Top 3 Reference Sites For Your Favorite Server-Side LanguageBy Kevin Yank
When you work with a server-side language, it’s invaluable to have a good source of recent information about the platform. Though SitePoint features great tutorials and an active and knowledgable forum community, we can’t provide the same focus that sites dedicated to a single language can. So here are my personal picks of the 3 best dedicated Web sites for each of the major server-side Web development platforms:
Flying in the face of domain name convention, this strangely-named site has long been the resource of choice for ASP developers in the know. About the only failing in this site is that it doesn’t give a whole lot for beginners to go on. The expert articles, FAQs and advice on this site, however, are second to none, and any ASP developer who doesn’t drop by this site regularly is really missing out. 4GuysFromRolla is the best of a number of ASP sites hosted by Internet.com. 15Seconds.com (for short, useful answers and code snippets) and ASP101.com (for ASP beginners) are not bad either.
ASPToday is a vast storehouse of knowledge on ASP, with a new, in-depth ASP article every single day! The catch is that you must subscribe ($99 for a year) to access this archive of over 500 articles. Wait, come back! ASPToday.com gives free access to the two most recent articles (yesterday’s and today’s), and lets you sign up to receive email summaries of new articles as they are published, so even if you can’t afford to subscribe you don’t have to miss any of the articles that are published from now on!
Resent it all you like, Microsoft themselves still have one of the best ASP sites out there! Spend some time in the MSDN Library and get to know what’s available. Get familiar with the layout of the reference material that’s available for your scripting language of choice (VBScript or JScript), and read the latest issues of MSDN Magazine. There’s a lot to see and navigation in this vast sea of knowledge can sometimes be a little tricky, so give yourself some time to get used to the layout.
It’s rare to find that the site dedicated to the development of an Open Source technology like PHP is also the most useful reference, but in the case of PHP this is definitely true! The main reason for this is the convenient PHP online manual where developers the world over are constantly posting comments and useful code snippets about all aspects of the language. Complete information about any function in the PHP language can be accessed by typing
http://php.net/functionName in the Web browser of your choice!
It’s not much to look at, but this site features by far the most comprehensive set of technical articles about PHP! If there’s something you want to do with PHP but you’re not quite sure hour, it’s usually a safe bet there’s an article on PHPBuilder that tells you how. If not, there’s a thriving community of PHP developers in their forums that almost certainly have the answer.
Another site that is more about information than attractive design, PHP Everywhere is a great place to check in every weekday for the latest on PHP and related technologies. On this site you’ll find everything from the latest new features to appear in the next release of PHP to the most exotic new extensions for your PHP-based server. Now if only you could subscribe to a weekly digest by email…
IBM has long been an advocate of Java technology, and this site proves that they are more than ever! If you do any regular work with Java, or are interested in learning about new and existing Java technologies, you should at the very least sign up to their weekly newsletter. This site provides the best mix of introductory tutorials and advanced tips and techniques that I have ever seen, and its strong focus on server-side Java technologies makes it the ideal one-stop shop for Java Web developers.
Hosted by O’Reilly and sponsored by BEA Systems, this site has a lot of industry muscle behind it and it shows! Rather than a general Java resource, this site focuses on Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE), the set of APIs that together make Java a force to be reckoned with on the server side of the Web. Invaluable articles as well as links to the latest resources and events, onJava.com should be among any Java developer’s bookmarks.
This is a useful, frequently updated news site that covers daily developments, product announcements, and other news related to Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE). It also features a repository of ‘patterns’ — code snippets for solving common problems in the Java Web development world.
Updated every two weeks, with five new articles every month, CF Advisor has been running since May 1998 and is packed with valuable articles, resources, job listings, and an index of ColdFusion Web hosts. This is the oldest CF resource site on the Web, and its commitment to quality content has kept it at the top of the pack all along.
I can’t say I care much for their layout or navigation, but CFHub provides the largest collection of ColdFusion resources on the Web in their (somewhat well hidden) directory.
Although still growing, this attractive site features the latest ColdFusion news, jobs, tag libraries, and more. They also have a nice collection of tips that are definitely worth a read.
Sponsored by O’Reilly, this is the official Perl site on the Web. In adition to a vast library of original articles, Perl.com also links to good articles featured on other sites on the Web.
Tracking the headlines of the Perl universe, this is the place to read and comment on what’s new and happening with this language.
The official Website of the quarterly supplement to Sys Admin magazine, The Perl Journal. The current issue is always available to read for free online, so if you work with Perl at all you should definitely be sure to drop once every few months to read the latest issue.