Question to web designers currently working for companies in the web design industry (as apposed to freelance)

I'm looking to get into the web design industry firstly working for a development house and then possibly onto freelancing. I have one concern that is making me nervous about this though. With the large amount of knowledge required to be a web designer these days, especially with the stupid amounts of languages and differing syntax that has to be used, how do you web designers keep a handle on it all in a live environment?

Let me explain myself a little better. I have designed a number of sites to try to build my portfolio. I have used HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Flash Actionscript, ColdFusion, PHP and MySQL. I can also use VB and am looking at developing my ASP. When designing sites for these people I always came across situations where I couldn't remember which syntax to use for a certain thing but as I was designing these from home I had no worries as I could always use books for referral points. So this brings me to the point of what happens in development houses with professional web designers. There MUST be times when the different languages have confused you or you can't quite remember how to do this one thing that you learnt once 5 years ago but haven't used since. I don't want to get a job with a company, forget something and then look it up only to look like a complete amateur who doesn't deserve the job.

Any advice will be gratefully received.
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Hi m4ttycfm,

That's exactly the problem to us all, who work with different programming languages! I have no answer for you, except take a look at the books when in doubt...
If you use any programming tool that checks the syntax and spots an error for that same language, you're ok! If not... you'll find out when compiling / executing the application.
Just an example: A simple If...EndIf: Some languages end with "End If", some with "Endif", some with "If End" and some with ";"... Yes, that's a trouble!
My hint, and what I use when someone's watching my mistyping: "Oops... that's for another language... Not this one...". This way you're showing that you know several lamguages... :)

Carl TawnSystems and Integration DeveloperCommented:
I really wouldn't worry about it. Nobody is going to expect you to know every little caveat or know the entire syntax of these languages off-by-heart, and if they do then they're just not being realistic.

Try not to be intimidated by existing employees. The tendency, for me anyway, is to think "oh my god, they'll all be brilliant and i'll look like an idiot". Trust me, it ain't true.


As mentioned above, everybody uses the manual, that's the reason for a reference manual in the first place.

If you are using the right tools you can have contextual help a couple of clicks away. In such scenario consulting the manual would be much faster than doing a trial and error run.

Now, about the languages, I believe it is a gigantic waste of time to learn several non-complimentary languages. In terms of languages for the web a developer needs to know:
- HTML for page structure
- CSS for presentation
- Javascript for client-side scripting
- A server side language for server side scripting
- A DB engine

It would make no sense at all to be an expert in both javascript and vbscript for the client-side, just as much as it makes no sense to be an expert in PHP, ASP and ColdFusion at the same time for the server. Granted, you'd be one of the coolest programmers in the business, but it is unnecessary. I'm personally versed in PHP and ASP classic due to certain circumstances, but as a freelancer I stick to one (PHP).

Normally web development companies have either a single set of technologies that they go by, or different development teams working on different technologies. If I were you I would do some research to check out the kind of company that you want to work for and the technologies they are using before investing your time and effort improving your skills in areas that may not be useful.

I personally use Linux + Apache + MySql + PHP (LAMP) - nothing else is needed.


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Carl TawnSystems and Integration DeveloperCommented:
I'm the complete opposite to Esopo; Windows, VB, ASP, .Net (C#/ASP.Net), C++ are my mainstay.

Truth is, once youlearn the underlying concepts to web development you'll find that you can fairly easily switch to other languages and technologies.
Hehe, been there, done that :)
Although I usually notice my erroneous ways of programming before actually executing the stuff ;)

I don't think anybody wants you to know every little tidbit of a certain programming language by heart; as long as you can adapt to it fast when needed  nobody will complain.
Looking up usually only is necessary if I haven't used the programming language in question for quite a long time (say.. more than a year).

Looking things up doesn't make you look stupid.
The only thing that counts is your ability as a programmer which means you can adapt quickly, especially to languages you have used in the past.


P.S: For presentations, workshops, etc. I usually do a little project just to get myself into the style of the particular programming language.
m4ttycfmAuthor Commented:
Thanks very much for all your advice. Put my mind at ease a little. Just suppose I've got to take the plunge and get on with it - learn from your mistakes and all that.
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