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MakeSenseNotBabies
09-13-2009, 09:34 PM
so, i'm thinking of learning to build a website from scratch. so, i need some tips from expert programmers. here's what i would like:

1. HTML/XHTML and CSS seem fundamental. correct?
2. what comes after the above three? JavaScript or PHP????
3. What book would you recommend for learning HTML/XHTML and CSS and why?
4. I would like my website to be like an advanced (but no e-commerce) website, something that may have forums, animation, crap like that. this question ties in with 2....

how long would it take me to go from a non-programmer to great programmer status, assuming i spend between 2-4 hours a day, every day?

thanks for le help.

YULitle
09-14-2009, 06:29 AM
Start with HTML & CSS, yes. Then, I suggest adding a bit of javascript.

For forums and forms, in general, you'll probably want to look at PHP.

Animations... those are most likely just files that are animated. Anything more complicated can usually be done with javascript or DHTML.

Also, consider learning Flash.

Back when I learned how to do all of that, there were free tutorials online that taught me how. If there still are (like at webmonkey.com), then I suggest you use those.

mikeler
09-14-2009, 06:44 AM
Check out:

http://www.w3schools.com/

Start with html, then learn to use CSS. After that, javascript is a must. Once you learn those skills, you'll need to decide on a true language. This is where you have a big choice to make and should take some time to decide which one to learn. I program with ASP.Net using Visual Basic. Finally, you'll need to learn about databases. The choices here are more limited mainly to Access, SQL Server, Oracle and MySQL. If you go the Access route, it is worth it to follow that by learning SQL Server.

YULitle
09-14-2009, 07:24 AM
I don't know if he needs the ASP,PHP route. He could use something like this forum for his forum, which is provided by a separate pre-programmed service. I mean, he isn't going the e-commerce route.

I mean, MakeSense, what do you plan on doing with this site? Is it purely informational?

MakeSenseNotBabies
09-14-2009, 07:34 AM
I don't know if he needs the ASP,PHP route. He could use something like this forum for his forum, which is provided by a separate pre-programmed service. I mean, he isn't going the e-commerce route.

I mean, MakeSense, what do you plan on doing with this site? Is it purely informational?

thanks for the responses, Yu and mikeler.
yeah, it'll be a literature website, so essentially informational. it'll be sort of like harvard business review, similar model, look, functionality. you have to log-in on HBR, and if you don't have a membership, you must purchase the articles. if i do add e-commerce, that's as complex it'll be. but that's obviously my itinerant imagination talking, and won't happen for a long time.

for now (as in, the next several years), it'll be a purely informational website.

i do have the www3 as a bookmark, as well as other online tutorials. did you guys not use any books?

YULitle
09-14-2009, 07:46 AM
If you are using a log-in system, then you definetly need to heed Mikeler's advice and learn a server-side database language.


The only time that I bought a book was a reference book. For instance, I have an old HTML reference book that just lists the tags, their functions and limitations. You can find the same for javascript, PHP, ASP, CSS, you name it. They are essentially a list of tools that you can use in each language. These lists can be found online, but I worked for a book store at one point and I could get sizable discounts at times. So, it was nice to have something in hardcopy so long as I wasn't paying $60 for it. ;)

mikeler
09-14-2009, 09:40 AM
Starting out, I bought a ton of books to learn all this stuff. Now, I only buy books for the more specialized topics. There is so much information available from Google that I don't find much need for books anymore.

I think you'll find that if you learn the topics in the order we are suggesting, that you'll know when you need to learn the next topic. Basically you'll say "I want my site to do this". Then you Google it and realize that with your current skill set that you won't be able to. Hope that made sense...

tricky
09-14-2009, 10:36 AM
yeah, it'll be a literature website, so essentially informational. it'll be sort of like harvard business review, similar model, look, functionality. you have to log-in on HBR, and if you don't have a membership, you must purchase the articles. if i do add e-commerce, that's as complex it'll be. but that's obviously my itinerant imagination talking, and won't happen for a long time.

There's a few routes you can go here with that. But all of them will require you to understand the whole picture. It's not just the front end technologies (XHTML, CSS, AJAX, etc.), but the backend stuff that you need to get down.

1) LAMP = Linux (OS), Apache (Application Server), MySQL (Database Server), PHP (Language)

LAMP is shorthand for the most popular "stack" of different modules that people use.

