In this post, I’ll tell you about 20 things that are good to know when you’re about to start, or have just started, your web development career. This will help you manage expectations and set you on the right path.
When I started with web development, there were a lot of things that I didn’t know that would have been good to know. In hindsight, a lot of the expectations I had weren’t even close to the real situation. In this piece, I’ll tell you about 20 things that are good to know when you’re about to start, or have just started, your web development career. This will help you manage expectations and set you on the right path.
To start programming you don’t need a degree. Most things can be found on the internet, especially the basics. You can teach yourself how to program all by yourself, with some help from the internet.
Since you just started web development, you don’t have all the knowledge that’s required to solve certain problems yet. This is totally fine, and it doesn’t mean that you can’t solve these problems. Knowing how and what to google is a serious skill that can save you a lot of time.
Most relatively unexperienced developers write fancy code. This is a way of showing off and letting other developers know how well they can code. This is not what you should do. Keep your code as simple as possible.
From my experience, developers are kind of lazy when it comes to testing their work. Most developers will agree that testing is not the most fun part of their job. In the end, you’re a developer who tries to make stuff, not break it.
And then we have deadlines. Most of the time, you have to deal with a deadline. Once there’s the slightest idea of missing the deadline, one of the first things that get sacrificed is testing. This really happens, even though everybody agrees that it’s not good for the end result.
It doesn’t matter if you are estimating a feature in hours or giving points to a user story during the refinement. Estimations in software development are never even close! There’s always going to be this one little feature that you think you can build in one hour. Once you’ve opened the code, you realize that you have to restructure a big part of the application to get this little feature to work. Well, so much for that time estimation.
When you are just starting out as a developer, you just really want to fix things. If the code works, it’s fine. To inexperienced developers, working software and good software are considered the same. But as you grow as a developer, you will eventually look at some old piece of code and think, Did I really write this spaghetti code? Well, there is really just one thing that you can do in this type of situation: Have a good laugh about it and clean up the mess that you made earlier.
Debugging your code is a big part of your job. Writing bug-free code is impossible, especially when you’re not that experienced. The thing that makes debugging time-consuming for inexperienced developers is that they don’t know where to look. And sometimes they don’t even know what to look for. The worst part is that a lot of the time, you’ve created these bugs yourself.
Internet Explorer, also referred to as Internet Exploder, will make you feel bad about all the CSS that you’ve written. Even the most basic styling will break in Internet Explorer. At some point, you will ask yourself why there are so many different browsers. Most companies will work around this problem by only supporting Internet Explorer 11 and newer, which helps.
Eventually, the development server or version control server will go down. If you’re not working on your local machine, this means that you can’t do anything. And there is nothing you can do about it. Well, time for a coffee break, I guess.
You will at least once have a conversation with another developer who is super-excited about a new technique or tool. You end up agreeing to most of what the other person said. But the truth is that you didn’t understand most of that conversation.
Programming is all about applying knowledge. There is no need to memorize everything. You can always look for a resource on the internet. You just have to know where to find the right resource. Memorization will come while you work on projects and once you get more experienced.
And on top of that, you need to be creative. Programming is all about solving problems. The same problem can be solved in multiple ways. Creativity comes into play to solve problems in an easy and effective way.
A lot of your time will be spent reading. Reading about new techniques, best practices, tooling, and staying up to date with things that happen in the industry. And let’s not forget about books. Reading is a great way to expand your knowledge and stay up to date.
Trying to get your website to look awesome on all devices can be a real pain. Since there are so many different devices and browsers, there is always a combination of a browser and device that doesn’t look great.
Debugging can be very time-consuming, especially when you don’t know where to look or what to look for. Having a good understanding of how your code works and mastering the tools to debug will save you a lot of time. A good way to improve your debugging skills is to learn how the developer tools in your browser work.
When you run into a problem that you don’t know how to solve, you will probably google for an answer. Most of the time, you’ll find suggested solutions on forums, like StackOverflow, that will give you a good push in the right direction. But also most of the time, the suggested solution can’t be simply copied and pasted to solve your problem. This where your problem-solving skills and creativity are needed.
Before you start typing any code you should spend a little bit of time on searching a good IDE. There are a lot of good IDEs, both free and paid, out there, which will make your life as a developer a lot easier. IDEs can help you out with syntax highlighting and showing syntax errors. Most IDEs support plugins that allow you to customize your IDE.
If you are used to using a Graphical User Interface (GUI), working with the terminal might seem kind of intimidating at first. But knowing your way around the terminal can make you more efficient. The terminal is a very powerful tool that makes it possible to complete tasks much more quickly than you could with graphical tools. Working with the terminal is something that you should really want to learn and get comfortable with.
When you want to build some standard feature, you should really check GitHub to make sure you’re not reinventing the wheel. There is probably already a popular and stable library for the feature that you’re looking to recreate. Look for active projects that have good documentation. If you want to add additional features or rewrite some feature, you could always create a merge request or fork the project.
Thank you for reading!
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