Skill Development

Hi Experts,

I have a college diploma from 2001,  trained in Classic VB6/VBS/VBA/ASP. However as I knew  that my skills were getting outdated, I took a few onllne courses that were based on the following texts : - all chapters chapters 1-7, 10-13 - all chapters, chapters 1-12

I have spent close to one year in covering this, and feel 90% confident in the material covered, following it I successfully wrote a 18-month Database application using these skills, that is used today for minute-to-minute operations.  

However, now as I am on the hunt, I'm running into so many things that I lack, like Bootstrap, JQuery, WordPress, Frameworks, all of which I know of,  but some I don't like SAS/LESS.

The following are list of skills which I've compiled and grouped by category that I've noticed that I lack as a web developer.  Those with * are what I assume are a quick study?


•      Lavarel
•      CodeIgniter
•      CakePHP
•      Zend
•      Yii
•      Symphony
•      SMARTY Template

I know that there are much more frameworks, but these are the most popular.

•      WordPress
•      XDebug *
•      GIIT *
•      Agile & Scrum
•      OOP: While I know what it is, I never got a firm grasp.
•      LAMP & AWS: Is basic knowledge important?


•      Bootstrap
•      SASS/LESS


•      JQuery - very crucial
•      Node
•      React
•      Angular
•      Backbone

•      Basic AJAX
•      RESTful
•      SOAP

Given my list above, I'm seeking advise on how to go about to learn these? Local colleges do not offer these exactly, and I know that online there are millions of sites on each, but I'm the typ of person who enjoys a structured plan/course, that's why I'm also on the fence about - no texts to refer, no one to answer questions (except EE :))

I also wondered about APP Development like iOS and Android, but I believe the above are most crucial.  I would not be surprised if there are one or two courses that would cover this as well.

Any direction will be appreciated.
APD TorontoAsked:
Who is Participating?
Ray PaseurCommented:
Each of these links might be considered an anchor to some points of knowledge; there will be links from links to other links, and most of them are worth at least a moment of exploration, and maybe a browser bookmark.

You might want to add Drupal, Ruby-on-Rails, and mobile app development to your areas of study.  There is "real money" in those.

With any of these links, you will find some overlapping and redundant information, and some information you already know.  Feel free to skip over those parts and move on directly to the meatier bits.

Collect a library of code examples.  Any programmer worth his salt will have written applications in a variety of languages and designs.  You can concentrate on one if you want to (and that would be JavaScript), but the more programming languages you use, the better informed you will be about the general design patterns of modern applications.

General knowledge






Agile & Scrum

OOP (probably a college education in 2016)

LAMP & AWS: Is basic knowledge important?
Yes, at least enough to find your way around the command line



JavaScript (more important every single day)



Prasadh BaapaatWeb Designer & DeveloperCommented:
I would suggest you to check out 

here you learn a lot of things + you get to do practical projects for non-profits... I think its cool...  take a look at it.

Ray PaseurCommented:
One obvious answer: Learn how to find your way around Stack Overflow.  In the Washington, DC professional community we laughingly joke about this.  But it's true, and we have all done it at one time or another.

Management Deadlines
In a more serious vein, I've taught many of these technologies at the post-graduate level, and studied a fair number myself.  As time permits over the next few hours, I'll try to put together my list of learning resources and post it here.  Some technologies (like some animals) are "more equal than others" and very much worth learning.  In those, I would recommend investing the time to make some example libraries of your own, showing the basics of simple tasks.  Others (I'm looking at you, SOAP) are dead to the 21st century and not worth your time.

Object-oriented programming is more about application design than any discreet language syntax.  If you understand variable scope, interface design, and encapsulation of related code and data, you've got a lot of the meat.  But don't short-change this topic.  It's the biggest advance in programming since the advent of compilers and high-level languages.

Finally, I'm on the threshold of retirement.  But if I were starting a course of study today I would place great emphasis on mobile development.  Mobile internet traffic passed desktop internet traffic in 2012, and the curve is only going in one direction.  The desktop is dead.  You might want to add the Internet of Things to your fields of interest!
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Here's my 2 cents:

- I like ... many years ago they really only catered to graphic designers, but then they started adding some great courses on web design and development and now (recently) they are starting to offer all sorts of developer classes - visual studio, c++, java, etc.

- An alternative to is  They focus(ed) mainly on developer courses so that might have a certain appeal, but they are more expensive than lynda.

- whichever one you select, both offer a free trial, and if you have time to dedicate to the courses, you'll get your moneys worth. While (for example) does not offer a textbook, that doesn't mean the courses are not structured. Every course is broken down into segments, which you can view in detail. Along with that, you have access to the transcripts, some exercise files (if you have a premium subscription) and recently they added some online tests. I've had a subscription with them for the past few years and I use it regularly.  Something tells me pluralsight caters more to the developer and perhaps their developer courses are better, but I haven't found the time to try them out or consider switching.

- As for the list of courses you already took - good for you! Looks like you've covered a lot in a short time.

