Some questions on book publication years and back-end language.

I am new to Web Design/Web Development and would like your guidance.
I have a keen interest in car modifications. I would like to create a website which would allow users to upload photos/videos of their car modifications and to add a description with the upload. I would like other users to be able to comment on the modifications and up/down vote each modification in order to create a ranking/a favourite by the month/year. With each comment added it should grow the site’s activity levels.

I understand I will need to learn HTML/CSS/JavaScript as front-end languages. The Jon Duckett books are highly rated but some are quite old.
HTML and CSS - published 2011.
JavaScript and iQuery - published 2014.
PHP and MySQL - published 2022 (so current).

Question 1 - Would the above books, and their published years, still be current for someone learning today, or should I seek more recently published books?

Question 2 - If HTML/CSS/JavaScript are grouped together then should I purchase a book that teaches them all together, such as the below book?

I’m pretty set on needing to learn HTML/CSS/JavaScript and MySQL but the back-end programming language I am not set on. I see many books on PHP and MySQL together so I assume they are well suited to each other. I also understand that PHP (although quite often spoken negatively of on forums - even for PHP 8.x??) is suited to Web Development.
Question 3 - For my aim, is PHP and MySQL (such as the 2022 Jon Duckett book) a good choice of languages or should I choose Python, Go, Ruby, etc… as the back-end language and why?

Question 4 - I will be paying for the software (unless freeware) and hosting myself, so it would be nice to use languages that are cheap to host by a hosting service/company.

I do not wish for a career in hardcore software/web development. I dabbled with it many years ago and didn’t enjoy it. The enjoyment here will be the end result. However, should I find I do enjoy it and seek a change of career, I would be prioritising the number of opportunities rather than the high salary (meaning for instance - I’d prefer 100 job opportunities at $50k rather than 10 job opportunities at $80k). I would imagine many companies need web expertise and not necessary the full blown ASP.NET/C#/Java skillset. I am getting ahead of myself here but thought I’d mention this in case it sways the languages you suggest I use.

You may suggest I follow videos instead of purchasing books, but I find a good book will bridge the languages so it makes more sense, especially for a novice.

Finally, I’m aware a popular website has potential for generating revenue through advertisements. If my website becomes a success then I would like for this too. I’m mentioning it in case it influences what languages to use.

Thank you in advance.

I have the Jon Duckett books and I can tell you they are still relevant. Obviously there are a few enhancements since he wrote those, but all the code in them should still work (all be it the jQuery will degrade a bit more than the HTML as they have changed the version a bit. So confirm the examples with jQuery website documentation). Javascript has changed quite a bit, so I would read his book on jQuery and such and then browse some of the MDN (Mozilla Development Network) pages related to JavaScript to get up to speed. Mainly changes you would want to see is using let versus var, arrow function syntax, promises and ES6+ class construction. But again, the code in those books should still be recognized by modern browsers.

One last thing I will say about it is that you should always learn from multiple sources. So besides the books, read some blogs, ask questions on forums like this and don’t be afraid to share your code when you have a problem.

Question 2, I am not familiar with that book but I am not opposed to getting books grouped together like that. But do keep in mind that they do tend to run through all topics at a high level versus two books which both go in depth. If you are planning to be a mainstream dev one day, I would probably look at investing in two comprehensive books. However, if you just want to get a website up quickly and want to focus on another industry besides dev, a book like that will probably get you through fine.

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@Martyr2 thanks for your response.
I feel a book would bring all the languages together in an understandable manner. Although, the Jon Duckett books are good, as you say, things have moved on and it’ll be wise to purchase a newer book on the subject.
I do intend to utilise YT and forums for help but, so I do some leg work, I’ll complete a book and that’ll equip me well for the journey.

I have read that WordPress may achieve my aim. I understand that WordPress is written in PHP. If so, then it makes sense to learn PHP with rest (HTML/CSS/JavaScript/MySQL). My reservation is I often read many negative comments on PHP and how it’s not very good, and that it is only prevalent due to legacy sites. This worries me as if I am going to make the effort to learn a back-end language then I would like that language to be around (the choice) for a good few years, even if it’s just so my website stays secure/patched.
I’ve read good things about Python and I see it is very popular, however this may be due to its use being for web development, data analysis and electronics coding. That may not mean it is popular for web development, or at least more than PHP. Ruby is another language I’ve heard is good for web development (suited to web development), but if I learn this then it may alter my approach with WordPress.
Too many questions…

PHP has certainly got a bad rap in the past, but recent updates and versions have improved the language significantly. I would not worry about the viability at all about PHP. It is battle tested and some of the biggest sites use the language. Facebook has a hand in it and as you said WordPress powers nearly 33% of the websites out there. PHP 7 and onwards is very good.

Python is also a good choice but while I know all three (PHP, Python and Ruby) I would certainly rank them as such… PHP, Python and then Ruby when it comes to website languages I would work with. Ruby is nice but is losing a bit of steam on the web development front (the only real big platform that I know uses it still is Discourse… which this very forum is based). If you are absolutely against PHP, Python is a solid second choice. Do keep in mind that it will be harder to find hosts that support Python for web development than PHP which is nearly ubiquitous on web hosts.

Ultimately, it is up to you and what you feel speaks to you the most. I wouldn’t necessarily agonize over which of those languages to choose of those three. I just know PHP will give you more runway when it comes to literature, the community and troubleshooting material out there.

Fun fact for you, the “Big 3” CMS platforms (WordPress, Joomla! and Drupal), as well as WooCommerce, are all PHP based.


Thanks for the recommendation on the PHP > Python > Ruby for Wed Development. It’s good to hear that from someone who has used all three languages.
I would actually prefer to use PHP as that is what most books have, that I have seen, and should suit my intention. As I say, the concern was with so many groans about it, I was thinking it was poor. I would be purchasing a book on PHP 8.x so it should be teaching/showing me the ‘good’ version of PHP and so the groans would be irrelevant.

Interesting to read, thanks. I’ve only recently dabbled with PHP for web sites as a hobby, but I’m in a position where it might be nice to be able to apply the knowledge I’ve gained on here for some actual income, and it’s good to know that there is a market. I suspect where I will fall down is that there are many, many PHP developers who live in less costly areas of the world who are prepared to work for much less than I am.

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