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Thread: Where did you start?

  1. #1
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    Where did you start?

    Hello All,

    I have an idea, and to me it is a good idea. I assume you could guess, it is a Website.

    TL-DR - I need to know where/how you became a web developer

    For those that have some time and want more info

    To start, I do have a background working with computers. I graduated a mechanical engineering technologist program. Basically a glorified CAD design program. Aside from some basic API within the CAD software, I am completely green when it comes to code/programming/developing/html, etc...

    Sadly the CAD design route didn't work out and now I am a Production Miner, I work over 5000+ feet underground in a mindless endless job. Which has led me to this great idea. A website.

    I have been researching the best route to create this website and have come up to a roadblock. I don't know where to start. Some key points,
    • I want to do this myself, not pay someone to get it done
    • I don't have time to enroll in a local college or school to educate because I work shift work, it is an irregular schedule, it doesn't work well with program schedules
    • I know this can't be done in a week, month or even years perhaps, but I am willing to invest my spare time, which I have lots of, I basically work half the year with my shift schedule


    I have heard good things about resources such as Lynda or Treehouse, but I am not sure with my skill level if paying for a service right out of the gate is beneficial. There are so many free tutorials and guides, that maybe I should run through as many of those as I can before enrolling into a subscription program.

    I have also read, about programs such as Dreamweaver that develop your site without much knowledge of programming. Adobe's newer Cloud service makes this expensive program suite somewhat affordable. But again, is investing money this early into my training the best idea.

    I am not looking for a long detailed story (PM if you want to provide one though) of how each of you fellow members got to where you are today, but you all started somewhere and maybe it will get me going in the right direction. Everyone had their own starting point, which should provide a unique list.

    I appreciate your time,

    Thanks!

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  3. #2
    Senior Member brandMatt's Avatar
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    I used to have a computer repair business, I wanted a change, and opted for web development. I started out developing websites using Dreamweaver and Photoshop, using knowledge I obtained via lynda.com tutorials. The resulting sites were barely passable. I decided to go back and get some formal education, so I could do a proper job. I am quite pleased with the results.

    I am not saying formal education is the only way to go, I am saying it was for me. Since graduating from college, I follow free online tutorials just about everyday. The prior knowledge that I obtained, I would consider a foundation. The daily tuts are building on that foundation. The web is ever growing, ever changing, the only way to keep up is to keep learning.

    As for the tool, there is no need to spend money on software, if all you are doing is learning and playing around with code. I'd even suggest that you don't got for Dreaweaver. I use Sublime Text. It's free to try out, and even use as long as you want. The registered version costs $80. The unregistered version gives you prompts to purchase, but can still be used. There are other completly free alternatives. If you are on windows i'd recommend Notepad ++ and on OSX there is [URL="https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/textwrangler/id404010395?mt=12"Textwrangler[/URL]. I'm sure Linux has a great free IDE, but I am not sure, so I'll leave that one alone.

    My Web Site:
    brandwebdesign.ca
    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. Some of us are really insecure and need those likes so that we feel important and smart, so come on, help us out, huh?

  4. #3
    WDF Staff mlseim's Avatar
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    You have a good idea for a website, and probably don't want to, or can't, tell anyone what it is right now. But, we would need to know at least a small amount to steer you in the right direction as it pertains to type of shared webhost, or virtual servers, scripting languages, databases, etc. Just a general overview of whether it involves a lot of users, credit card processing, huge amounts of data storage, things like that. I guess it would be "The place to start".
    TheGAME1264 likes this.


  5. #4
    Unpaid WDF Intern TheGAME1264's Avatar
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    First of all...you're 5000 feet underground? I'm pretty sure you live in the most depressing and mind-destroying environment possible. That is beyond nuts. Sounds like one of those movie deals where the CIA guys work in a giant underground future-tech circle with tunnels going all over the place.

    Second...Max is right. I could sit here and describe my background and how I picked things up, but I started 16 years ago on a path that no one else would likely take. What you need to do and learn, and the path you need to take, depends entirely on your site idea.
    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.

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    Thanks for the replies this far, they are positive which I like. I agree with last few replies, it is hard to guide or provide guidance if you don't know the goal.

