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Old 06-05-2004, 07:35 PM   #1
atheist
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html, xml, php, mysql


I've been wanting to start designing web pages. I've set up apache with php and mysql. The next thing I did was rush out for some tutorials. That's where I stopped. The tutorials available only really teach you the basics. And thanks to them I'm now familiar with all of those things: html, xml, php. But, I really can't do anything with them. From what I understand I need to know all of those things to build a good website, right?

So, I guess what I'm asking for is a tutorial that DOESN'T teach you the basics but takes you through the process of actually building the website itself. The last two days have gone into reading a BUNCH of basically the same stuff. And I really don't need another person telling me what echo does and then sending me off to design a web site.

I'm also open for book recommendations. But only as a last resort since I live in Iceland and there really aren't alot of good book stores here so I really mostly on Amazon when it comes to books. The thing about that is that the shipping of books from there takes 2-3 weeks. In 2-3 weeks I would like to have already gotten the hang of web designing. But if all else fails...

Any recommendations, thoughts, comments, help, etc greatly appreciated since I'm having a headache from searching through tutorials with my beloved friend Mr. Google.
 
Old 06-06-2004, 12:13 AM   #2
NewTuxGirl
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Well....firstly, to build a good webpage takes more than basic technical skills. In addition to stanards compliant html, you also need to learn CSS and javascript. Also, you should take some time to learn how to properly organize a site (from the user's standpoint), and basic visual design principles. Here in the states, you're often expected to play graphic designer on freelance projects (and sometimes corporate, if they are really small), so a basic proficiency with photoshop isn't a bad idea. If you work strictly on your own, you might be able to just use GIMP, although if the client wants images they will want them in PSD format.

You will also need to familiarize your self with browser quirks. There are currently 6 you probably need to worry about, to cover almost all of your audience: IE on PC and Mac, Safari on Mac, and Mozilla on Mac, PC, and Linux. Most sources say to test Opera, also, but versions prior to 7 are very difficult to accommodate. Also, if the target market for the site is not very tech-savvy, you may have version 4 browsers from IE and Navigator to contend with. Finally, if the market is VERY tech-savvy, you'd better structure it to work on PDA's and cellphone browsers. Government sites will require adherence to accesibility guidelines as well.

As far as XML...learning how to structure XML itself is just scracthing the surface...how are you using it? Is it supplying data to a backend script, or being used for actual page rendering? You will probably need to learn XPATH and XSLT as well, if you want to use XML to render the pages.

You really want to do this? Here's some books I recommend:

Any subject, the book by O'Reilly's. They have a book for just about everything. However, their CSS book, while a good quick reference, is a bit outdated.

Designing with Web Standards, by Jeffrey Zeldman

Recommended sites:

www.scriptarchive.com - well-documented canned cgi-scripts, many are free

www.alistapart.com - lots of articles about best-practices, safe hacks, and neat tricks

www.mattkruse.com - free scripts in many languages, including dom-compliant and well-documented javascript

www.w3schools.com - tutorials in everything web. very clear and to the point

www.w3c.org - standards-setting organization. Includes validators for different types of html, css, and xml

As far as practical learning, the best thing I can recommend is to build 'fake' sites. Just think of something and build it, then clean up the code til it is both neat and functional.
 
Old 06-06-2004, 01:10 AM   #3
atheist
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Thanks alot for your reply. It's been really helpful. I don't really have time right now to check out the links or search amazon for the books since its 6am here and I should be going to sleep but I'll comment more in the morning when I wake up.

The reason I'm doing this is that I want to be able to design sites as a part time job along with school next semester so I'm pretty serious about this and am willing to allocate alot of my time trying to learn this summer.

I have an apache server set up with php and mysql set up so I can pretty much goof around as much as I like to. The problem just being I haven't really gotten used to web programming. I've programmed quite a using C/C++ though. I'm thinking looking through some code might do me good at the moment.

As for the Photoshop comment. I like it more than GIMP due to the user interface but haven't been able to use it except for on my laptop (dualbooting Win XP Pro and Debian on it). I'm currently trying to get Photoshop 7 running on Linux but I get this weird "uninstallshield in use" error while trying to wine it. http://www.linuxquestions.org/questi...hreadid=190214

Another thing, opinions on editors would be appreciated. I'm currently thinking bluefish is quite nice, but good old nano is also an option. I came accross Bluefish while browsing the apt archieves and thought I'd give it a try. Are there any other similiar editors? (I haven't done any research on this, but will in the morning).
 