- Your history shows you learned all the Microsoft pre-dot-net technologies, but all the new stuff you listed is on the 'dark side'  (e.g. PHP). (just kidding).  I think you'd want to decide which you prefer - do you want to be a php guy? or a .net guy? or a java guy?  or forget server-side - what about front end development like jquery and node? This is really getting popular.  Sure there are programmers who can easily pick up the syntax and switch - but I'm a believer in 'jack of all trades, master of none'.  I am a big fan of the .net world and from the looks of things, there's no shortage of .net developers.   But php is steadily gaining ground in the enterprise.  (And now that .net is open source, things will get interesting down the road).

- When you look at employment ads, at least in my neck of the woods there are always ads for SMBs who are looking to hire a developer. Oh but they want you to also know bootstrap, javascript, jquery, html5, css3, responsive design. A little bit of wordpress and sql wouldn't hurt oh and by the way, if you also knew mobile development then that would be great too!  ;-)    My point is - every employers dream is to hire one person who just knows everything. I don't think that's reality.

- I think no matter which direction you go in, there's demand.

If money is a determining factor, here's an interesting (recent) article on developer salaries - It's interesting that server-side developers still earn a bit more than front-end developers, although it seems to me there's a big push for front-end. Mobile developers earn the most. At least, according to this article:
Julian HansenCommented:
The obvious risk here is a "jack of all trades and master of none".

In my view - pick your specialty and stick to it. You have listed a wide list of skills in your post - many of them will overlap but some are either / or. For instance Angular / React / Backbone / Ember- you can be familiar with all of them as they occupy roughly the same space in the development landscape but each has its own community and libraries etc - to keep up with what is happening with all of them is going to take a lot of time. Choose one and follow that.

Same goes for Laravel / Symphony / CakePHP - all are PHP frameworks.

This is where it gets interesting. The PHP frameworks above are part of an older methodology of approaching web applications. Logic runs on the server, scripts generate HTML pages which are served back to the client.
Angular / React / Ember / Backbone - all solutions to moving client logic into the client using JavaScript and using the server as a means to respond to REST calls.

A different paradigm completely from the PHP frameworks listed before. Single Page Applications are becoming a specialty in their own right.

There is scope to cross pollinate between the two but again you have to increase your research time to keep current with the different frameworks.

You can spend all your time just trying to keep current with the rapidly changing landscape of the development world and not really become a master. For me the trick is to build up the basics, understand the overarching technologies and methodologies of how the connected world functions and then choose the direction you want to go in. As you progress you will acquire new skills and experience that will help you answer the questions you have posed above.
Alicia St RoseOwner & Principle Developer/DesignerCommented:
I make a freelance living with these skills:

Custom WordPress Development
Thinking outside the box
Googling my answers
WordPress User Coaching
Inspiring My clients
Making it fun
Avoiding Bootstrap like the plague

As has been noted in the threads above, narrow your focus. To avoid Impostor Syndrome, realize you will NEVER learn it all and don't be afraid to say "I don't know."

Dive in where you are and enjoy the ride. Find colleagues who can help you debug when you get stuck. This site, Experts Exchange, is an excellent resource. (I've actually acquired skill here from just getting answers!).  Join tech meetups at

Look for opportunities that require the knowledge you already have, build upon your skillset/knowledge incrementally with each new project. Always, challenge yourself to learn something new on each job.

To be honest, the best skills you can have are the ability to find answers, deliver what  you say and gain your clients' trust.
APD TorontoAuthor Commented:
Even though I studied Microsoft, I prefer PHP because it easier to get work. Microsoft is more corporate and I prefer small to medium. However, a lot of PHP ads also look for front-end li JS and jQuery.

Actually, I prefer self-employment also, and my main source of clients come from Craigslist, but again there is a lot of mix between PHP, JQuery and WordPress. If you were to limit my list, what would you focus on?

This is an example of a post, which was from home, got the interview, but did not have the skills matching my post.
greetings APD_Toronto, , you (well, actually no one)  has the time to try and learn so many CHANGING technologies  as you list in the opening question. I overwhelmingly AGREE with those that have indicated the position of Stick to learning YOUR specialty , what you are drawn to do, , and , something that keeps you at the keyboard typing code because that's what is a challenge for you. Unfortunately for you, , for at least a year (actually more), the Conventions of web site presentations are shifting the way a site NEEDS to be functioning. A very great shift, in my view. NO longer are non-dynamic sites acceptable, also MOBIL spacing-responsive, and  scroll sensitive page with a tendency for the "SINGLE PAGE" accumulations of presentations are now seemingly preferred. Pages now need to have serious and USEFUL user interactions from multiple controls ( like TABS and section change subject SELECTS ), requiring extensive development in AJAX transactions.  Also there is a tendency to have more and more "Model", "View" operation in the browser javascript with a "Controller" handling a massive amount of user interactions and server retrievals for having a site tthat used to take several "Page Changes" from <form> inputs, into a fast and relatively  speedy "Controller" handling, that ajax updates several many sections and subsections of a page. It seems to me, that now understanding the "USER" viewpoint for operations in interactions in making a site, is as important than any code skills.