    The website, without giving it away can compare to Facebook, Kijiji, Twitter, Web Design Forum (haha) etc...it's isn't a social networking site, but it will allow the general public to access the site, with a free membership. The members will be allowed to upload/download/pm/open chat. There will be options for premium services which will require payment, so CC processing, PAYPAL, Secure Checkout are all options. Data storage will be another big factor when building the site and choosing a host.

    It will not be a flashy/intense graphics site, probably not even unique, but there is a market for it, a need for it. People will use the site. I can't see the site becoming international, but it will start locally, here in Ontario, Canada, then possibly nationwide.

    I chose not to start with the site idea, simply because any replies with tips or direction would most likely be jargon to me because I am so new. I would get lost almost immediately. But now that you know the site idea and my skill level.

    My idea when I started the thread, was everyone started somewhere. Either in class, you must have had a good book or resource you can remember. People who started on their own, website or online (work at your own pace program) free or fee. Start with the basics Notepad or Notepad++ that was mentioned above.

    I would like to build this site as fast as possible, but along the way learn how I did it. If that means a year or two or 5that's fine. Building this site would be a stepping stone, from here I could offer services (freelance type work)

    Thanks!

  7. #6
    Senior Member Vapr_Arts's Avatar
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    Where did you start?

    Ill chime in on the education thing and what to do as far as buying into Dreamweaver.

    First off, i feel like sites like Treehouse and Lynda are perfect for your level, and you will probably benefit more from them now than you would down the road. Personally I think these subscription services are ideal for new comers because you get a foot in the door and have some background to go off of, but not required. You could learn from free tutorials and from other things online, but it might be a tad more complicated. By following a course you, well follow a course. You learn in a way that teaches you one thing that leads up to another. While learning on your own you may jump around and never really connect anything.

    As far as Dreamweaver is concerned. Don't. I understand it sounds easier, but easy isn't always the best way, especially when in competition. Not to mention it only really helps with HTML/Css, both of which could be learned over a weekend. More than likely your biggest issue will be in the backend, which dreamweaver cant help you with. Go out and download one of the free IDE's like Notepad++, Brackets, or Sublime text to name a few. I personally use Brackets (which is made by adobe) and love it, but there really isn't a big difference between any of the 3. Most have similar features and do the same things. Its usually just personal preference. So maybe you should try out all 3?

    With all that in mind, Game has a point. You should pick a path that best suits you. I learn completely differently than my brother, and just because it works for me doesn't mean it will work for you.

    Quote Originally Posted by Farrsolo View Post
    Thanks for the replies this far, they are positive which I like. I agree with last few replies, it is hard to guide or provide guidance if you don't know the goal.

    The website, without giving it away can compare to Facebook, Kijiji, Twitter, Web Design Forum (haha) etc...it's isn't a social networking site, but it will allow the general public to access the site, with a free membership. The members will be allowed to upload/download/pm/open chat. There will be options for premium services which will require payment, so CC processing, PAYPAL, Secure Checkout are all options. Data storage will be another big factor when building the site and choosing a host.

    It will not be a flashy/intense graphics site, probably not even unique, but there is a market for it, a need for it. People will use the site. I can't see the site becoming international, but it will start locally, here in Ontario, Canada, then possibly nationwide.

    I chose not to start with the site idea, simply because any replies with tips or direction would most likely be jargon to me because I am so new. I would get lost almost immediately. But now that you know the site idea and my skill level.

    My idea when I started the thread, was everyone started somewhere. Either in class, you must have had a good book or resource you can remember. People who started on their own, website or online (work at your own pace program) free or fee. Start with the basics Notepad or Notepad++ that was mentioned above.

    I would like to build this site as fast as possible, but along the way learn how I did it. If that means a year or two or 5that's fine. Building this site would be a stepping stone, from here I could offer services (freelance type work)

    Thanks!
    This was posted while I made the above post, so will just add to it. My background is simple. I am a graphic designer and fell in love with coding while taking none other than a Dreamweaver class. I hated the class because Dreamweaver was so limited and I wanted to do so much more. They didn't teach us HTML/Css just how to accomplish things using DW. It drove me nuts! But i decided I had to know, so I picked up a free course at Codecademy on html/css and joined this forum. I consider myself self taught. The reason I mentioned Treehouse and Lynda over codecademy is because they were a little easier. Codecademy has this problem with requiring you to do it "their way" and even if a problem is right and it works, if its not exactly how they want you to do it, its wrong. I got a free trial of Treehouse for 14 days (i think the promotion is still going) and was able to learn the basics of Swift (what iOS apps are made out of) yet trying on my own i had spent about a month and felt so lost. So thats why I recommend taking a course over free youtube tutorials.

