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  1. #1
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    Help me take the leap into Web Programming? Guide/Blueprint Needed

    Hi all!
    I need a little direction and was wondering if you guys can maybe point me on the right path. I'm a digital media major who has always enjoyed web design and decided that I would take the leap this year and begin learning the craft of web design/code. The issue I'm having at the moment is that there seems to be a lot of programming choices one can learn and I'm kind of jammed up on which direction I should be heading in...

    My ultimate goal would be to create a site that is interactive yet clean, kind of like the site below...

    http://cowbird.com/

    Problem is I have no idea what programming languages are required to make something like that.

    I'm just starting to learn Html/Css but could seriously use a blueprint on what I should be learning next to reach my goal by the end of the year.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  2. #2
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    Mikl's Avatar
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    HTML and CSS are the bread and butter of web design and development. Whatever direction you eventually take, you really must start by getting a good grasp of those two technologies.

    The third item on the list should be JavaScript. You might end up not needing a deep knowledge of JavaScript, but you should definitely be familiar with the basics.

    After that, you should choose a server-side development tool. That might be PHP, or .NET, or one of several other possibilities. But I would advise you not to make that choice until you are more familiar with the fundamentals.

    Mike

  3. #3
    It's all Geek to me silver trophybronze trophy
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    Hi ScotchTape88. Welcome to the forums.

    You are right to start off with HTML and CSS, as they are what you see when you visit a website, and without them, you can't do much. But then, to get things happening on the site, it's worth learning a server-side language like PHP, and also some client-side JavaScript if you need fancy things to happen like slideshows.

    To build the site you linked to with all its functionality requires HTML, CSS, JavaScript and PHP (even though something other than PHP may have been used for that site ... We can't know from looking.) But PHP is the most common server-side language for the web, so it makes sense to learn that.

    In terms of JavaScript and PHP, they take time to learn, but you can also skip a lot of steps by 1) using a ready-made content management system (CMS) that comes with the server-side code (normally in PHP) you need to do things like search forms and so on. And instead of learning JavaScript, you can use ready-made scripts that come along with libraries like jQuery. For example, you can have a very fancy slideshow on your web page in a matter of minutes by using code that others have written already. So you don't have to be an experienced programmer to build that site you linked to, but the more programming experience you have, the better.

  4. #4
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    Mikl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ralph.m View Post
    .... and also some client-side JavaScript if you need fancy things to happen like slideshows.
    Ralph,

    I agree with most of what you say, but I wouldn't want ScotchTape to get the idea that JavaScript is only for fancy things like slideshows. As I'm sure you'd agree, it can help you perform all kinds of basic tasks, such as showing messages in their own windows, selectively hiding and revealing content, performing simple form validation, displaying alerts, and so forth.

    I would rank JavaScript below HTML and CSS in terms of importance, but above (or perhaps equal to) a server-side tool like PHP.

    Mike

  5. #5
    It's all Geek to me silver trophybronze trophy
    ralph.m's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikl View Post
    I wouldn't want ScotchTape to get the idea that JavaScript is only for fancy things like slideshows. As I'm sure you'd agree, it can help you perform all kinds of basic tasks, such as showing messages in their own windows, selectively hiding and revealing content, performing simple form validation, displaying alerts, and so forth.
    Yep, all those fancy things too.

    I'm not too keen on most of that stuff, but most of it is fine as long as the page works tolerably with JavaScript turned off. To me, it's a real fail if important content is inaccessible with JS off ... not to mention with JS on!

  6. #6
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    Mikl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ralph.m View Post
    I'm not too keen on most of that stuff, but most of it is fine as long as the page works tolerably with JavaScript turned off. To me, it's a real fail if important content is inaccessible with JS off ... not to mention with JS on!
    Yes, that makes sense. I've found quite a few uses for JavaScript, but they're not things I can consiser "fancy". For example, I use it to obfuscate email addresses, and very occasionally for a simple tabbed navigation. But I always make sure it degrades gracefully if JS is not enabled.

    My main point is that JavaScript is less important than the HTML / CSS in terms of what a beginner should learn, but perhaps more important than server-side languages.

    Mike

  7. #7
    It's all Geek to me silver trophybronze trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikl View Post
    My main point is that JavaScript is less important than the HTML / CSS in terms of what a beginner should learn, but perhaps more important than server-side languages.
    You may well be right, although I've lately turned from learning JS to PHP, as I'm starting to see it as more useful and reliable ... though it depends on what one needs to do. The advantage of HTML + CSS + JS is that you are pretty much a complete "front-ender" (so to speak) which makes sense.

  8. #8
    Robert Wellock silver trophybronze trophy xhtmlcoder's Avatar
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    Off Topic:

    That demo website has appalling web accessibility it won't even allow you to use it without JS enabled; not a good example of how to code a NOSCRIPT message.

  9. #9
    SitePoint Zealot coloradojaguar's Avatar
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    If you are just beginning there are many web tutorials you can consult. Personally, when I started, I used a web editor and went back and forth between the HTML view and the WYSIWYG view. It helped me to learn the tags and how certain commands looked within the code. Once you have a good handle on CSS and HTML then I would start on PHP.
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  10. #10
    Robert Wellock silver trophybronze trophy xhtmlcoder's Avatar
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    HTML5 is completely different and still mainly non normative so typically you'd be better using HTML 4.01 regarding the markup aspect.

  11. #11
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    It really depends what you need/want to do, but I would put Javascript and server-side languages at the same level. In my day-to-day job, they are both indispensable.


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