Old 06-06-2004, 11:01 AM   #4
NewTuxGirl
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Not sure what you mean by 'editors'...do you meant WYSIWYG? (like Dreamweaver?) What is bluefish? Sorry, total newbie......I don't use WYSIWYG's they usually write terrible code. HTML is not that bad to learn, if you want to. But from my experience you will *only* learn it well if you really want to. It can be tricky, because the browser will render broken code, but the results are unreliable....so it can be tedious figuring out whether you are dealing with broken code or browser quirks. The validators on W3C are very helpful in this regard. Just remember that code may not give you the results you want, even if it is 'valid'. The browsers are still not totally in synch when it comes to implementing web standards.

I'm sorry, but I can't help with the Photoshop error. I'm still trying to learn how to install Samba. Not even close to attempting Wine yet.

I have two suggestions you may want to consider:

1. See if you can find a front-end person and pair up to work on projects together. It sounds like you are more interested in the programming aspect than in the visual design and user interface. Just make sure that they are committed to writing their code well. Many graphic designers (AND programmers) write shoddy HTML and CSS because they can get away with it and still make 'their' part work. The front-end person should an understanding of, and interested in preserving, web standards. The 'Designing with Web Standards' book is invaluable for this and my #1 must-read for anyone getting into this field.

2. If you have any free time this summer, volunteer to do a freebie site for a couple of non-profits or small businesses. It's a great way to practice your skills and get a feel for the process without the stress of trying to meet the deadlines of a paying client. Plus, you will not be able to get anyone to pay you unless you have something to show them. I am still working on freebies (I'm a front-end web apps developer at my day-job, I would like to freelance). My target is three for the portfolio, plus my own biz site. Stay away from e-commerce for the first two sites so you don't get overwhelmed.

Hope that's helpful!
 
Old 06-06-2004, 02:30 PM   #5
atheist
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Again. Very helpful. Thanks.

Those sites you pointed me to earlier look great. Especially the w3 ones, looks like they've got some nifty tutorials over there, although I haven't checked them out yet. I'll be doing that as soon as I finish this post and probably spending the next few hours there.

About the editors: Dreamweaver is a big no. I want to write my own code, and do it well. Not have something do it for me. ^^ I'm talking about text editors design for web programming and come with syntax highlighting. Bluefish is very good at that and I think I'll keep using it. It's very easy to work on multiple documents at once with and it has alot of nifty features.

About getting Samba to work: it was a pain for my when I first tried to get it to work too. I had just installed Linux without know anything about it but somehow I managed. I'd love to help if you tell me about your problem. I've been thinking about writing a newbie friendly article anyway on setting up a working Debian system from scratch with all the little things I've spent so many hours trying to get too work. I'm hoping that might convert some of my Windows friends.

1. Pairing up with a front end person. Now that does sound tempting. I'm not much of a graphics designer myself, but I do like coding. Writing shoddy code, though, is not my thing if I may say so myself. I've always been obsessed with optimization, portability and compatibility. This has slowed alot of my projects down alot. But, hey. I think it's a better way to learn. Now the problem is... I don't know anyone that would be even remotely interested in being "my frontend person" so that idea will probably have to wait a bit.
Designing with Web Standards, by Jeffrey Zeldman does have alot of positive user reviews and does sound very good. I guess I'll be ordering that ASAP. Though it might take 2-3 weeks to get here. Thanks alot for the recommendation.

2. Doing freebie sites for non-profits and small businesses. Now that is a good idea. It would be kinda scary diving into projects with deadlines without any experience so, yeah. Thanks again for the good suggestion.

Are there any other must have web design books you know of? I've never read any O'Reilly books but I've heard bad things about them... Any specific ones you recommend? (I need some more books to buy from amazon since the sending costs to Iceland are pretty heavy so I'd better make good use of them. ^^)

Again, thanks so much for the very helpful reply.
 
Old 06-06-2004, 03:03 PM   #6
david_ross
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Moved: This thread is more suitable in Programming and has been moved accordingly to help your thread/question get the exposure it deserves.
 
Old 06-06-2004, 10:54 PM   #7
NewTuxGirl
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Atheist -

Re: Samba....I'm running into various problems. I tried to do an automatic install with the package manager. (I'm on Fedora Core 2, by the way) However, I am having a problem where when I switch CDs, it suddenly cannot seem to read the new cd. I tried ejecting via the desktop icon, and also doing a manual unmount, but it still did not work. I then tried booting from the cd and selecting 'upgrade', but it skipped right over package selection. (I suppose Fedora and a laptop aren't the best combination for a first linux distro! :tsk: )

Next I went out in search of Samba rpms. I have so far been unable to find rpms, online source tarballs. I downloaded one of these and attempted a manual install. On make, I get an error to 'rerun autoconfig Using FLAGS= -0....' followed by a large block of various attributes in capital letters followed by values (strings representing filepaths). I tried simply copying and pasting these blocks into the command line, but received an error message on the first attribute after the include statements. I have to give up for the week, and will attempt it again next weekend. I just need the laptop to tunnel into work for now, though I will need to resolve this in order to print on my network printers.

