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How to Become a Web Developer

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Ryan Burchey
Today, the web development industry is booming, and many people consider it to be their vocation. The question you may be asking yourself is – how do I become a web developer?
However, what is probably more important is that you ask yourself how to become a successful one. Because, there is a lot of web developers out there, but not all of them are on the right track to success. The journey takes time and effort, so in this article, I will do my best to equip you with the necessary knowledge and assets for you to become a successful web developer.


Starting with JavaScript


When you make the decision to dive into the world of web development, the first course of action is to cover all the necessary basics. You could start with learning JavaScript. A good way to do this is to choose some of the courses that Codecademy and CodeSchool have to offer. The former are free to use while you have to pay for the latter. Once you have completed the courses and learned the basics, you should take it to the next level and strengthen your JavaScript foundation with the book Eloquent Javascript: A Modern Introduction to Programming by Marijn Haverbeke. It is a popular book in the field, and while it is tough, it covers a wide variety of programming concepts and will enable you to truly have a hold on JavaScript.


HTML & CSS


The next step is to learn the fundamentals of HTML & CSS. CodeSchool’s HTML & CSS learning path contains great courses that cover a great scope of what is necessary for you to learn, and also have a great pacing. If you’re not satisfied, you could go for Codecademy’s HTML & CSS course, or try out something harder such as Udacity’s Intro to HTML and CSS, which has a complete overview and presents you with a challenge. Another alternative is to get a hold of Jon Duckett’s book called HTML and CSS: Design and Build Websites. Once you have gotten a hold of the basics of CSS, you should improve on how clean it is with one of two methodologies: SMACSS or BEM.


Less & Sass


Less & Sass are CSS source-to-source compilers that enable you to elegantly write CSS. What they do is that they compile your code and then convert it to regular CSS. Sass is more popular, but Less is easier to learn. WinLess’s Online Less Compiler offers you a fast and complete overview of Less, with code examples that show you how the Less code is converted into CSS. With SassMeister you can give Sass a try online, though it doesn’t offer code examples. Essentially they are similar, so you can choose the one that better suits you.


Responsive design


Previously mentioned HTML & CSS learning path by CodeSchool has the information you need on responsive design, but you could also go for Google’s course on Udacity which is called Responsive Web Design Fundamentals. It’s a great course that covers all the necessary basics. You should know that it's a lot easier to do a responsive design with a framework such as Bootstrap. Bootstrap offers official documentation that makes it easy for you to start working with it.


AngularJS


In order to learn what AngularJS is and how it improves making web apps, you should check out Design Decisions in AngularJS, by Misko Hevery, a Google developer. The best course material you can find is on Egghead.io, which offers both free and paid courses. They will help you learn the basics, such as what a controller, filter or $scope are. One of the best courses is AngularJS Fundamentals.


Design patterns


Design patterns are code solutions that you can use multiple times in order to solve common software issues. Learning them will help you be a more competitive software developer and also make it easier for you to understand other people’s code. There are two ways you should try out in order to learn them. One doFactory’s JavaScript Design Patterns, and the other is a book by Addy Osmani called Learning JavaScript Design Patterns.


Chrome DevTools


Chrome is one of the best tools a web developer can use, and it will save you a lot of time later on if you master it as soon as possible. In order to get yourself acquainted with DevTools, you should check out CodeSchool’s free course Explore and Master Chrome DevTools.


Git (Version Control)


Git is a great tool that enables you to track the changes made to your code so that if anything goes wrong, you can simply revert to a previous state. Furthermore, it makes it possible for you to see the entire history of your code. You can go for CodeSchool’s courses Try Github and Git Learning Path to learn Git’s fundamentals.


Task Runners


Task runners are tools that enable you to automate common tasks. For example, when it comes to Less/Sass, you would normally be forced to run the CSS compiler every time you make a change, and manually update the browser. A task runner can be used to look out for changes in Less/Sass, and then automatically compile your CSS and refresh the browser.
The two most popular task runners now are Grunt and Gulp. They basically do the same thing, but Grunt is more oriented towards configuration, while Gulp is shorter to write and pays more attention to the code. Scotch.io offers courses on Grunt and Gulp that can help you out.


Further steps



After you become acquainted with the necessary knowledge and tools, everything comes down to further improving on what you know. Even after starting Ryanswebdesign, I still follow up on latest changes and trends, as it is key to never stop learning. Educate yourself, keep your code clean, love what you do, and always be willing to share your knowledge with others.
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by:Brandon Lyon
Good article.

Angular JS is one of many options for learning javascript display+controller logic. If someone is trying to learn Angular but is struggling to understand then they might want to try another framework like React, Riot, Ember, Polymer, Vue, or Meteor. I had a really hard time following Angular but had a much easier time learning React, Polymer, and Meteor. Learning at least one js framework will give you an idea of how to work with the others and how to structure larger or more complex applications.
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Expert Comment

by:Gina Lofaro
Well bless your cotton socks, Ryan! Thank goodness someone else can do the jobs I can't fathom. I've been writing websites for clients for 11 years and I like to stick to my lane (writing quality copy). The thought of trying to code/design/build a website does my head in. We all have our strengths, don't we? For me, it's words ... not graphics, not design, not accounting. I know from working with you that your level of service is outstanding so there's no question about you being a "successful web developer"! I enjoyed your post (even if it did make my head spin a bit)!
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