One great thing about a LAMP-style framework is that there's plenty of ready-made PHP scripts that you can add right now to "plug and play" what you need. Forums, Blogs, Newsletter formats, etc. For example, this forum uses a Vbulletin PHP script, which is kinda the PHP script for commercial sites. Moreover, for somebody who knows LAMP, it takes about 10 minutes to get it up and running with all the features you could possibly want. Now, this PHP script costs only $180. However, there's also a lot of free PHP forum scripts that have similar look and feel to VBulletin. In addition, both VBulletin and the main free ones enable you to transfer their forum data between each other. In other words, you can start with the free PHP script, and once your site is actually pretty active, you can go ahead and purchase the VBulletin script with all the prior forum content intact.

Also, say you want to install a blog. Very easy. You can a Wordpress blog and again in under 10 minutes get that up and running.

Then, most of your effort will be in "branding" the site (i.e. the look), and of course "linking" all the different scripts together under one login name. The other great thing is that it's also relatively inexpensive once you make the site public. You don't have to pay licensing fees and the like.

2) .NET (ASP, C#)

.NET is a steeper learning curve and more expensive, but if you want to implement things like search capability, Web 2.0 look and feel (i.e. AJAX),various RSS feeds, web services to other sites, and so on, then you'll want to go here. And there's plenty of beginning-to-advanced level books out there that can get you going. You don't get as much of the free plug-and-play features as you do with LAMP. You could kinda combine the two, but it'll take you awhile to get to that level.

3) J2EE

J2EE has the steepest learning curve, but like LAMP, it's also "free" and (my biases here since I'm a J2EE developer) the most functionality and erm "enterprise-level" scalability. Again, every steep learning curve and probably overkill for your needs.

zapvor
09-15-2009, 05:47 AM
Start with HTML & CSS, yes. Then, I suggest adding a bit of javascript.

For forums and forms, in general, you'll probably want to look at PHP.

Animations... those are most likely just files that are animated. Anything more complicated can usually be done with javascript or DHTML.

Also, consider learning Flash.

Back when I learned how to do all of that, there were free tutorials online that taught me how. If there still are (like at webmonkey.com), then I suggest you use those.

do you have a site YuLite?

YULitle
09-15-2009, 05:53 AM
do you have a site YuLite?

It's a work-in-progress... unfortunately, I have way too many other things going on in my life.

But, it isn't anything special in the programming department. Purely informational.

Edit: But, in general, I have been designing/programming web sites since I was 12-13 (more than a decade :shock:). I even did it for money at one point in high school. That was before WYSIWYG editors made web site design accessable to the masses.

TenniseaWilliams
09-15-2009, 07:09 AM
There's a few routes you can go here with that. But all of them will require you to understand the whole picture. It's not just the front end technologies (XHTML, CSS, AJAX, etc.), but the backend stuff that you need to get down.

1) LAMP = Linux (OS), Apache (Application Server), MySQL (Database Server), PHP (Language)

LAMP is shorthand for the most popular "stack" of different modules that people use.

One great thing about a LAMP-style framework is that there's plenty of ready-made PHP scripts that you can add right now to "plug and play" what you need. Forums, Blogs, Newsletter formats, etc. For example, this forum uses a Vbulletin PHP script, which is kinda the PHP script for commercial sites. Moreover, for somebody who knows LAMP, it takes about 10 minutes to get it up and running with all the features you could possibly want. Now, this PHP script costs only $180. However, there's also a lot of free PHP forum scripts that have similar look and feel to VBulletin. In addition, both VBulletin and the main free ones enable you to transfer their forum data between each other. In other words, you can start with the free PHP script, and once your site is actually pretty active, you can go ahead and purchase the VBulletin script with all the prior forum content intact.

Also, say you want to install a blog. Very easy. You can a Wordpress blog and again in under 10 minutes get that up and running.

Then, most of your effort will be in "branding" the site (i.e. the look), and of course "linking" all the different scripts together under one login name. The other great thing is that it's also relatively inexpensive once you make the site public. You don't have to pay licensing fees and the like.

2) .NET (ASP, C#)

.NET is a steeper learning curve and more expensive, but if you want to implement things like search capability, Web 2.0 look and feel (i.e. AJAX),various RSS feeds, web services to other sites, and so on, then you'll want to go here. And there's plenty of beginning-to-advanced level books out there that can get you going. You don't get as much of the free plug-and-play features as you do with LAMP. You could kinda combine the two, but it'll take you awhile to get to that level.

3) J2EE

J2EE has the steepest learning curve, but like LAMP, it's also "free" and (my biases here since I'm a J2EE developer) the most functionality and erm "enterprise-level" scalability. Again, every steep learning curve and probably overkill for your needs.

+1 on this.

Focus on the content and organization, CJ. Understanding HTML will help you understand the limitations, but you don't want to spend all your time slogging through display details. Frequently, there is also an unspoken requirement to stay within the standard (cheap) offerings from hosting companies, unless you are prepared to permanently run a server.

