HTML5 Web Applications

Hi there,

I am wanting to get into the Web Application Development arena, and need to build a portfolio to showcase skills in HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript.

What types of Web Applications should I consider developing in order to get my "foot-in-the-door"?

Thanks
userTesterAsked:
Who is Participating?
 
mikeyd234Connect With a Mentor Commented:
Ah, well, I do a lot of large corporate apps which are mostly just specific to the company I work for, things like CMS, CMDB's, document management, reporting systems / dashboards / metrics, things that replace old ways of doing things, like spreadsheets, dreaded spreadsheets! :)

As you say it is kinda hard to narrow it down. Wish I could be of more help.

Agree on ASP.NET Web Forms being painful :( I dropped asp.net for PHP and haven't looked back (yet), so i'm mostly pure Javascript and PHP now, most of my apps are built in Sencha's ExtJS framework (they have a great designer app also, Architect), you should check it out.

Thanks
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mikeyd234Commented:
A portfolio of portfolios :D

I find things like Photography/Artist portfolios and small business sites i.e. your local florist  are quite sort after.

Also in terms getting your foot in the door, maybe you should try some freelance sites if you are confident enough - you get to choose what you want to work on from basic to advanced really. I use http://www.freelancer.co.uk/ occasionally.

http://www.kaylaknight.com/getting-started-with-web-development-where-should-i-start/
Might be of use also, general 3 part guide.



Thanks
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userTesterAuthor Commented:
mikeyd234

Thanks for your input.

I am not really a designer, so I am not really looking to do websites anymore. I've also done some work in C# and ASP.NET Web Forms, but I find ASP.NET Web Forms very painful, thus the desire to go back to HTML, but doing applications instead of general websites.

There seems to be demand for the HTML5, CCS3, and JavaScript combination in the job market, so I guess businesses are using these technologies in some way, other for than just the plain old website.

I wish I could narrow it down, and say this or that kind of web application is currently in high demand these days. I am sure that there must be a trend one can pick-up on, not sure what it is right now.
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userTesterAuthor Commented:
You know, I did some PHP before, and I remember it being as mangled with the UI as classic ASP, but I am not sure how it has improved these days?
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Chris StanyonCommented:
All websites, no matter what their purpose, are built using HTML and CSS. This acts as the presentation layer - what a user 'sees' in their browser.

If you want to add a dynamic feel to how that presentation is used, then you will use Javascript to add a behavioural layer (capture clicks, provide animation etc).  The easiest was is to use a library, such as jQuery.

If your application is data driven in any way, then you will use PHP on the server-side (and maybe a database - mySQL is very common)

To start off, you should really get a good handle on how these technologies interact with one another. Once you've got that nailed, you can develop a web application for pretty much anything.

If done properly, there should be no cross-purpose code - your PHP handles the data (POSTed forms, database access etc.) and pushes it to HTML. The HTML presents the structure and content to the user. The CSS styles the HTML and the Javascript adds behaviour to the content.
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COBOLdinosaurCommented:
From the sound of it you are only interested in the presentation layer.  There is no future in those skills if that is all you want to work with.  Web applications that use just those are free give away toys.  Serious revenue generating apps and the kind of stuff developers get hired to turn out require backend work with all the things you indicate you don't like plus DB management.

If you are only interested in the frosting, and not in baking the cake you probably need to look at another occupation, because you are not going to make much of a living if all you do is the window dressing. Ten year old kids can do that part.

Cd&
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userTesterAuthor Commented:
COBOLdinosaur

I am not sure what you actually mean when you say that there is no future in HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript. These are the technologies in discussion here.

I can give my own opinion about which is better, client-side or server-side coding, since I've done them both, but I'll let a reputable company (Cybercoders) bring some perspective to our discussion here:

Skills of 2013

If you can find a well respected guru in the industry who says that HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript proficiency is currently not worth the effort, help us out, shed some light on this well kept secret. Seriously, I'd like to know more.
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COBOLdinosaurCommented:
I don't see anywhere where I am saying those are unnecessary skills.  What I am saying is that with nothing but those frontend skills you are worth 40k a year.  I can hire school kids to do the work for even less.  

However if you have those skill and the backend plus DB so that you can do complete applications you are worth 80k and if you also have the ability to work on low primitives 150k.

Frontend web developers are a dime a dozen.  Try the job market and see what kind of offers you get without backend skills.

Cd&
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userTesterAuthor Commented:
While I do agree that on their own, they are perhaps worth less, but that would be expected, since the more skills you have that can be used, the more valuable you potentially are to the company.

Yes, there are probably very young students who can perform the basic to intermediate skills of almost any programming language, and produce a decent website or program, but we all know exactly how involved and complex a corporate web application can get, even on the front-end. In fact, there are many back-end programmers who would not dare leave their comfortable back-end zone, for fear of the volatile nature of front-end programming. So I am not in favor of belittling front-end developers to make a point about how to make more money in the industry - every part serves a purpose that enhances the common goal of a project done well.

There is also a growing demand for senior developers to become very proficient at HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript as well, since these are in fact the technologies of the present and future for the front-end. There is also a desire in the industry to move more of the logic to the front-end for the purpose of improving the user experience.

So deciding to become proficient in HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript should be viewed as a must do for job enhancement these days, ignore it, and we'll miss out on the potential benefits of being at the cutting-edge of the industry.
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Chris StanyonConnect With a Mentor Commented:
I think the bottom line here is that to develop modern, interactive web applications, a solid understanding of both server-side and client-side technologies is a must. Even if you work on these applications as part of a team, things go much smoother if the back-end developers know how the front-end works and vice-versa.

