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  1. #1
    Junior Member SeanMS's Avatar
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    Hey guys, I'm currently studying for my Bachelor's Degree in Web Development. Right now, I have experience with HTML5 and CSS3. I do intend on becoming certified with these languages, as well as JavaScript, iQuery, XML, and PHP through W3Schools, but as of now I haven't studied these languages in-depth.

    Basically, I've recently been trying to get into the game by researching the latest practices that modern web designers/developers use today, and I quite frankly feel overwhelmed at the moment. For example, I've seen that many web designers/developers create their mock-ups in a PSD, and then convert the final product to HTML (most of them using a 960Grid.gs template). This seems the way to go for "hand-coding" now-a-days, or so it seems to me. I have even seen tools such as less or sass that some web developers use (that I know nothing about), as well as MANY other tools.

    But then there is the CMS landslide, such as WordPress/Joomla/Drupal. I have zero experience with these systems, but it seems to be the first choice people jump to now-a-days (I'm assuming for the sake of the client updating their own content?).

    And then of course there is database development to learn.

    My questions to any professional designers/developers here are...
    1) Are the assumptions that I made about hand-coding and CMS-usage accurate?
    2) How do you decide between hand-coding(such as PSD to HTML) and CMS's?
    3) From start to finish, what tools do you use throughout the entire process of your clients' design?
    4) And most importantly, where do you recommend that I start with all of this overwhelming information? Should I get used to hand-coding PSD to HTML mock-ups, and then learn CMS's afterwards?

    *Sorry for this blast of text, I'm just a current web development student feeling a little overwhelmed right now. I still have some tutorials that I'm going to work through, and a lot more courses to complete before I'm even done with school, but I'm at that stage where I want to know everything to expect while striving to excel in this field.

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  3. #2
    Senior Member Webzarus's Avatar
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    Where and who is offering a BS in Web Development ?

    to answer your questions.

    1. No - too much to say about that.. but if you search the forums, you'll understand my answer.
    2. I started before HTML 2.0, and long before WYSIWYG, yes, I've tried a lot of these different things.. but nothing beats hand coding to understand how it all works and ties together.
    3. Notepad++ , an OLD Copy of DW ( in code view ), and that's mainly for the "project management and FTP" options... on occasion, if I'm working on a page with several thousand lines of code, I do open a split window, use the "design view"... to find the section quickly... but still do all my work in "code view"... work on a server... notepad++ or just notepad if I don't have access to install a program.

    4. Don't worry about learning the Newest... cutting edge... blah blah blah... since many in the industry are heading in the direction of standards and table-less... start with HTML 4.0 and CSS 2.. learn "doc types"... and how they determine the different aspects.

    if you can code and work with HTML 4 and CSS, validate to standards, make it responsive... then moving into HTML5 should be a much easier.

    if you don't know and understand the basics before jumping right into HTML 5, when and if you make it to the real world.. you're gonna struggle because there ARE a lot of differences and there's a whole lot more "non-html5" code that you may have to "FIX", "TWEAK", or work with.

    BTW... Development requires different skills than Design.. I mis-read your question and based it on "Design"... but I do both ( which very few these days do ).. and very few can speak on the differences.

  4. #3
    Junior Member SeanMS's Avatar
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    Plenty of schools have started offering Web Dev as a major now, but I personally am attending Baker College Online.

    I been studying HTML5\CSS3 ever since I started down this path, so thanks foe the tip on learning HTML4/CSS2. I will look into that as well.

    So do you create your own layouts with an image editor like PS whenever you are designing from scratch?

    I am a "development" student, but i want to master both ends; from the designing stages to the code.

  5. #4
    Unpaid WDF Intern TheGAME1264's Avatar
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    1) You can convert a PSD to HTML, but not using the tools provided. The best way to do it is to slice your images for web use, use the images only, and then hand-code your HTML. I'm not sure if that's a yes or a no to your question, but that's my answer.

