What programming languages should I learn for web development?

php, html5, js

If your goal is to build a text based game online, like a choose your own adventure game/interactive books. I have never coded before. I have done some research and I think I am more interested in “back-end” web development.Please correct me if the term is wrong.I don’t want to create graphics.I would like to know the best language(in your opinion) a complete newbie should learn.I am pretty sure I will need the basics, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, am I correct?

But after that which way should I head?

Also, if anyone knows of any(preferably free) resources to help learn any of the languages I will need to learn? If not, it’s fine, this isn’t as important as figuring out which languages to head for first.

Any information or tips given will be really appreciated, and I thank you for taking the time to read this and help me out.

This answer is couched in the caveats that you want to build something yourself, and that you want to start with no experience at all. If you have prior programming experience, or will be hiring a team of experts to do the building, I think the other answers will offer you more useful perspective.

However, I empathize with the pain of not knowing how to write a single line of code, and having a burning desire to build something on the web. If that’s where you are, here goes:
I agree with Matt that if you are starting from scratch your best bet is to focus on JavaScript in place of Python, Ruby, PHP.

It’s also going to be helpful to understand what exactly you will be doing when you build a ‘web’ company. There’s two skill sets here:

  1. Design of the web pages: what they look like, how users interact with them (buttons, menus, etc), the vast majority of which is built using HTML (for content) and CSS (for how it is formatted).
  2. Writing code that runs in response to user interaction, either on a server (this is where Python in Django, Ruby on Rails, or JavaScript in Node.js come in), or on your user’s computer (always javascript).

You don’t have choices for (1). It’s all HTML and CSS across the web. It’s the server code in (2) where you have the options you’ve mentioned, Python and Ruby, and the others that folks have suggested, like JavaScript and PHP.

If your web company will be running a lot of code on its servers (you can figure this out very quickly over coffee with any strong web developer you discuss your idea with), then you need to decide which of these languages to learn. If you only have code that runs on the client, you can learn only JavaScript and be just fine.

How do you decide which of the server languages to learn? If your objective with a new web company is to get to your minimum viable product ASAP,  then you want to write as little code as possible. With this goal in mind, you would plan out your application and what you want it to do, and look for libraries (open source code written by others that perform common tasks) for these languages that will reduce your development time, and in tandem, for people you know who understand the language who can help with your learning process.

Unless you find another language has a clear lead for your particular case, I am personally a strong advocate for throwing all your might at JavaScript. You will need this language anyway in order to write code on the client. If Node.js has modules that help with what you are trying to do, you can be up and running very quickly.

Using the information in that url, your browser identifies what you want and where to look for it and sends a request to the application’s server. This request is sent using a protocol called HTTP. A protocol just means that your browser and the server follow a set of rules when they talk to each other. HTTP is a particular set of rules.

When the server recieves the request your browser sent, it looks at it and decides what to send back to your browser. When you first visit a web application, this is almost always a HTML document. So the server returns a response to your browser, which contains HTML. HTML contains directions for your browser on what to display to the user. It also tells your browser the other things it will need to display the application correctly to the user. Primarily, CSS and JavaScript documents, but also images, fonts and many other things. The browser then makes more requests to get these other things, let’s call them assets. These requests for assets can be made to any number of different servers, and they take time! A good web application does it’s best to make this process efficient and undetectable to the user.

A link in a webpage is kinda like a shortcut to entering the url in your address bar, and most of the time when you enter in a url or click a link, this whole process is initiated again.

Which one did you find you understood best? Go with that one.

Those are the “Getting Started” pages for Laravel, Rails and Django, respectively.

Laravel is a PHP framework.
Ruby on Rails is a Ruby framework (unsurprisingly).
Django is a Python framework.

A framework is the application that runs your application. It gives you a set of tools that make building a web application easier. The exact definition of a framework depends on who you talk to, but they’re there to make your life easier.

Learn the language, then learn the framework you picked. It’s easy to use Google to find guides and tutorials for any of the above languages or frameworks.

I don’t recommend either Java or Javascript for back-end beginners. Java is a trickier language than the other four, and while it’s tempting to say node.js (JavaScript for the server) utilizes the skills you developed while learning front-end development, in practice I think node.js is less beginner-friendly than any of the 3 options above. But that’s my opinion, if you’d like to check it out anyway, the “Hello World” example for Express (the most popular node.js

I personally think Laravel has the best documentation for beginners, and a lot of community support. In my experience, the PHP community tends to be easy on beginners. You’ll find that many experienced developers don’t like PHP. But by the time you’re far enough along as a web developer to form opinions like that yourself, you should know more than one language.


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