A Beginner’s Guide to Web Development

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What tools and skills do in web development? The basics of HTML, JavaScript, how websites and internet work are all featured in this guide. Read through the guide to learn more on the basics of web development. 

Saigon Technology, an award-winning web development company in Vietnam, shares their knowledge in this in depth article about web development.

Web development refers to the act of building a website. While the terms may bring to mind the immediate concepts related to web development such as coding and web markup, the entire web development process includes several other stages and tasks. These include server-side scripting, client-side scripting, network security and server security configurations, content management system development and ecommerce development, among others. 

This post aims to provide a basic guide to the web development process for beginner developers. 

What is a website and how do websites work 

Essentially, websites are files stored in cloud-interconnected servers called the internet. A website provides a specific gateway to a defined set of files containing information about a particular brand or organization. Websites are typically accessed through browsers like Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, or Safari, among others. 

Websites consist of client-side (front-end) and server-side (back-end). 

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Front-end development

The front-end refers to the visible parts of a website that users can see and interact with. Front-end development entails integrating three types of files, HTML, JavaScript and CSS.

HTML: HyperText Markup Language (HTML) forms the core of a website. This is the basic programming language used for web development. HTML provides the structure upon which the contents of a website appear. The different types of information are denoted using tags written between angle brackets. 

CSS: Cascading Style Sheets is used in web development to specify the style of the contents of a website. While HTML provides a structure to the contents of a website, CSS specifies the colors, fonts and layout of the content. Essentially, CSS allows developers to specify the aesthetic choices of a website. 

CSS code is written as plain and simple text in a code editor. The code can be added to HTML pages in three main ways. The code can be internal, external, or inline. The most common approach is the use of external style sheets where the files are saved in .css format. When applied, a single file determines the appearance of the entire web page. Inline and internal style sheets are often used on a case-by-case basis, particularly when there are unique changes in style to be made. 

Overall, CSS provides the aesthetics of a website. It augments the foundational elements of a website established by HTML. 

JavaScript: JavaScript helps define the functionality and behavior of a website. It provides a link for the CSS and HTML features of a website. Website features such as buttons, scrolling features and photo display, among others, are enabled by the use of JavaScript. 

Back-end web development 

Back-end web development forms the engine of web development. Essentially, back-end development entails developing the key frameworks that determine how a website functions. Some of the key components of the back-end include: 

Servers: Servers are the high-powered computers that provide shared resources such as file storage, databases, security and encryption, web services and email. A server provides that functionality of other components of the back-end of a website. 

Databases: Databases form the “brains” of a website. They are responsible for accepting queries, fetching data from servers and transmitting the data onto the website. 

Middleware: Middleware are the instruments that link the front-end and back-end sides of a website. These are responsible for channeling information from commands made by the users in the front end to the back-end and relaying the output back to the front-end. 

Programming Languages and frameworks: Here, developers have a myriad of backend web development technologies to choose from, depending on the specifics of their projects and personal preferences. The different languages and frameworks available come with varying compatibility, performances, bulkiness, file size and the programming style. Today, most sites are built on PHP, the most popular scripting languages for back-end development. Python, Ruby, Java, C#, C++, .NET, Perl, Scala and Node.js are also popular and widely-used programming languages for back-end development. 

The frameworks to use are also dependent on the programming language of choice. The top programming languages include Django for Python, Spring for Java, Node.js, ExpressJS and MeteoJS, Java Server Faces, Symfony for PHP and Ruby on Rails. 

APIs: Applications Programming Interfaces provides notes that connect applications, databases, software and services. Simply put, APIs allow the software to communicate with the data being transmitted. 

Other tools required for web development 

wordpress content management systems

There key tools necessary for web development include a text editor, a version control system and a browser. 

Texts Editors 

You will write your code within these environments. There exist many options of text editors for developers, each having its unique set of in-built tools. Some of the most common text editors include: 

  • Sublime Text 
  • Bracket 
  • Atom and;
  • Bracket 

Content Management Systems (CMS)
This refers to software used to edit, create and publish code projects. Again, there are varied options to choose from here, with your choice being dependent on your team size, users and ease of the interface. WordPress is a common CMS for beginners and is friendly for building publishing websites. Drupal, Joomla and Typo3 are also quite popular among web developers. 

Web Development Process 

Here is a brief overview of key steps in web development. 

  1. Planning 

This phase entails establishing the shape and form of the website. The key inputs in this section include defining the number of pages on the website, their organization and how they link together. A comprehensive plan, otherwise known as sitemap or wireframe, is critical in guiding the entire web development process. 

  1. Coding 

With the comprehensive plan that defines the architecture of the website, the next step is writing the code. As pointed out earlier, the nature of the project will define the programming language to use.HTML, CSS and JavaScript are top options for client-side development while Java, Python and C++ are often used for server-side coding. 

  1. Acquiring a Domain name 

With the front-end and back-end set up, and the website has an IP address, the next step is getting a domain name that will act as the register for the website on the internet. Typically, a domain name is renewable every year. 

In summary 

Web development is a wide field that cannot be exhausted. However, these are key foundational aspects of web development that can get you started in your first  project. 

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