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Wandering Sensei
03-24-2005, 10:42 PM
I'm a technical/corporate writer who'd like to move more into web development. What background/software training would be best to learn first? I know some PageMaker and QuarkXpress but am no expert. I've studied HTML. I know most of the basic software.

Thanks.

mommie4a
03-24-2005, 11:24 PM
I posted some info on your other thread that asked about websites. Sounds like you have the initiative to learn on your own. The curve can be sharp but if you stick with it, I'm sure it's worth knowing and doing on your own, because you can make it look the way you want and update it when you want and save money!

Richard
03-25-2005, 05:05 AM
Learn how to use CSS to design your pages rather than HTML. It's very, very easy - especially if you haven't been poisoned by tables ;-)

You can get started here: http://www.w3schools.com/css/default.asp

Wandering Sensei
03-25-2005, 09:55 AM
I posted some info on your other thread that asked about websites. Sounds like you have the initiative to learn on your own. The curve can be sharp but if you stick with it, I'm sure it's worth knowing and doing on your own, because you can make it look the way you want and update it when you want and save money!

After banging my head against rocket science and quantum physics in college, ain't nuthin' I can't learn.:Lecture:

And Richard, thanks for the CSS links.

Frumious B
03-26-2005, 02:30 PM
A great way to get into web dev is to create a site for a Not For Profit organisation. Find one that matches your politics, offer to design/redesign their site and away you go. From your prior experience as a tech writer, you will know how to get the content from the SMEs (like getting blood from a stone innit?) and once you have the content, you can design away!

This is how I got my first experience with web dev. Until I realised I was completely crap at it. At least I had tech writing to fall back on. Phew.

The W3 site posted earlier is a fantastic resource. Hit the top level to get to some great tutorials and info (http://www.w3schools.com/)

Cheers

The Geek
04-01-2005, 01:18 AM
Sensei, I would strongly encourage you to look at leaning php. From my experience, it's the best coding language out there for web development. Very powerful and flexible. If I had the initiative, it's what I would learn.

Moondancer
04-02-2005, 05:46 PM
CSS won't be terribly hard to learn.

If you think you need an HTML editor, I would have to recommend Dreamweaver hands down. It's worth the cost because it provides support .css, .php, and .asp among others. I have heard good things about the latest version of Frontpage but I haven't tried it.

If you want to get into the graphical side of it but not heavily I'd recommend Jasc Paint Shop Pro. It does a very good job on basic graphics and effects. If you expect to be heavily involved in graphics, you might want to consider Adobe Photoshop because it is the most powerful and has a lot of features that Jasc won't have. But expensive in comparison. You can get a copy of Jasc for around $99. Adobe is over $300.

I have to echo The Geek. Php has made my life easier in a lot of ways. If you feel like diving into it later, you can always start with some ready made scripts, such as this board we are using now. There are a lot of smaller (and larger) scripts as well.

Richard
04-02-2005, 05:48 PM
Alternatively, Photoshop Elements 3 basically has all the features that you'll need for web work. Yes, I know it's missing a ton that make the full thing so worthwhile, but it's staggeringly good for most purposes and has the advantage of being a good introduction to Photoshop Proper as well.

Medievalist
04-06-2005, 05:12 AM
Frontpage is the doorway to The Dark Side. It produces non-standard HTML, and it's bulky.

Avoid it. CSS is easy to learn, and there are lots of good sites online. I'm fond of the PeachPit Visual QuickStart Guide by Castro. CSS will make your life easier.

Humourwriter
04-06-2005, 02:05 PM
As well as learning the 'hows' of web design (and I pretty much agree with everything so far -- can't wait for a chance to redo my own site with CSS), you should also learn the 'whys' of web design.

After all, you can design a web site that's coded so it looks the same on every browser, but still a) looks awful and b) doesn't do the job.

So I recommend reading something like "Web pages that suck" (or at least head on over to the site). Another good book is "Don't make me think" by Steve Krug.

Bill.

