Web development is fascinating and starting programming can be the beginning of a rewarding career. Christopher East offers his take on which language to tackle first.

Christopher EastIt is important when you start out on the adventure that is learning a programming language that you choose a language which will achieve your own core aims around what you would like to get out of it and what you would like to end up with when you are finished programming.

Sometimes this process is very simple, because other people dictate several of the criteria for you, so sometimes you might be told that you need to develop a PHP application, which obviously strips all the languages down to one. You may be told for compatibility, ethical, or other reasons, but if you have questions about why this is the case, and why you have been told to use this specific language, don’t hesitate to ask.

At other times, you might find the choice overwhelming, and this is something I hope to help you with when it comes to choosing and then finding ways and opportunities to progress in one or more than one of the languages you decide to take up.

However, if you decide you want to support as many devices as possible, then it is common to look at a web based language, such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, Perl, VB.NET, C#.NET, C++.NET or others.

Once you’ve made that choice, your possible language choices drop dramatically, however, there are a core of 3 and possibly 4 languages, which I would recommend that you look at, at least on a high level overview basis. These are;

  • HTML
  • CSS
  • JavaScript

And possibly, XML.

The reason I include XML is that it is incredibly useful and is being used considerably more over recent times. However, not all the web focused languages use it extensively, however, as it stands, I believe it is very a good language to know.

If you are looking at getting into web development, and web programming, then these languages should be your first step into the world of web development. However, once you’ve got to grips with those languages, then you’ll have a much more significant choice, and something I believe is your first major choice, other than deciding you want to learn how to do web development!

The first major choice you will have to make is whether you want to use Microsoft based technologies, or open-source technologies. That is a choice which many people make for so many different reasons, that we could never hope to go through them all here.

Once you’ve made your choice about whether or not to use open-source languages, Microsoft based languages, or other closed source languages, although few of those exist to this day.

It is important when choosing your defining language that you understand the difference between frontend and backend languages. In the briefest possible way, this is my explanation the differences between frontend and backend languages.

Frontend languages directly affect what they display, they define the layout, change the colours, define the font sizes, they say where something should be, and what the thing should look like.

Backend languages provide a link between the server and the frontend languages. They allow you to get information to the frontend language, so that it can be displayed. They provide the thing for the frontend to display.

These are very generalised descriptions, but accurate when you use a backend language, which generally are the languages which people spend considerable amounts of time learning.

Some people choose to specialise in the frontend languages, and others choose to specialise in backend languages. However, it is possible to learn both types to some degree, but it is difficult to master both types of languages because their principles and practices are different to one another.

I suggest you try as many different languages as you have the option of, research and learn about them, learn about how they compare to other languages and if they have similarities to any other languages which you may already know, or be familiar with.

Once you have established that this is the right language for you, whatever that language may ultimately end up being. If you believe it is the one for you, then the next step is to practice, learn, and enhance your own knowledge by making sure that you practice the language as often as you can, ideally daily in some way.

This will allow you to pick up the language as quickly and as accurately as possible. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of others who may know more than you, and make sure that you try and create something as often as you are able and practice as much as you can. I may have repeated myself here, but that is because it is very important to do these things!

So, to wrap up, where should you start when you want to learn a web development language, well you should start by working out what language you want to pursue, and then, spending time researching and learning about it.

Then learn the language, the same way as you would learn any other language, practice often, and regularly, and practice with others. You will gain twice as much experience by practicing with others than you will by practicing on your own!

About the author

This blog is brought to you by the members of the BCS Internet specialist group and allows you to harness their skills, expertise and knowledge. The internet is ubiquitous and has a major impact on our daily lives, at work, at home on the move. The associated risks and security concerns are real, but the magic and advantages of the internet are significant.