Three months into my first job out of college, as a web developer at a financial reporting company, I wiped out every single one of my company’s client records in one command. I had uploaded a script meant to eliminate one client, but quickly realized that it removed all of them and I couldn’t get the records back. (This was in the early 2000s, when it was less common to work locally before sending code to your live website.) I went into full-on crisis mode and started getting my resume ready, resigned to the fact that I was going to be fired. I was even Googling to see if I could be sued for what I had done.
Thankfully, a tech manager saved the day by telling me about the company’s nightly database backup and we quickly fixed most of the problem. But until that moment, I was sweating bullets.
As a web developer, you’re going to fail — often, and sometimes in huge ways — whether you’re a newbie or a veteran (see this recent mishap at GitLab.com, for example). But messing up doesn’t have to be stressful. In fact, when it does happen, staying calm is key because panic can cloud your judgement and force you to make rash decisions.
Not long after I changed careers to become a full-stack web developer, I received an odd Facebook message from a family friend. “I visited your website,” he wrote, “and I’m still trying to figure out what pancakes have to do with websites.”
Clever…or clueless? I’m still unsure. But one thing is certain: IHOP needs to move over; the term “full stack” isn’t about pancakes anymore.
So, you want to learn to code? Awesome! Knowing how to code can help you level-up in your current role, open new career opportunities, and empower you to make your app or website ideas come to life. But where should you start?
Although hotly contested among developers, most novice coders begin their education by learning the basics of front-end web development, or the client-facing side of web development. The front-end involves what the end user sees, like the design/appearance of the web page.
Below, I explain the difference between these three “languages,” and how they work in concert to get a simple website up and running.
Photo source: Google Creative Commons
Over the past few years, students and workers across the United States (and the world) have heard the battle cry to learn code. With over 120,000 open technology jobs in the U.S. alone, skilled professionals are needed to take businesses and technology to the next level. Some organizations, such as Code.org, have begun enlisting celebrities to learn code—using their influence to encourage others, particularly minorities in tech, to follow their lead.
While some celebs have unexpected backgrounds in technology, others are learning code for the first time. The range of individuals advocating for diversity in computing spans industries and age brackets—and some of them might surprise you.
Alex Klein was an imaginative kid who didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life. He expressed his creativity through acting, art, and finally, non-fiction writing before entering grad school at Cambridge to study philosophy and politics.
Meet Jerome Hardaway, an Opportunity Fund recipient and Veteran who worked in marketing and design before enrolling in GA’s Web Design Immersive course in New York City. Now, Jerome is using his web development skills to build his own startup, FRAGO, which helps Veterans transition more smoothly into civilian life.
Learn more about Frago @FRAGO_US and keep up with Jerome @JeromeHardaway. Continue reading
Before her Front-End Web Development course at General Assembly DC, Kaitlynn worked for a small non-profit on Capitol Hill. By merging her Economics degree, business development experience, and desire to have a career in web development, she landed a job at NASA as a Software Engineer.
Working as an engineer on major New York City projects, Andrea wanted to shift careers. He loved the problem solving and design of engineering and construction, but wanted a different challenge. Andrea decided to take BEWD to introduce him to the world of web development and he hacked his way into a new career.
When you’re crafting content for the web, how does the browser know to place a break between paragraphs? For that matter, how does it know to make a page’s background one color, and the navigation bar another color? HTML and CSS are the answer: Browsers read HTML, a markup language, to determine what shows up on the page, and where. CSS, or cascading style sheets, determines how content appears throughout a website. That is to say, HTML will tell the browser “this is a header” and CSS will say “all headers should be green.”
Related Story: 4 Reasons to Code Your Own Website, Even Though There’s Squarespace
By 2020, there will be 1.4 million computer specialist job openings, according to the Department of Labor. There is much debate over whether or not everyone should learn code, but in a time when communicating with a computer seems almost more important than communicating in a second language, it makes sense that computer science skills be taught to all kids as part of their curriculum. The basics of coding are not necessarily difficult to master, and starting to learn young teaches kids how to ask questions, problem solve, and see new possibilities for what they are capable of creating.
Even President Obama has advocated for computer science education in America’s high schools. “Don’t just buy a new video game. Make one. Don’t just download the latest app. Help design it. Don’t just play on your phone. Program it,” said the President in his message to promote Computer Science Education Week in 2013.