Look for HTML templates, PHP scripts/applications that are close to what you want, and see if they work for you before spending huge amounts of effort in building and/or customizations. Try to make sure your site helps you save time/effort in some way so that you can afford to spend time developing it. Realize that it may not be complete or polished enough for others, perhaps for years.

For computer textbooks, I like the O'Reilly Nutshell books, like the HTML & XHTML (http://www.amazon.com/HTML-XHTML-Definitive-Guide-6th/dp/0596527322/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1253026405&sr=8-1) I find that they go out of their way to explain why some things seem strangely implemented, and discuss design concepts/limitations as well as nuts and bolt how to's.

mikeler
09-15-2009, 09:32 AM
I'm too lazy to host my own websites. I know people that run small businesses and do so. When their websites go down, it can take a while to get them back up. At least with the web hosting services, they typically have uptime guarantees.

YULitle
09-15-2009, 09:33 AM
I'm too lazy to host my own websites. I know people that run small businesses and do so. Their server always goes down when they are out of town which means their sites can be down for days at a time. At least with the web hosting services, they typically have uptime guarantees.

Not to mention refunds when they can't keep it up and running.

MakeSenseNotBabies
09-15-2009, 03:51 PM
Focus on the content and organization, CJ.

CJ???? how did you know CJ!

MakeSenseNotBabies
09-15-2009, 03:51 PM
There's a few routes you can go here with that. But all of them will require you to understand the whole picture. It's not just the front end technologies (XHTML, CSS, AJAX, etc.), but the backend stuff that you need to get down.

1) LAMP = Linux (OS), Apache (Application Server), MySQL (Database Server), PHP (Language)

LAMP is shorthand for the most popular "stack" of different modules that people use.

One great thing about a LAMP-style framework is that there's plenty of ready-made PHP scripts that you can add right now to "plug and play" what you need. Forums, Blogs, Newsletter formats, etc. For example, this forum uses a Vbulletin PHP script, which is kinda the PHP script for commercial sites. Moreover, for somebody who knows LAMP, it takes about 10 minutes to get it up and running with all the features you could possibly want. Now, this PHP script costs only $180. However, there's also a lot of free PHP forum scripts that have similar look and feel to VBulletin. In addition, both VBulletin and the main free ones enable you to transfer their forum data between each other. In other words, you can start with the free PHP script, and once your site is actually pretty active, you can go ahead and purchase the VBulletin script with all the prior forum content intact.

Also, say you want to install a blog. Very easy. You can a Wordpress blog and again in under 10 minutes get that up and running.

Then, most of your effort will be in "branding" the site (i.e. the look), and of course "linking" all the different scripts together under one login name. The other great thing is that it's also relatively inexpensive once you make the site public. You don't have to pay licensing fees and the like.

2) .NET (ASP, C#)

.NET is a steeper learning curve and more expensive, but if you want to implement things like search capability, Web 2.0 look and feel (i.e. AJAX),various RSS feeds, web services to other sites, and so on, then you'll want to go here. And there's plenty of beginning-to-advanced level books out there that can get you going. You don't get as much of the free plug-and-play features as you do with LAMP. You could kinda combine the two, but it'll take you awhile to get to that level.

3) J2EE

J2EE has the steepest learning curve, but like LAMP, it's also "free" and (my biases here since I'm a J2EE developer) the most functionality and erm "enterprise-level" scalability. Again, every steep learning curve and probably overkill for your needs.


muhr-C buhhcooo, tricky.

MakeSenseNotBabies
09-15-2009, 03:54 PM
If you are using a log-in system, then you definetly need to heed Mikeler's advice and learn a server-side database language.


The only time that I bought a book was a reference book. For instance, I have an old HTML reference book that just lists the tags, their functions and limitations. You can find the same for javascript, PHP, ASP, CSS, you name it. They are essentially a list of tools that you can use in each language. These lists can be found online, but I worked for a book store at one point and I could get sizable discounts at times. So, it was nice to have something in hardcopy so long as I wasn't paying $60 for it. ;)

Yu, any thoughts on time-line for learning HTML and CSS? as i mentioned, I'd likely be spending about 2-3 hours on it daily. I'm at 0 applicable, technical knowledge right now. so, for someone of average intellect, how many would you anticipate it would take to go from 0 to ~8/10??

YULitle
09-15-2009, 07:27 PM
Yu, any thoughts on time-line for learning HTML and CSS? as i mentioned, I'd likely be spending about 2-3 hours on it daily. I'm at 0 applicable, technical knowledge right now. so, for someone of average intellect, how many would you anticipate it would take to go from 0 to ~8/10??