It's true that there are more people around that know the front-end stuff, and as such the market is more competitive, which equates to less money - simple supply and demand.

For very specific job requirements, you may get away with knowing just the server-side or just the client-side, but knowing it all, and knowing it well will give you an edge in an increasingly competitive market.

One of the problems with showcasing a portfolio is that only the client-side stuff is on display to the user, so if your potential employers are typical users (and to be honest, most are), they only see the tip of the iceberg, and in more complex applications, this front-facing development is often the smaller part of the whole project - all the heroics go on behind the curtain. If you spend days on perfecting the data modelling and create beautiful, elegant code to interact with that data, the last thing you want is for a potential employer to tell you they don't like the font you've used (or worse still, their wife doesn't like green!)

Learn HTML5, CSS3, jQuery, PHP and Database Design (probably using MySQL) and you'll cover all bases.
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userTesterAuthor Commented:
Yes, I've learned these except the jQuery, but I've used it a few times though.

The problem is that I decided to study full time for my degree while traveling around the country for the last few years, and did not work on any meaningful projects recently, except for class projects in C# ASP.NET 4 Web Forms, MS Sql Server 2008, and some of my own HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript projects.

I don't think those projects are really portfolio level they're learning projects, so because of the big gap in employment, I feel that I need to work on one or two "big" personal projects before taking on a real project again.

Thus my interest in wanting to know what kind of web applications are the trend these days.
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userTesterAuthor Commented:
When I say portfolio, I mean list of projects.
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COBOLdinosaurConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Instead of looking at a list of job openings from cybercoders that you don't qualify for, and are not going to get near; you ned to deal with the entry level spot you will find yourself in.

You can develop skills, and design a portfolio of personal work, but that is not going to get you a 100k job.  For those you need real experience.  

So you need to look at the real world stats to see what technologies are being used broadly, not the headline on 100k jobs.

These stats have a large enough sample size to to pretty accurate:

http://w3techs.com/technologies/

Click on any of the categories on the left and set what is actually in wide use, because you are not going to walk in somewhere with no track record and do the next great app. You are going to start demonstrating your ability by doing maintenance. So you need to have the skills that match the broadly use technologies.

Cd&
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userTesterAuthor Commented:
COBOLdinosaur

Thanks, this looks really useful.

No doubt, I will be considered entry-level in all technologies.

I am wondering which would be better to get current experience, freelance work or volunteer work?
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COBOLdinosaurConnect With a Mentor Commented:
?If you can get freelance work take it even if it does not pay a lot; it still shows as paid experience.  Volunteer work can be good because you may get the chance to do things that a "junior" would not be assigned in a paid position.

If you can get a little freelance work from an established developer it could be gold either because it turns into a full time gig, or you get some samples of your work done with a recognized established firm.

The key in all of it is that you are responding to requirements, instead of just doing what you think is cool.  In the end, what you think of your work is far less important than what others think of it; especially if they are paying for it.

Cd&
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Chris StanyonCommented:
Spend a good amount of time here at EE. Add some topics to your watchlist (CSS, HTML, Web Development, jQuery, PHP, MySQL) and when a question catches your eye, have a look at it, comment on it and follow it.

Someone will often ask "How do I do xyz?" and the Experts will pretty much always give real world examples based on experience (years of it!), so you get to learn directly from people who know what they're doing.

Set yourself up a local development server. Install something like WAMP on your PC and you'll have a fully functioning Apache Web Server with PHP and MySQL - you can play and learn 'til your heart's content.

You can even start trying out all the wonderful code examples you'll find on EE and maybe even start answering questions of your own - there's no better way of reinforcing your knowledge than by spreading it about.

http://www.wampserver.com/en/
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userTesterAuthor Commented:
Thanks guys, some really good pointers.
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userTesterAuthor Commented:
mikeyd234

Do you have any ideas about how to get back into the job market after going back to school for a number of years?
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COBOLdinosaurCommented:
Getting back in is the hard part.  Step 1 is a good resume that get you the interviews.  Then it comes down to being on your game in the interview.  Don't try and bluff your way through an interview.  If you are not what they are looking for right then, you might get a shot at something else they have next month if you come across as the kind of positive, enthusiastic person they think can fit into a team.

if you have training in skills they need then you will get offers even without experience if you come across as someone looking to learn and get better.  

Cd&
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userTesterAuthor Commented:
COBOLdinosaur

It's good to know that there is a chance of getting in if one has the required skills. Thanks for your encouraging post.
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userTesterAuthor Commented:
Sorry for closing so late, will do so now.
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userTesterAuthor Commented:
Thanks to everyone, I appreciate your input.

So the good news is that I've decided to complete a Project Management Application that I had put on hold, and thereafter do an internship, which will allow me to work on 2 other applications.

Since I currently know C# and ASP.NET a lot better than PHP, I think I'll stick to that for now, and see whether it will get me into a decent position after my internship.

I guess I can also do a PHP version of each of the projects, if I cannot find an ASP.NET opportunity.

I will use HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript for the front-end where needed.

Please comment further if you would like to advise further.
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Jason C. LevineNo oneCommented:
Mobile.  The future is mobile.

Not necessarily native mobile apps, but being able to provide design skills that can apply to mobile form factors as well as desktop plus having enough programming chops to make a minimally interactive mobile site/app.

If you can create stuff that looks and acts good on mobile devices, your chances at landing a job will go up.
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userTesterAuthor Commented:
Thanks jason1178, I think mobile is a vital part of today's application development considerations.

I'll probably take my web applications that extra step further and make sure they can be used by most devices.

How to architect for both the computer browser and mobile device browser is probably where the challenge lies.
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