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Thread: Newbie at large

  1. #1
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    Hello all!

    This is my first post. I have an idea for a new Web 2.0 service. I'm an exprienced C++ programmer. I also know basics of Photoshop. I am familiar with basic of GUI design. I am able to visualise my site. Unfortunately I have virtually no technical web building skills.

    My website will require dynamic front-end. Template generated pages, with some common navigation elements on top. Strong and flexible database back-end. Almost every page will be generated from database records. I need high security and scalability. My site needs accounts for every user, user profiles and nontrivial forms. It must be designed to handle thousands of users accessing database simultaneously. I will also need higly costomizable forum system.

    What kind of server side technology this will require? What kind of development tools I need? Which WYSIWYG editor? Which scripting language? How to implement dynamic front-end? Which databese to use? What kind of books should I pick up? I would be greatfull for some kind of guidance. Especially naming some technologies I should investigate.

    What is the most common combination of tools typicaly used by professionals to implement such a site?

    I am aware that this is nontrivial project, not suitable for a beginner. However I am willing to give it a try. I know it will takes months before I will master basics and get something reasembling my vision, but I have no other choice. Please help!

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  3. #2
    WDF Staff mlseim's Avatar
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    You'll be looking at PHP and MySQL.

    You could start with a PHP/MySQL membership script to handle the
    member registrations, profiles, etc. With that, the member status
    and log-in stuff could be incorporated into your other scripts.

    Search Google for many "PHP membership" scripts (free opensource).

    Then, possibly get some books to help with your PHP/MySQL learning,
    and view many online tutorials.

    A nice place to start, and the book is older, so you can find some cheap used books:

    http://www.amazon.com/PHP-MySQL-Web-...e=UTF8&s=books

    See the other versions also ... many to choose from.


  4. #3
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    Then again, if you're hunting for strictly performance, you may not want a prewritten script. You may also want to explore technologies beyond PHP/MySQL. That combination is the most popular, but not necessarily the cleanest. If you're familiar with Java, you can try to do with with J2EE, Jakarta Struts, JavaServer Faces, etc. I'm not a fan, but there we go. Other candidates include C# with ASP.NET, which will also be close to your existing C++ knowledge. If you're willing to learn a new language that is fairly different from C++, it's worth looking at Ruby and Ruby on Rails. Ruby is slower than C# or Java, but at the same time Rails is a very nice framework, and there are sites out there that show Rails can handle some serious server load (though I can't remember any off the top of my head).

    Database-wise, PostgreSQL and MS SQL Server are often mentioned, as well. MS SQL server is probably what you'll be using in conjunction with ASP.NET.

    The point is, you have many choices. You just have to look at what technology makes the most sense to you and find a webhost that supports it.

    Development tool-wise, I've always been a fan of a programmer's text editor combined with an FTP client (or SFTP, if you've got a good UNIX server backing you). I would highly advise *against* WYSIWYG tools.

    And you will most certainly need to learn XHTML and CSS.

    Now, the only direct advice I can give on books for learning is that, if you decide you want to use Ruby and Rails, the books Programming Ruby and Agile Web Development with Rails (there's a second edition coming out within the next month or two) are extremely good.

  5. #4
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    I think I will go for open source solutions. I don't want to be limited by Microsoft technology policy. Decision: PHP and MySQL.

    I need something like Visual Studio for websites. Full development environment supporting visual design, coding in PHP, using MySQL with deployment facilities. Since FrontPage has been discontinued, it seems that Dreamweaver is the only viable solution. Isn't it? Is Dreamweaver up to the task? Isn't Adobe more friendly to global open source standards like PHP and MySQL?

    Is PHP the only tool I need to implement dynamic front-end?

  6. #5
    WDF Staff mlseim's Avatar
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    Technically, you could only use PHP, but sometimes a little bit of Javascripting is
    nice (if it's not a requirement to access your site). So you might want to play around
    with some Javascripting too.

    I don't use any WYSIWYG editor. I use Notepad. Once you code a few pages
    with XHTML/CSS, you'll discover you can re-use a lot of code and CSS style sheets.
    The rest of it, all of the PHP can be done by hand anyhow.

    I think Dreamweaver adds a ton of unnecessary code, making it difficult to
    troubleshoot problems (escpecially CSS issues). But, you do what you feel most
    comfortable with.


  7. #6
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    My programming experience tells me that having a full development environment is a major asset. I will go for Dreamweaver then.

  8. #7
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    Your programming experience is likely largely based on OO, which PHP will give you very little of. Moreover, last I checked, Dreamweaver wasn't that great for PHP (i.e., not worth the cost). There's always Zend Studio, I suppose. Alternatively, I'd hunt to try and find an extension to Eclipse that supports PHP. And I should mention that, of the options I listed, the only one that wasn't Open Source was C#/ASP.NET (although Mono should support ASP.NET at some point). Java is, or should be soon (can't remember at this point), and Rails certainly is. And among the database solutions, so is PostgreSQL (and filburt swears by it :-P).

    Which is not to say your choice is bad, just that the reasons you gave, if they are your only ones, do not eliminate all other options. I'll also mention that Ruby (and thus Rails) supports OO in a better way than PHP does, and it is an extremely rapid environment to develop in.

    My advice would be, take a week, walk through some tutorials on each of the technologies, and then decide. Once you've decided what technologies you'll be using, I'd also poke around and see what the communities in those technologies recommend in terms of development. In the Rails community, for example, people swear by TextMate (though it's only for OS X). Me, I swear by ViM, but that's a recent development ;-)

  9. #8
    Senior Member filburt1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowfiend
    Your programming experience is likely largely based on OO, which PHP will give you very little of. Moreover, last I checked, Dreamweaver wasn't that great for PHP (i.e., not worth the cost). There's always Zend Studio, I suppose. Alternatively, I'd hunt to try and find an extension to Eclipse that supports PHP. And I should mention that, of the options I listed, the only one that wasn't Open Source was C#/ASP.NET (although Mono should support ASP.NET at some point). Java is, or should be soon (can't remember at this point), and Rails certainly is. And among the database solutions, so is PostgreSQL (and filburt swears by it :-P).

    Which is not to say your choice is bad, just that the reasons you gave, if they are your only ones, do not eliminate all other options. I'll also mention that Ruby (and thus Rails) supports OO in a better way than PHP does, and it is an extremely rapid environment to develop in.

    My advice would be, take a week, walk through some tutorials on each of the technologies, and then decide. Once you've decided what technologies you'll be using, I'd also poke around and see what the communities in those technologies recommend in terms of development. In the Rails community, for example, people swear by TextMate (though it's only for OS X). Me, I swear by ViM, but that's a recent development ;-)
    You bet.
    filburt1, Web Design Forums.net founder
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