SumthinInnocuous
12-07-2006, 02:56 PM
I didn't see anyone mention knowing something about the Software Development Lifecycle. That will be as valuable as learning about current technologies and tools.

maestrowork
12-07-2006, 05:29 PM
I've been dabbled in web development since the heydays in the mid-90s, then became full-time professional in 1998. Things you'll need to learn: Graphics software like Photoshop. Web development tools like Dreamweaver. Motion graphics tools such as Flash. Knowing HTML and CSS would be very helpful. But these are basic skills. You need to learn good web designs concepts and human interfaces. SDLC is only relevant when you're on a project.

That's just the design side of it. You'll also need to learn coding if you want to do something like eBusiness. Java. Javascript. Flash. Web services, etc. That's where the money is. However, if you're only interested in the content side (as a writer), there are other venues as well, such as web-based content management.

JulieB
12-08-2006, 05:52 AM
Pardon me while I rattle my cane. When I got started, HTML was still in version 1.0 and all we had was Notepad and SimpeText. (Stone knives and bear skins, for anyone who may get the reference.)

Things have come a long way since then. I suggest that you try to keep up with the various web technologies as much as you can. You may not need to know all of the ins and outs, but I guarantee you that at some point a client is going to want all of the bleeding edge stuff. You either want to be able to talk them out of it in a logical ("here's why your customers will hate it") manner, or have enough knowledge that you can get up to speed on the technology quickly.

Open source is your friend, but don't discount other technolgies. I've done quite well with Active Server Pages sites, too.

And I'm with Humourwriter - Web Pages That Suck is great. You can learn what works by viewing what doesn't - and with a dose of humor. How can you argue with that?

RichHelms
02-12-2007, 06:33 AM
Depending on the scope of the website, tools to write can range from simple HTML to complex sites with a database and a scripting language such as PHP or ASP.

I do many of my simple sites in WordPress. While WordPress is blogging software, it is possible to create elaborate sites in just WordPress.

My personal site is in WordPress and has links to other sites I did in WordPress.

justpat
05-18-2007, 02:23 AM
A great WYSIWYG development tool is Adobe (formerly Macromedia) 'Dreamweaver', but it isn't cheap. Around $200 I think? Probably the most recommended if you ask a pro.

But if you use any of the WYSIWYG tools, you still need a good understanding of html because you will also have to jump into code view and tweak things here and there.

PHP if you need server side scripting or database connectivity (php.net).
MYSQL for the database (mysql.com)

PHP and MySQL are both open source (and free).

If you want to use them, find a host provider that supports them already. If you want to install your own, a pre-configured and easy to install package can be found at http://www.wampserver.com/en/index.php

CSS is great, but you have to be very careful with it. Its still relatively new and so many different browsers will display it differently or not at all. Internet Explorer will especially break a lot of CSS code.

Graphics are also important. Macromedia makes a package for that, its called 'Fireworks' and you can buy it bundled with 'Dreamweaver'.

Hmm, sounds like I work for Macromedia, but I don't. I just appreciate their tools.

-Pat

atthebeach
05-18-2007, 09:03 AM
Just FYI, I bought the Dreamweaver package with Fireworks, etc. (Studio 8), Adobe PhotoShop and Elements, all at a student discount and saved a ton of money.

I am in grad school and spending the big bucks for it, but if you are not already enrolled somewhere, if you can find a class at a community college that is relatively cheap (and something interesting to take), you can get a student discount. I can purchase software and products directly at my university, but you can also get them online. I got FrontPage for something like $8 (but never use it anymore), and the others were hundreds off. They are usually "student versions", but I have not noticed any lacking features to date...

inkslinger
05-21-2007, 04:33 AM
Please note, however, that the license agreement for Macromedia's student rate products stipulates that the user is only allowed to use the software for school-related projects. If you're using your student version to produce commercial products, you're in violation of your license. Just FYI.

formlit
05-21-2007, 04:50 AM
PHP is great and if you are going to do web design in any serious way, you need to know it. Someone mentioned Dreamweaver and Flash and Photoshop. All are good, but all are expensive, so if you were going for a package, get Macromedia Studio. It is about the same price as Photoshop (actually, I think it is cheaper. not sure.) and comes with Dreamweaver, Flash, Fireworks and a lot of other stuff, so you can do image editing, coding and animations and everything else you need. Fireworks isn't as good as Photoshop for image editing and there aren't all that many brushes you can download for it, but it is still pretty good.

scottVee
05-24-2007, 01:47 AM
I have to agree with formlit. All the fancy tools listed are good for only one thing - starting a site. They're handy for creating the graphical look of a site. But if you want it to actually DO anything, at some point you will be writing code.