As far as finding a partner, you said you're going to school, right? I expect you should be able to track someone down there. A lot of people do the front-end stuff as a hobby. If they are willing to learn the correct way to code, then a hobbyist may work out as a partner. If you aren't a graphics person, definitely worth it. My freebie projects have involved more time for optimizing graphics and fixing text than writing code. Other books....I'll have to think on that one.

I kind of crash-coursed everything on the fly at work, so I'll have to think about which books were most helpful....definitely get Zeldman, though. O'Reilly's 'Webmaster in a Nutshell' is also a good one, IMO. Heard bad things about O'Reilly's? For real? They have a couple that aren't so great (skip the CSS and 'Web Design in a Nutshell--both outdated), but they are the first series that most people I know look to when they need to learn a new skill. Deitel & Deitel have good books for learning, but I don't know if they have books for front-end web development. If there's a SAMS Teach Yourself in 24 book for XHTML it may be a good place to start to learn clean html (xhtml, actually, which is the most current standard). Ditto for a CSS books. They are tutorial-style, each 'hour' being a lesson in a certain function. A little tedious at times, but not bad for understanding the funcamentals if you are dedicated enough to follow it through. I learn better by doing it wrong and then figuring out how to fix it, so I've never actually worked through one of the tutorial books. Look for recommendations on sites that look like they know what they are talking about (like W3schools and alistapart). Ask other developers--try posting on an appropriate forum on devshed.com and other web developer sites with forums. You'll get recommendations.

Good luck to you! I don't know about Iceland, but in the US, web development jobs can be hard to come by. Put your heart into your freebies. They will be your most important selling tool when it's time to look for work, so pull out all the stops! Encourage the 'client' to add features. It will require more work from you, as well as fast learning, but it is the most efficient way to build up your skills and ultimately get paid work.

Lemme know if there's anything else I can tell you!
 
Old 06-07-2004, 07:15 AM   #8
evrae
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I would reccomend a good E-Book.. If you added my MSN @ support@cyclone-hosting.com I could help you out =)
 
Old 06-07-2004, 01:28 PM   #9
atheist
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NewTuxGirl: Woh... you're a girl? o_O Oh well. About samba. Did you try using the FLAGS= -0 etc as arguments to ./configure? I can't really help you more than that sorry. I'm noticing you're using Fedora now as a first distro. Now, I don't want to be one of those preaching types who argue over what the best distro is. But if I can speak from my experience... having first installed Red Hat 9. I must say Red Hat based distros are, in my humble opinion, not good as first distros. Red Hat took all the joy out of Linux for me and in the whole month I used it... I learned absolutely nothing. If you want to learn Linux, install Debian. You'll learn much more from it. Plus it's alot easier in use than Fedora/Mandrake. (Again speaking from my rather limited experience with those distros.)It's packaging system alone is worth it. The solution to your samba problem if you were using Debian would for example be: "apt-get update && apt-get install samba && nano /etc/samba/smb.conf". If you're interested, I would be happy to guide you through the installation/setup process and pointing you to some articles I've bookmarked somewhere. As I'm writing the article I mentioned before it would even help me to know which problems you'd run into. Just let me know.
Quote:
As far as finding a partner, you said you're going to school, right? I expect you should be able to track someone down there. A lot of people do the front-end stuff as a hobby. If they are willing to learn the correct way to code, then a hobbyist may work out as a partner. If you aren't a graphics person, definitely worth it. My freebie projects have involved more time for optimizing graphics and fixing text than writing code. Other books....I'll have to think on that one.
Heh, you'd be surprised how dense people over here are when it comes to computers. I live in a really small town in Iceland by the way. But, people being this dense is providing me with freelance projects. Or... will be providing me with freelance projects. Most people not having any idea of how to design web sites (or how to send emails for that matter) is helping with the availability of projects. Or so it seems to me. It's why I'm trying to learn.
Again, you've been very helpful. Thank you. Thanks to you I believe I'm on the right track. Just let me know if I can be of any help.

evrae:Thanks, that sounds good. I'm julius@heimsnet.is on msn. Which reminds my. NewTuxgirl, if you need any help, though I'm not very proficient with the Red Hat distros, you're more than welcome to contact me at msn.
 
  


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