    I never understood the whole 960 grid, quite frankly. It was always an example of designer theory to me. I get using percentages, but I don't understand why there need to be 12 columns or any of that...it always seemed somewhat arbitrary. I'm more of a developer, though.

    2) CMSes are just content management systems. They have no real relation to hand coding as such, other than they tend to make people lazier because they use a lot of the preexisting code generated by the default templates and repurpose it. You can, however, create a layout completely from scratch and implement it into most CMSes.

    3) That depends on what exactly I'm doing for someone. I usually start with a PSD file, either created myself or one that someone gave to me. I'll usually put the non-repeating images into one big file and export that to the web and use CSS sprites (something else you may want to look up) to show them on the page, but it depends on what I'm trying to do. Whatever it is, I do not, do not, do not ever use any generated code unless it's something I've created already from scratch myself.

    After that, usually a copy of Microsoft Visual Web Developer Express, which is actually a text editor designed for use with HTML/CSS/ASP.net/Classic ASP (although it handles ASP.net much better) and FileZilla to upload things once I'm done developing them on my local server.

    4) Again, CMSes are just there to manage content. You're still going to have to learn HTML/CSS regardless of whether or not you'll have to use them. But I wouldn't "learn them" as such if I were you...what I would learn is the languages used to generate the code for the CMSes. Things like PHP, ASP.net, Classic ASP, Ruby on Rails, Python, etc. Learning one of those, as well as learning how to apply knowledge to solve a problem, will serve you in very good stead and put you above a lot of so-called developers (although I'd stick with either ASP.net or PHP, as PHP is most commonly used, followed by ASP.net.) The big problem a lot of developers have is that they're absolutely useless when they're forced to think or solve problems...they think they know how to code, but when they're presented with a real-world challenge they're lost. Having managed developers in five different countries across two continents, one thing I can tell you is that it's very frustrating sometimes trying to explain something that should be intuitive to someone who just doesn't get it because they lack the real knowledge necessary to apply it to a solution.
    SeanMS likes this.
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  6. #5
    Junior Member SeanMS's Avatar
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    Thanks guys. I will look into what you said. I still have some tutorials to complete as well. I like what you said about CMS's TheGAME, because whenever I go into the Website Review thread, all I tend to see is CMS-generated websites. I've always preferred hand-coding anyway, that way "I" control every aspect of the site, as well as not feeling like I wasted time learning the code whilst having a CMS do most of the work. I still have plenty of things to learn, obviously.

    start with HTML 4.0 and CSS 2.. learn "doc types"... and how they determine the different aspects.

    if you can code and work with HTML 4 and CSS, validate to standards, make it responsive... then moving into HTML5 should be a much easier.
    Now, I've been studying HTML is general from W3Schools, and my HTML5 studies have shown me what's new from HTML4 and HTML5. Is there much of a difference that I'll see though? Besides random things (like the new <section><article><aside><nav><header><footer> block elements) there doesn't seem to be much of a difference. Or like HTML4 would break elements like <br /><hr /> rather than HTML5's way of <br><hr>. What am I missing in terms of the differences between these two? Also, by "Make it responsive," do you mean incorporate percentile widths and heights rather than pixels? Because I've gotten myself into that habit already.

  7. #6
    Unpaid WDF Intern TheGAME1264's Avatar
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    Yeah, there's a reason for that.

    That isn't to say CMSes as a concept are bad...if you can learn to code properly, you can build your own and that really is the way to go in most cases. It just means that most of the off the shelf ones are crap.
    If I've helped you out in any way, please pay it forward. My wife and I are walking for Autism Speaks. Please donate, and thanks.

    If someone helped you out, be sure to "Like" their post and/or help them in kind. The "Like" link is on the bottom right of each post, beside the "Share" link.

    My stuff (well, some of it): My bowling alley site | Canadian Postal Code Info (beta)


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