My first baby steps with web development

Last week, I explained how I decided to focus on web development (HTML-CSS-JS). I ended my post saying that even though I knew where I wanted to go, I had no clues where to start.

If you type “How to learn web technologies” on Google, you easily find hundreds of websites telling you that they have the best solution to make you a pro in a few months only if you follow their plans and courses. And when you don’t know where to start, going through them one by one to make up your mind can be quite tiring. You can also check many discussion boards on websites like Quora and Reddit, only to find yourself more confused and dazzled by the myriad of options available.

As a busy young dad, I didn’t want to waste any second and wanted to make sure that my way of approaching the subject would be as efficient as possible. But I also didn’t want to waste too many hours researching this most efficient way…

When you’re in a situation like that, pondering many great options and lost in a sea of well meaning advices, the best thing that can happen to you is receiving solid advice from someone you really trust. And this is exactly what happened to me when I stumbled into two blog posts by Derek Sivers called Should you learn programming? Yes. and How to learn JavaScript. These articles are so short that you can read both of them in under a minute, yet they did all the difference for me. I’ve learned to trust their author over the years. Everything I read, listened or watched from him left me inspired to do better work and to push the edges of my imagination as to what’s truly possible in life (after all, #YOLO!). By the way, if you aren’t familiar with him, spend a few minutes on his website to follow some random links that interest you.

His advices essentially boil down to:

  • Go through the two books Head First HTML and CSS and Head First HTML5 Programming.
  • Do the challenges, exercices and projects on Free Code Camp, in order to apply what you learn in the books.
  • Start by really mastering the fundamentals of JavaScript, before worrying about using other tools, frameworks or libraries. Reading good books on the language cover to cover is a good way to make sure that no part of the language remains a mystery for you.

Which is exactly what I did.

The same day I read the articles, I ordered the first book on HTML & CSS and started working my way through it as soon as it arrived. It’s more than 700 pages long, but it’s actually a very fun and visual book with many detailed and colored illustrations. I made my way through it in just a few weeks, without skipping a single exercise, and finished with a good grasp of the fundamentals of HTML & CSS. Even though these topics are pretty basic, I shared Derek Sivers’ feelings expressed in the following quote:

It’s a really amazing feeling. The mystery is lifted. You’ll look at all websites in a new way. You’ll understand what’s going on behind the scenes. You’ll know how to do it yourself. It’s really empowering. (It’s definitely been the most rewarding thing I’ve ever learned.)

I enjoyed this book from the Head First series so much that as soon as I finished it, I ordered the second one on HTML5 programming. The title is actually a bit misleading since the book focuses much more on using more advanced JavaScript to build web apps than on HTML. Again, I had so much fun going through its more than 600 pages that it didn’t feel like working at all. And week by week, the web was becoming less and less of a mystery to me, and no longer felt like “magic”.

If you want to learn web development and don’t know where to start, I really recommend that you check these two books (and if you’re around Lyon, don’t hesitate to borrow them from me ^^). It’s actually accessible to anyone, no need to have any experience with the web or with development, nor to have any kind of science degree.

As for me, I was now ready to apply this new set of skills on little projects, and Free Code Camp seemed like the perfect place for that.

Next week, I’m going to explain how this website works and how I used it to bring my newfound skills to the next level.

Another baby step. But a step nonetheless :).

2 Replies to “My first baby steps with web development”

  1. Ah ben c’est super motivant de voir qu’avec 700 pages et de la bonne volonté on peut arriver à un résultat du genre.
    Tes articles sont vraiment très frais! Ils se lisent bien (contenu et forme agréables) alors à bientôt pour le prochain article.
    Et oui!! C’est quand même cool et motivant de se casser un peu la tête pour se réorienter et c’est même bien le kiff si on a réussi à trouver “chaussure à son pied”!

    1. Hello Cell,
      Un grand merci pour ton commentaire très encourageant :).
      Oui, ce n’est pas toujours facile de se réorienter, mais c’est dingue de voir jusqu’où un peu de bonne volonté et de persistence peuvent nous mener.
      Je vais raconter dans un article futur comment j’ai fait pour me tenir à mon engagement de 10h par semaine, à côté de tout le reste, notamment de la vie de papa avec 2 filles de moins de 3 ans à la maison ;).
      J’espère que pour ta part, tu as trouvé ta voie et que ce que tu fais au quotidien te passionne !

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