Shouldn't take too awful long. If you are wanting to learn basic HTML functionality, all you need is a text editor and a browser. Write the code on the text editor, name it something like "index.html" and then open it with the browser. Trial and error will get you up and running with the simplest basics in no time. After you grasp links and tables, start looking into CSS. CSS can utilize HTML elements that are otherwise, in my opinion, next to useless (like DIV and SPAN(although this one may be dated.)) So, don't forget those.

I suggest finding some pre-made templates to mess around with. You can toy with what they already have to see how it affects the final product.

What you won't get from this is a good sense of cross-browser functionality. That, I can't help you with. There are some functions of HTML and CSS that work well with some browsers and not with others. There are ways to format your code to appeal to most, but I'm not entirely sure how to go about it. Sorry. Perhaps someone could point you along the right path in that regard.


For me, getting up and running with HTML and CSS coding from scratch took about a week of trial and error for the entire night after class.

TenniseaWilliams
09-15-2009, 07:57 PM
CJ???? how did you know CJ!

How could I forget "strings don't matter" ? :)

...
What you won't get from this is a good sense of cross-browser functionality. That, I can't help you with. There are some functions of HTML and CSS that work well with some browsers and not with others. There are ways to format your code to appeal to most, but I'm not entirely sure how to go about it. Sorry. Perhaps someone could point you along the right path in that regard.


For me, getting up and running with HTML and CSS coding from scratch took about a week of trial and error for the entire night after class.

The W3C maintains a chart for each of the commands and parameters indicating what is supported in which versions of each of the major browsers. The also have a nice online standards and syntax verification tool.

mikeler
09-16-2009, 05:31 AM
I started out learning HTML just using notepad. That really gave me a solid understanding of the basics. You'll want to use a web editor when designing pages, but there will still be times they don't do a perfect job of formatting and you'll want to delve into the HTML code.

Definitely learn to design according to W3C standards. This won't guarantee your site looks perfect in all browsers, but it should look halfway decent. Each browser renders the HTML differently and every user has different settings which is always a pain. I'd design your pages to look good in Internet Explorer and then check them in the other major browsers like FireFox and Safari. I'm a Google Chrome user, so I always check my site in that browser too.

If you have limited computer knowledge as of now, I think it will take 2 or 3 months for you to be able to put up a decent HTML page at 2-3 hours practice per day. Then again, you may be a genius and it will just click, so it is hard to say.

tricky
09-16-2009, 10:59 AM
If you have limited computer knowledge as of now, I think it will take 2 or 3 months for you to be able to put up a decent HTML page at 2-3 hours practice per day.

My hunch is that he can get reasonably good within a month. If you're already used to posting on forums with unicode, then you already understand the role of tags.

I suggest finding some pre-made templates to mess around with. You can toy with what they already have to see how it affects the final product.

One caveat with many templates: a lot of them use CSS to do column formatting, layout and such. That's a more sophisticated approach (than using table tags) and the learning curve of it is a little stepper.

Swissv2
09-16-2009, 11:22 AM
Being an advanced programmer myself, and having been employed to do advanced websites, I can give you the following recommendations:


1. HTML/XHTML and CSS seem fundamental. correct?

Yes. All great programmers have a fundamental knowledge of those three aspects of website development.

2. what comes after the above three? JavaScript or PHP????

Not necessarily. Javascript is meant as a scripting language that enhances PHP, ASP, or .NET websites. I would say that learning the base concepts of the programming logic is the way to go.
Learn the syntax, variables, operators, if/else conditionals, switchs, arrays, loops, etc.
3. What book would you recommend for learning HTML/XHTML and CSS and why?

All you really need is a simple reference guide. Many of the books that show you how to "build" a website from the ground up are subjective - there is really no one way to make a website.

4. I would like my website to be like an advanced (but no e-commerce) website, something that may have forums, animation, crap like that. this question ties in with 2....
how long would it take me to go from a non-programmer to great programmer status, assuming i spend between 2-4 hours a day, every day?


2-4 hours, 6-8 hours, whatever. it depends on your ability to retain & implement the information that you have learned. Some people learn incredibly quickly, some take time to learn these things. Some languages you learn easier than others.

If you want to create an advanced website, pound the fundamental concepts into your brain, then you should be able to understand a lot of the open-source systems built specifically for developing advanced websites.

good luck.

mikeler
09-16-2009, 11:24 AM
My hunch is that he can get reasonably good within a month. If you're already used to posting on forums with unicode, then you already understand the role of tags.



One caveat with many templates: a lot of them use CSS to do column formatting, layout and such. That's a more sophisticated approach (than using table tags) and the learning curve of it is a little stepper.


Learning the HTML/CSS will probably only take a month. Practicing with it in action is the more frustrating part. Trying to get things to lay out exactly how you want them was a big challenge for me as a newb.