You may should concentrate on narrowing and focusing on specific skills, instead of leaning all of it, Most corps now that have "MONEY" to spend, will hire several many web developers, that specialize in certain operations needed. A really good SQL developer can get big bucks.
Ray PaseurCommented:
Here is what would be my list, in order:

Git.  Does not matter whether it's GitHub, Bitbucket, Gitlab.  The repo is your friend, and is necessary for any sort of collaboration.

HTML5.  Learn why CSS Zen Garden works, and why semantic markup matters.

CSS.  Learn why CSS Zen Garden works, and why semantic markup matters.

JavaScript.  Because every computer, iPad, iPhone, etc., with a browser runs JavaScript.  jQuery is kind of a decade-old spaghetti-code thing, but it's worth knowing.  If you understand JavaScript, you will understand jQuery very readily.

Object-Oriented Design.  Interview questions often go there.

PHP and MySQL for all kinds of sites.

Drupal for big sites.

WordPress for small sites.

Laravel and/or Ruby-on-Rails for innovative sites.
APD TorontoAuthor Commented:
What do guys think of the following courses. I know that they don't cover everything, but mostly JS and RWD.
 As well WordPress Integration they teach how to use JS and CSS. Is this enough when they say WP Developer, or do you also need to know how to change WP with PHP?
Ray PaseurCommented:
All of these look useful.  I looked at a couple of them more carefully than others.

Assuming a good foundation, the JavaScript and Interactive course outlines looks pretty good.  I don't own the text they chose, and would urge you to read Flanagan and Crockford, too.  Flanagan, in particular, is an excellent reference book.

Responsive Web Design is sometimes euphemism for "I have an old web site and I don't want to pay a professional to refactor it to modern standards, but nobody comes to it any more because they all use iPhones now, so how do I make my HTML tables smaller to fit on iPhones, etc..."  A more up-to-date thought paradigm is "mobile-first" design.  Desktop computers are an afterthought in the world of ecommerce..  There is nothing wrong with the course outline, it's just got the code smell of legacy remediation when refactoring might be a better approach.  Saying "responsive" sounds a little like saying "html" -- it should go without saying!

... how to change WP with PHP?
That's worth learning, but WP has a huge community with well-vetted component libraries of themes and plugins.  Go there first, before you start writing code.  #Protip: Don't use unpopular themes or plugins.  You will make lame brown sadness software if you choose bad add-ons for any framework.

WP has an API, but there is a much better (easier) approach shown here.  And if you're going to publish your WP PHP code, you will want to follow the WP PHP coding standards.

Depending on your intended audience, this might be worth a look, too.
Alicia St RoseOwner & Principle Developer/DesignerCommented:
WordPress isn't what you think it is. It's capable of much more than you can imagine.
I'm in the process of building a web app in WordPress. I start from Underscores Starter Theme.
Eventually, I end up adding 50% more template files to the theme depending on my need for Custom Post Types, Custom Taxonomies, Different Page/Post Type Layout Templates, Custom fields (Piklist or ACF), Customizing plugins like Event Organiser, Woocommerce, Formidable Pro.

My most ambitious project has been a multi-day, multi-venue festival with 7 types of participants. I used Formidable Pro for the submission forms and upon submit, the participant profile was created in backend on WordPress, ready for publishing. But, I had to create distinct template files to accommodate the different layouts for the profiles. We also used Zapier to zap the info to Podio for curation purposes. Suffice it to say, that site is complete custom work. There is NO WAY a pre-built theme and some plugins was going to do what I wanted.

At this point, WordPress is like clay in my hands. You'd be amazed how you can stretch it without limitation!

Where are you located? You might want to check out a WordCamp. There you can hobnob with WordPress Developers who can steer you in the right direction!
APD TorontoAuthor Commented:
This is a Good example of PHP Developer in my area. 

As you can see it also includes JS, jQuery, CSS, HTML and much much more....
Julian HansenCommented:
If you are going to be paddling in the Web Development pool then it is important to understand that HTML / CSS / JavaScript is going to be the common end point of whatever development stack you choose. The server side code - if that is the paradigm you use - generates HTML / CSS / JavaScript output which is sent to the browser.
Therefore it is imperative that you are well versed in these three technologies. In some cases the framework you are developing with will handle some of the nitty gritty for you - but if you rely on that to plug the gaps of not understanding the resulting output you will experience difficulties. What I see a lot is developers who do not have a good handle on the 3 browser technologies and they fall back on plugins to fill the gaps - which inevitably leads to application bloat. Developers include monster plugin libraries to do things that can be accomplished with far less code and with less chance of a conflict - resulting less stable applications and ones that take longer to load.

Bottom line - make sure you are up to speed with HTML / JS / CSS - and you can include JQuery and Bootstrap on top of that because you are going to be hard pressed to do any kind of web dev and not run into those as well.
APD TorontoAuthor Commented:
Thank you all.
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