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The best way to practice as a web developer

to practice as a web developer

I do not pretend to reveal to you today the secret to becoming a successful web developer. But I can show you the right way to become one.
di Antonio Lamorgese

I don’t pretend to reveal to you today the secret of how to practice as a web developer and turn this passion into a successful profession. But my great passion for programming and for computer science in general, have led me over the years to study various programming languages and techniques, for the resolution of problems that gradually arose, during the development of even complex software. Therefore, I think that the experience I have acquired over the years has led me to reflect a lot on what the path has been, which has led me to be a professional developer. Consequently, I came to the conclusion that, to be a good web developer, and of software in general, it is necessary to have an excellent knowledge of what are the techniques that have developed up to now, around programming and, which will develop in the future.

Therefore it is essential that a developer pays close attention to new technologies and that continuous updating in this sector is essential.

First of all, it is necessary to understand if you are at the beginning of the path and with what kind of skill you are approaching this world.

Suppose you have the qualities and basic knowledge necessary to start a path, which we will see together in the course of this article, aimed at giving you the ideas and useful tools to start this wonderful journey into the world of programming, practicing right away.

1. The tools you need

1.1 The computer

Since this path is very practice-oriented, which a developer must take, we must first focus on the necessary tools that must be available.

So strange as it may seem to you, we need to talk about the raw material, and therefore the type of computer.

If you are able to spend a little more, I highly recommend a MAC, otherwise a PC would be just fine.

MAC is recommended because it is the system with which you can do a bit of everything, having many software ready for use.

While with Windows and Linux, you may need software to install and not easy to find, especially when it comes to graphics.

1.2 The text editor

Once we have found the computer, let’s move on to another tool, no less important, I am talking about the text editor.

Nowadays, there are many, both paid and free, but my favorite is Visual Studio Code.

It is a free editor, offered by Microsoft, and very popular among professional developers.

Download and install this editor on your computer right now, following this video carefully.

Visual Studio Code Tutorial for Beginners - Introduction
Install Visual Studio Code

1.3 The web server

Who knows how many times you’ve heard of web servers. Well it is undoubtedly the most important tool for a developer, even here I would opt for a free but efficient web server.

XAMPP seems to me an excellent compromise, click here to see how to install XAMPP on Windows, and navigate to this link to follow the installation steps on MAC.

XAMPP allows you to have a professional WEB Server at home for free, ie without the need to purchase a space and a web domain. It is a package that includes Apache, Mysql, Php, Perl, PhpMyadmin and other software.

These components are used for the development of web projects of any kind, from cms to personal projects in php. Suitable for practicing even if you are a beginner.

Start the web server

Once XAMPP is installed, to start it you need to access the xammp folder in my computer, and execute by double clicking on the control-xampp.exe file.

The server icon appears on the taskbar. By clicking with the right mouse button you can access the administrative window for the quick configuration of all the modules present in Xampp.

In any case, it is advisable to remember that to execute php commands, unlike what is done with windows executables or other operating systems, all php scripts or any web page, can be run only by typing relative path to the script on the file server, usually found under the xampp htdocs folder.

So in this case the path will be roughly:

http://localhost: 8080/YourDirectoryInHtdocs/ScriptName.php

This is easier than expected. In this video you will be able to practically see how to start the XAMPP web server and run a first web page in php.

How to run first PHP program in XAMPP Server
Start first program in PHP with XAMPP

2. How a web page works

Before getting acquainted with programming languages, which will give life to our ideas, let’s try to understand how a web page works.

First of all, a web page is the fundamental unit of a website, that is, a website is made up of a certain number of web pages, which interact with each other.

The main page of a website is called the Homepage and it is from this page that users are able to reach all the other pages of the website. The homepage is the home page of your website.

Usually it is a file that has an html extension, I usually said because, when a web page has an html extension it is executed directly by the browser and is absolutely not interpreted by the web server, which in the case of XAMPP, only interprets web pages with the php extension.

A web page with a php extension does not differ much from one with an html extension, except for the presence of some tags that make the web server understand, in the case of XAMPP it is Apache, that the commands present between these two tags must be interpreted by the server web, are usually php commands and functions.

A web page, with the php extension, in this case, is a page that, unlike the one with the html extension, is dynamic, i.e. it changes based on the execution of commands, contained within it, and which, processed by the server, return from time to time time different content.

A typical html web page is this:

      <title>my first web page</title>
      <h1>hi I'm a static web page</h1>

The tags inside it are tags that are processed only and exclusively by the browser.

A typical php web page is this:

      <title>my first web page</title>
      <h1> hi I'm a static web page</h1>
           echo 'hi I'm a dinamic web page';

The tags inside it are tags that are processed exclusively by Apache web servers and subsequently sent to the browser. Note that all the php commands, one of the most popular web programming languages, are always inserted within these two tags: <?php ……. ?>.

3. Let’s move on to the practical phase, let’s try our first php scripts

Almost all the books I have read on programming explain and treat the subject by putting into practice, through the writing of a software, the topics covered in the book.

So, putting programming concepts into practice is certainly the best way to practice as a web developer.

Therefore, get a book and try by verifying in real time all the code proposed in the book. Try all the commands, the constructs, perhaps even customizing the parameters of the various functions.

You now have two ways to do this:

1- Start the web server, create a folder under htdocs and then an index.php file in this folder. At this point, type the code to be tested in this file, open the browser and go to this address: http://localhost:8080/YourDirectoryInHtdocs/index.php

2- Open your browser, go to the portal and welcome to the fantastic world of online language interpreters.

A free online interpreter of php and other languages

If you just want to get familiar with the php language, you have the possibility to execute commands, by going to this address, related to the portal and

Select the various language commands from the left frame and modify the script proposed within an area dedicated to programming these commands and run them.

This method allows you to practice php, without the aid of a local web server, but having only the internet connection available.

Also on you can find many online interpreters at this address, you can find the online interpreter of C #, another server-side language such as php, widely used in the .NET environment for writing web code but not only.

You can consider C # a clone of Java, therefore, becoming familiar with this language helps you to study and learn Java quickly too.

On this portal you are spoiled for choice, you can choose almost all the languages ​​that exist today, select the command, run the proposed script and possibly modify it, sending it back to execution later.

4. Conclusion

In any case, despite having seen in this article, what are the tools to adopt to practice, never neglect to keep yourself updated, buying books or attending courses.

Keep in mind that besides php and c #, there are other programming languages ​​no less interesting than these. So, for example, if web programming appeals to you the most, you cannot fail to take into consideration that there is another language you need to know, to create interactive web pages.

This language does not need alternative servers or tools to be installed on the computer to run, but it only needs a web browser, I’m talking about Javascript.

At this address, you can find an online interpreter, identical to the one seen for the other two server-side languages, which will allow you to familiarize yourself with this fundamental client-side language.

A professional web programmer knows at least one server-side language (e.g. php), a client-side language (e.g. javascript), as well as css, the famous style sheets, which allows you to manipulate the attributes of the various html tags present. on every web page.

Antonio Lamorgese
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