My body jumped when I first saw the words “Hello World” appear on an empty page in my browser. All I did was write a five-line text file, and type the command
node server.js into the command line and there it was, “Hello World”, the first words of the first server I ever created. It was a rush, I could feel my heart racing as I continued reading The Node Beginner Book, examining every word and trying to understand every line of the elegant Node.js http server.
And I said hello to the world.
The ever-growing universe
There is nothing more exhiliarating to me than learning web development. It feels like Christmas morning, only the internet is my Christmas tree and the tools and features of programming are my presents.
The community of web developers fosters personal growth like no other community I have ever seen. Everyone knows how difficult it is to begin, and everyone wants to help give back in some way. The internet is bursting with resources to help you learn as much programming as you can possibly handle. Professional advice and best practices are within reach, and free for anyone to read.
And the best part is, there is no end. Instead of there being some forseeable edge of what I can learn, or some final unwrapped gift that sits by itself in the back corner of the room, each discovery makes me realize just how little I know, and just how much I still have to learn. It’s like travelling deep into space, hoping to find the edge, and the distance just getting further and further away, as you keep passing galaxies that could not be seen from where you started. Each tool leads to a new library, which leads to a new framework or an entirely new programming language.
When I started learning, there were a few things I did that worked well for me. I was lucky enough to find Chris Coyier’s website csstricks.com, which made everything click for me. Specifically, I found his Beginner Articles, geared just for my level, and saw the whole picture once I watched his screen cast HTML & CSS – The VERY Basics. I cannot speak highly enough about Chris Coyier, if you want to be introduced to web development, let him be the one to welcome you in.
From Chris’s advertisements, I found treehouse, a paid service that walked me through every single bit of HTML and CSS knowledge I have today. I was ready to make the commitment to pay for the service, and it has been well worth it for me.
For the curious and the brave
That has been my track so far, and you can follow that track if you wish. Personally, if I could start over, I would want someone to give me this guide, which can tantilize your tastes and give you the building blocks to becoming a pretty good web developer:
- Get excited
- See the amazing things you can do with the web at the Chrome Experiments website. Specifically, check out this crazy particle field and the project 100,000 stars.
- Play with some cool community-made code bits at codepen.io. My favorites are this tearable cloth, and these cute loaders.
- Test the water
- Watch Chris Coyier’s screencast HTML & CSS – The VERY Basics, which gives you the fundamentals I wish I knew from the beginning.
- Sign up for codecademy.com, a wonderful free interactive coding guide that gets you hands-on web exposure.
- Sign up for Anselm Hannemann’s free Web Development Reading List, by far the best reading list for finding more out about the community and the newest learning resources.
- Take deep breath and jump
- Try out and maybe sign up for a paid service like treehouse or code school, both of which are really great at teaching you exactly what you need to learn.
- Hone your skills at codewars.com, if you enjoy learning by challenges.
- Start working towards becoming a superhero by reading everything on Superhero.js. I am still working through this myself.
- Marvel at all of the free programming books on reSRC’s List of Free Programming Books.
I will be running with you
I hope that I was able to get you excited about learning web development, and partially on the way to learning the great things programming has to offer. This journey has been one of the most enriching experiences of my life, and it will continue to be as I learn more in the future. Thank you for reading, and let me know if you have any other ideas on Twitter @thejakepruitt or by email at email@example.com.