    As far as books are concerned, don't waste your time. By the time the book is published the info could very likely be outdated. Stick to online if I were you.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Last edited by Vapr_Arts; Dec 03rd, 2015 at 04:00 PM.

  8. #7
    WDF Staff mlseim's Avatar
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    I would say the goals of the website you are creating are really lofty, but anything can be done with enough time and learning. Years ago, we had to code everything by hand. There was no WordPress, Joomla, or any other content management system. Those frameworks, along with JQuery (javascripting), and even website services (like Weebly), have made it easier to 'get into' the web creation world. But you still need to learn coding skills because nothing comes with the exact features and specifications. How "I got started" will be a totally different story than how "you get started". I learned BASIC on a Teletype Terminal connected to a server via a telephone handset stuck into a modem with rubber cups. Then it was TRS-80 and Apple II BASIC. Even the "IBM PC" was not imagined yet.

    How I got my start ...

    teletype.jpg


  9. #8
    Unpaid WDF Intern TheGAME1264's Avatar
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    Mine's not that much more recent. The very first device I ever programmed anything on, back when I was 11 years old, was this:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dragon_32/64

    The 32 KB version, not the "upgrade". I "saved" my "programs" onto a cassette tape powered by a Lloyd's tape deck with a leather case

    As far as when/how I got started, I designed my first web page in 1996 as part of a university course. I got extra credit for learning how to use the Arial font in magenta on a black background...bear in mind that this was during a time when most web pages were black text on a grey background. My first project was in 1998, and it was similar to yours...I had an idea (not a social networking idea, a comedy site where I made fun of stuff) and it became incredibly popular. I got my first client from that (who happened to be an old friend of mine from back in the day), learned server-side programming, and kept going from there. I've done most of the things you've got on your list at one time or another...or lots of times.

    So, here's what I'd suggest:

    1) Roll your site out in stages. If you can avoid it, don't even think about payment processing in stage 1 unless it consists of a simple PayPal "Buy Now" button. You don't want to get into full-blown e-commerce at this point, because there are aspects of it that can be absolutely brutal both from a technical (e.g. server audits) and a legal (e.g. refund policy) standpoint. The easy part of e-commerce is creating the code to take the payment.

    2) Prepare to be really, really, really pissed off. I don't mean frustrated, either...I mean that point past frustration where the little vein pops out in your forehead because you've been trying to do something for several hours and oh my GOD why the hell isn't this working? It's going to happen, especially with a project the scope of yours.

    3) Make sure you document everything you do as much as you can, both inside and outside of your code. Normally I'm an advocate for minimal documentation, but you're learning so documenting your thought process will help it evolve and teach you how to make smart decisions with your coding.

    4) Learn from everywhere. There is no single source for learning, including WDF. You can pick things up here, and you can pick them up a thousand other places. Vapr_Arts listed off a few good starting points, but they're just that...starting points.

    5) Abandon sequential thought where/when you can. I'm an abstract sequential thinker so this is tough for me, but sometimes you're going to pick things up in a random order and be able to apply them. Being able to absorb and integrate knowledge on the fly is crucial.

    6) Think backwards when solving something. Work from your solution down to the problem. That way, you're applying knowledge and making sure you learn what's relevant to you.

    7) Avoid WYSIWYG editors. They won't help you. Others have suggested Notepad++ and that's fine, although at some point you'll want to look at editors more tailored to what you're trying to build and the languages you're trying to learn.

    Hopefully that will get you closer to where you want to be.
    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)

  10. #9
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    So I just had a thought cross my mind. Does everyone start in the same system or just totally random?
    I started in everate, there are a lot of stations there, and it wasn't all that bad to start in.
    Did anyone else start there?

  11. #10
    Unpaid WDF Intern TheGAME1264's Avatar
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    Never heard of it.
    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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