessors try to work around some limitations in CSS by adding things like variables, mixins, functions etc.
For an introduction to what CSS pre-processors are and why you should use them:
The most popular CSS preprocessors are:
Front end libraries
Some frameworks to check out:
- Semantic(I really like where semantic is going, keep an eye on this one)
To get a feel for developing sites in both Bootstrap and Foundation try this course onframework basics. For a more in depth look at bootstrap have a look at the “Building websites with Bootstrap 3” course.
HTML template processors allow you to bind data in a JSON document with HTML templates to produce the markup for your site. They allow you to reduce duplication in your code and make it much simpler to make changes to the site over time. There are many many to choose from, try a few and see which one you prefer.
UI framework: Building rich web apps
UI Frameworks help you take the complexity and user experience of your web apps to the next level. For an in depth look at UI frameworks and how they differ have a look at thisexcellent post (it’s a bit old but still valid). UI Frameworks typically provide 2 way data binding, some kind of templating system, client side routing etc.
These frameworks can be quite complex and have a bit of a learning curve at times. If you want to build rich, 1 page apps they are more than worth the effort to learn.
Once you have mastered all the concepts and technologies above you should be able to build and maintain some pretty complex sites.