Learning Web Development – the basics

Learning Web Development – the basics

Web development is a comprehensive term describing the tasks involved in developing a website for the internet to be accessed worldwide or for the intranet, accessed on a private network. Creating a large website if you are a beginner is not an easy task, so you have to start by learning from a small site. Once you get a small site, probably a personal one, online, then you can move on to bigger and more complicated sites. There are several steps required in developing a website. Below are detailed procedures for learning web development.

Understanding how the web works

Understanding the basic terminologies of the internet will speed up the process of learning web development. Two important terms involved in a web situation is a client and a server; a client makes a request to a server through a web browser. A server responds to the client’s requests and sends results to the browser. The process involves an HTTP call, (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol). HTTP is the foundation that enables communication over the web. For data to be conveyed between the client and the server, it has to be divided into packets. A packet, according to the Internet is a unit of data transferred between a client and a server.

Setting up the development environment.

After understanding how the web works, it’s time to set up the development environment. You start by installing necessary web development programs. You require three things; a text editor, a local server for running the code, and a web browser to see the changes. There are plenty of text editors you can choose from; Dreamweaver, notepad, notepad++, Netbeans, PhpStorm, etc. For a beginner, notepad ++ is the best choice so that you learn by typing your code completely. For your local server, you can install Xampp, or Wamp if you are using Windows. There’s also Lampp and Mampp for Linux and Mac OS respectively. These local servers perform the tasks of a real web server; they store your files and data, and they serve the client’s requests to the browser. For the browser, you should choose from the modern browsers available like Mozilla, Chrome, Torch, Safari, and Microsoft Edge.

Planning your website

You should ask yourself these questions to assist you plan. How do you want your site to look like? What information are you planning to share on it? What are the fonts and colors you would want to incorporate in it? Answering these questions can help you plan out before starting the coding process. Sketch your designs as they would look on a browser. You also need to select your assets; these are images, fonts and theme color. You can browse for images from the internet and save them for later use, or take them with your camera, or even develop your image assets using Photoshop or your favorite image editor. For the fonts, Google fonts offer a free font generator; you can check out their website and save the code for later use.

The Basics of HTML

HTML is an abbreviation for HyperText Markup Language. It’s the language used to structure the appearance of a web page. The structure considers what you will have on your website. These include paragraphs, subheadings, images, list points, etc. HTML instructs the web browser on how to display these elements by embedding them in a set of tags. An example of a tag to display a paragraph is <p> your sentences here </p>, a heading for a page can be displayed with <h3>Heading text</h3>

The basics of CSS

CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheet. It’s the code used to improve the aesthetics of a website, I.e. styling to make it look appealing. It tells the browser what color to show for a given text, sets the background image for a web page, places texts on different parts of the page, and controls hyperlink appearance, etc. For example, you can set the color of all paragraph elements to blue using this CSS code: p {color:blue;} . The structure of CSS is comprised of three elements, selector, property, property value.

The basics of JavaScript

JavaScript adds interactive features to the web page dynamically. For example, how forms should behave, how data should be submitted to the server, animations, games, etc.

Web development languages

The basics of PHP

PHP stands for PHP HyperText Preprocessor. It’s a server-side programming language. It handles the requests made to the server and returns responses to the client. It’s the language used to communicate with the database and return the data back to the client.

Where to save your files

After writing the code for your web pages, you need to save the files in a location in the server so that they can be viewed on a browser. This can be referred to as publishing your website. For testing, you can save the files in your local server, in a folder called htdocs. Then fire up the server from the Xampp control panel. If you navigate to the URL http://localhost/  on your browser, you should be able to see your first basic web page. From there you are in a position to keep improving your knowledge and develop a bigger website.

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