How to become a web developer?

There’s a HECK of a lot to learn to be able to do web development effectively. Just to be ABLE to do it, you have to learn:


  • HTML
  • CSS
  • PHP or some other server-side language

To do it EFFECTIVELY, you’ve got a lot more to learn:

  • SQL
  • JavaScript
  • libraries and frameworks
  • a bug tracking system
  • Subversion or some other revision control system
  • IDEs
  • other tools
  • Apache
  • Linux command line

To do it WELL, there’s even more:

  • usability
  • unobtrusive JavaScript
  • separation of concerns (MVC, etc)
  • testing
  • customer relations 
  • HTTP protocol
  • AJAX

I think that skipping PHP and the others and going straight to Rails is a good idea. Maybe. At least if he’s talented. But he’ll still have to learn a lot of things before he’s any good at creating a site. (Don’t forget that we found Rails easy to learn because we already knew a lot about web development.) He’ll still have to understand HTML and CSS. The Agile Web Development with Rails books is excellent, but it takes a lot to get through. If you’re the type who can read a manual to learn how to do something, then it’s fine. But if you need to start out with a tutorial, then you’ll need to start with a different book. If you do go this route, I’d recommend learning in this order:

  • HTML
  • CSS
  • Apache (as little as possible to get 2 virtual hosts running)
  • Rails
  • Subversion
  • Test-Driven Development
  • Ruby
  • SQL

If you want to make a living at it, I’d expect it to take at least a year of full-time (self-)education. Everyone learns differently, so it’s hard to recommend learning materials. I’ll offer some ideas though:

  • books (my favorite; I look for conciseness)
  • formal training classes
  • (community) college classes
  • local user groups (attend if topic is pertinent)
  • online videos/screencasts
  • podcasts
  • web tutorials
  • blogs (hard to get the basics though)
  • personalized training
  • mentoring

If he just wants to play around, I suppose the order is not as important. Learn things as they interest you. Eventually, you’ll find you’ve learned a ton and enjoyed doing it.

3 thoughts on “How to become a web developer?

  1. martintjandra

    wow… you put lots of lists in your blog… I think you have to switch from listing to storytelling, because article with too much lists can't be absorbed well, i think.

    i personally love PHP and CSS as the basic of website building. but with the very rapid development in website technology, i feel it's hard to keep up. but let's see how effective HTML5's implementation be in the internet.

  2. Mohit Tripathi

    The Core of WEbDEvelopmentr according to me is JAVAscript…! well this is the thing that intergrates with your whole site and gives best interpret-ion between the server and the user's computer.


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