Self-taught web developers: Things to know before starting

 

People who devote themselves into Computer Programming are often called: WEB DEVELOPERS

As common as it seems, there are many successful stories which proves that web developing is a decent profession that is both challenging yet fulfilling. Some are self-taught and others are learned through hard education.

In this article I would like to focus on the self-taught web developers and the things they should know before even starting to learn the career.

1. The Basics
Nothing will ever replace the basics.  Get good at JavaScript, and then get good at JQuery, CoffeScript, and other frameworks.  Get good at PHP, and then learn how WordPress leverages it.  Get good at Rails, and then learn how the gems make things easy.

If you wish to start learning the basics, I recommend Bento.

2. Programming websites is not an intuitive skill
Programming is also a skill, but it’s not at all intuitive or tangible. Without guided learning, it’s impossible to even get started. The language tokens in code are symbols you’ve seen on your keyboard, but without guidance, a first time programmer probably won’t guess their meaning. You have to make the effort to actually learn. It will be difficult but rewarding.

3. Nobody has it all figured out.
The best web professionals continue their education constantly because there’s no end to the knowledge that can be gleaned. If you stop learning, you’ll start to feel miserable after a year or so because you’re once cutting-edge skills will now be the status quo. Worse, you’ll fall behind. The trick is to just learn a little something every day. Write a little code, read a blog post, wireframe an idea you’ve had… anything to keep your mind engaged and moving forward.

4. Learn to Code

  • Read other people’s code.
    It is important to not limit yourself on your personal understanding but rather see the work of other programmers and learn from it.
  • Do it hands-on
    If you read a book about doing something, stop reading it when it shows you something.  Immediately execute.  You’ll find that you often don’t understand things as well as you initially thought when you do this.
  • Focus
    Focus on one language and learn it thoroughly.  Then, branch out into another one.  Learning too many languages as a beginner will just confuse you. Don’t worry about what’s hot.  I spent so much time studying every “new” thing that came out I lost a lot of time that would have been better spent on the fundamentals.

5. There are always better programmers than you.  That doesn’t make you a bad programmer.
Even if you had mastered everything, keep in mind that there will always be a better programmer than you. Healthy competition is necessary to develop and level up your skills.

6. There are parts of programming you won’t like. 
Not everything you will encounter in web developing is pleasant. It is like mathematics the harder it gets, the most complicated it can be. I encourage you to not turn away from those parts, rather take time in learning it.

7. Start with an easy language and a recommended framework.
Starting with a decent language and a well-used web framework will save you a lot of time and effort. Common languages such as PHP, Ruby, Python etc. are used by a lot of people and the frameworks for these languages have been battle tested by a lot of people during a long time.

As someone who teached myself coding from scratch I can highly recommend Ruby and Ruby on Rails as a starting language/web framework combination. Ruby is a great language and Ruby on Rails will save you a lot of time when dealing with everything from databases to deployment.
Sebastian Johnsson – creator of the Ruby on Rails app Smartlend.se.