Where to begin?

I really want to become an advanced web developer. My design skills are excellent and my html and css is intermediate, but I want to learn to develop cms sites. I love to code and have dabbled with php, javascript and wordpress. I have a basic understanding of these but would really like to extend my knowledge in these areas. I purchased the Wicked Wordpress and JQuery books to go through but I was wondering if I ought to begin with the Build Your Own Database Driven Website, then the Wordpress and finally the JQuery book? Where would you begin?

[ot]Stomme poes: “My job title: Markup Monkey…”

What a shame it’s not Markup Cat. :([/ot]

For basic learning go with w3schools.com tutorial.

i feel similar, but I’m primarily Front End Web these days.

I always wondered where back-end people get their kicks.

Writing programs in cool languages like Perl.
After all, Perl has stuff like The Joy Of MooseX:: —doesn’t that sound exciting? : )

The very tiny, tiny experience I’ve had of it makes it easy to understand. You want to create some kind of complex functionality, and it’s very exciting/satisfying when you’ve got it working.

I prefer front end aswel. For me it’s the most visual part and that’s fun.

I always wondered where back-end people get their kicks.
It’s fun to make interactive things with databases, but setting up the visual part afterwards is more my cup of tea. Or making the whole project is fun aswel, but than you have to be good in everything. I’m not good in anything I guess :frowning:

I’m curious, what are the qualifications for advanced developer? In all the job listings I have seen not once have I seen that combination of terms. Titles are more less a derivative of expertise and experience, not what you think you know or how many books you have read. Stop focusing on the title and learn what you want to achieve the position you would like. Titles are pretty much worthless. You can either do the job or you can’t – its really that simple.

You’ll find one big difference between the SJ book and the Live course: in the book, they use a custom library called Core to handle all the hairy IE stuff… in the course they use jQuery.

I’ve been using a version of Core for a few sites now and if you can avoid loading some large library (because you don’t need one for some small amount of JS you want) then it’s nice to have (you can take the basic default and remove lots of it and add in your own helper functions).

However when one of our sites was switched to jQuery, the Live course was good for helping me get started with jQuery with the code style I already had going.

BTW, I’ve ordered the Simply Javascript book, and signed up for JavascriptLive while also going through the Jquery Sitepoint book. Sitepoint certainly has some great material.

Hmmm. Fronteer vs my current title of Sr. <strike>Graphic Designer</strike> Puppet. Fronteer is mystical. I like that. :wink:

Two words in a row starting with “en” is a bit awkward.

Which is why it’s shortened to “Fronteer:slight_smile:

Before I say anything, I’ve never done CMS work so my opinion could be way off. The way you’re tackling the WordPress seems right to me. Get wordpress book and learn the technology needed to create extention/plugins. I’m guessing that’s the reason you’re thinking of using jquery. From what I’ve seen, people who can create AWESOME design templates are the one who has the most client. So, you may want to learn photoshop or such to create great logo’s and such. G’luck!

I truly appreciate your responses as they have helped me to clarify some things. It look like jQuery/Javascript is my next goal.

Any recommendations for accessible Javascript sources or reading material?

Thanks again.

W00t! I can do a drop shadow, a glow and bevel and emboss. Hang on while I register my web design company…

Uh, where’s your lens flare? That is absolutely a requirement in modern web design.

The SitePoint Book Matrix shows approximately what level each SitePoint book is aimed at (doesn’t show books released this year)

By far the best book on JavaScript I’ve ever read is DOM Scripting by Jeremy Keith - it’s aimed at intermediates and is all about producing quality scripts without any of that fluff which is obtrusive on the page. And Bulletproof AJAX (by the same author) is a great crash course guide on that interactive JavaScript AJAX mojo. I’m guessing you’re already aware of Accessibility / Usability principles in design (as there’s plenty of books there which are worth reading). :slight_smile:

The only way to become a true expert in a field or advanced overall developer is to have every next project more demanding than your current one. And that your projects aren’t simple websites used twice a month by a person disguised as a “client” paying you $10 every leap year.
Innovation comes because of necessity, not desire to be innovative. Every advanced developer out there became advanced due to tackling problems others haven’t found yet. I don’t want to discourage anyone, but a lot of book authors are biased or skip certain parts that would fall into “advanced” category.
I’m sorry to say this, and I’d be glad if I were wrong in your case - just by reading the books you won’t get to the advanced level you want.

I think your biggest immediate decision is which tier to focus on: front (as in browser), middle (as in PHP, JSP, etc., where business logic is usually coded) or back (database, generally, but also other components). It sounds like you want to focus on the front end.

In that case, Javascript and jQuery are two great places to start. There are several other Javascript libraries: Prototype, YUI, Dojo, MooTools and others (a bewildering array). But jQuery is probably the most widely used, so it’s the first one to learn, in my opinion. I think your Javascript learning can proceed in parallel with jQuery. Sitepoint has an excellent book on jQuery that also tries to introduce Javascript topics along the way.

Another great book is O’Reilly’s “Javascript: The Good Parts” but this is not a book for Javascript novices. Mark it down for future reference. I also recommend “Murach’s Javascript and DOM Scripting,” it is a pretty good introduction to the Javascript language, and all of the books in that series proceed in small, bite-size sections, an approach I like.

Both the jQuery and Murach books also devote some time to Ajax, which is a fundamental skill these days, and which is also blurring the line between the front and middle tiers. The jQuery book of course concentrates on the way that jQuery encapsulates Ajax calls. The Murach book shows you more of the rubber-meets-the-road view. I am all in favor of handling Ajax entirely through jQuery, but it’s still a good thing to learn about the ways to make Ajax calls directly in the different browsers.

I completely agree, and I would hope that no one reads a book and thinks their an expert. Unfortunately, as a trained artist turned graphic/ui designer, it’s common for someone to think that because they have photoshop and can add a drop shadow that makes them a designer.

When I “read”, I read to understand and code alongside the examples. I also reverse engineer others code to learn what works, why it works and how to break it. I also don’t refer to one resource but as many as I can get my hands on. This is how I became proficient in HTML and CSS. I simply—pun intended—wanted to take the next step in my web development which is why I posted the question here because I was unsure what that next step might be. And thankfully, I have received a lot of very informative and helpful advice here that has helped me clarify and focus on my next step. I also checked into everyone’s suggestions and the stickys in the Sitepoint Javascript forum. Good stuff!