I've been doing websites professionally for 12 years or so, from small filmmaker sites to registration pages for local universities ... and I've never needed Dreamweaver or any of that junk. Watch out for products (like Pagemaker or Word) which were originally designed for one thing and now can save HTML just because everyone else is doing it -- they tend to create really bad, bloated HTML code. An Microsoft products output code that only cares about working in Microsoft's browser (IE) ... get the picture?

I just use a text editor, because that's all you need. HTML is just text. If a site is so complex and full of graphics that you need a graphical editor, odds are it's a heavy design that needs to be streamlined. Fancy tools make it easy to throw stuff on a page, with no consideration for whether anyone can comfortably view the results. It's not unusual to end up with 40 or 50 graphics on a page, where maybe 3 are really needed. Please learn design and usability skills along the way.

Some tools even insert their own little tags, product names, and other junk into your page without telling you. FrontPage creates a horde of weird folders on your server; other tools insert maintenance files on your server without asking first. I don't know why they think that's appropriate. Bottom line: you have no idea what the tools are actually doing.

Don't be one of those developers who throws something together in FrontPage (or whatever) and then completely chokes when it comes time to change something because they have no idea how the web actually works. Learn how the web works (HTML, CSS, PHP, Javascript) instead. Then decide on a tool, and you'll be ahead of all the people who can only drag and drop and click on things and hope it works.

Best wishes on your explorations...

veinglory
05-24-2007, 01:57 AM
If you are looking into doing this professionally I would agree you need to stay far far away from Dreamweaver. The code is nasty, very nasty. It's okay if you just want to put up something for yourself without having to do a lot of training.

I would suggest any program that will display split source--showing the page and the code side by side. For this, and direct access to the css, I find GoLive (Adobe) useful.

I am only an amateur doing my own site but I wouldn't take a pro seriously if they didn't have the ability to do a whole site using nothing by notepad if they had to. Pagebuilders are great for doing things faster and easier but a website designer, IMHO, needs to be a master of the code ;)

pconsidine
05-24-2007, 01:58 AM
I'd say that it's worth investigating to find out exactly what it is that attracts you to web development. Now that it's a mature industry, there are an awful lot of subordinate processes to what we call "web development." There are the interface designers, the middleware programmers, the database admins (because everything simply must run off a database now), and a whole host of other people involved in producing high-end web sites.

Granted, the majority of the web is nothing like that and can probably still be done well with BBEdit and some elbow grease, but it's always good to get a sense of where you want to wind up in the overall landscape when moving into a new field.

I worked for about a year as a web project manager and that's what I got out of it, anyway.

justpat
05-24-2007, 02:52 AM
I would suggest any program that will display split source--showing the page and the code side by side. For this, and direct access to the css, I find GoLive (Adobe) useful.

I am only an amateur doing my own site but I wouldn't take a pro seriously if they didn't have the ability to do a whole site using nothing by notepad if they had to. Pagebuilders are great for doing things faster and easier but a website designer, IMHO, needs to be a master of the code ;)

Dreamweaver does show code and design windows in a split screen. But you're right about one thing, you can't depend on it to do everything for you. When I use Dreamweaver, I spend at least 60% of my time in the code window punching it out manually, or tweaking the Dreamweaver generated code. But for laying out a quick starting point, it can't be beat.

veinglory
05-24-2007, 03:28 AM
Except by a program that does the same and generates good code most of the time?

justpat
05-24-2007, 03:35 AM
Except by a program that does the same and generates good code most of the time?

If you know one of those, let me know. But the real problem isn't that the code is faulty, its just that its not exactly what I need.

formlit
05-24-2007, 04:11 AM
If you know one of those, let me know. But the real problem isn't that the code is faulty, its just that its not exactly what I need.

gotta agree. that is why i end up in the coding part of dreamweaver so often.