Learning Web Programming: Getting Started

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Over the past month it has been my goal to learn more about web programming. The journey so far has involved lots of trial and error, so in the interest of helping other people get started with web design, I’ll post a few resources and hints here to get you started.

  1. Firebug. Firebug is the primary tool I’ve been using to examine websites with features I like and want to replicate. When you start off, you will likely have several websites in mind that you like the style of. The best way to see how things such as navigation bars, content areas, backgrounds, etc. are implemented, it’s a good idea to take a look at the source code of the sites. Install Firebug and then click the icon in the lower right hand corner of your Firefox browser to pull up the source code. You can do cool stuff like view CSS files, Javascript scripts, and other components of the website. If you’re a Google Chrome user, this functionality is built right in. You can access it by going to View -> Developer -> Developer Tools.

  2. W3 Schools. The W3 Schools website is also a good place to start getting familiar with the code you’ll see used in the majority of websites. I recommend starting with HTML and CSS to get your feet wet. This site is great because it has the “Try it yourself” feature that allows you to play with code and see how it renders on your browser. It’s especially nice if you don’t yet have a place to host your own website.

  3. Coda (Mac). Coda is a great one-window editing environment for the Mac. There are lots of good auto-fill features that are quite helpful as you start diving into coding for your own website, and it interfaces directly with your hosting environment via FTP. There’s a 30 day trial, so once you download it make sure you get the most out of your trial and then decide if you want to purchase a license. If you’re in Windows-land, try my favorite “swiss-army-knife” editor, Notepad++.

  4. W3 Validator. Once you start putting some code up on your own site, you’ll likely want to see what (if any) errors your code contains. The W3 Validator is a great place to start. Even as you become more familiar with web programming, you’ll still want to validate your code to make sure it follows the W3 standards.

Find an issue?
Open a pull request against my blog on GitHub.
Ben Limmer