Tech

What Is Web Development?

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Internet Technology has changed and influenced a lot if not all activities we engage in. It is a broad concept that has lots of fields under it, with Web Development being amongst the popular ones.

 What Is Web Development?

Web development is a term which involves building, developing, and maintaining websites. It consists of developing simple websites, internet applications (commonly referred to as web apps), and social network services.

Some activities involved include web design, web engineering, client-side/server-side scripting, e-commerce development, and network security configuration.

Amongst developers, web development is referred to as building the non-visual aspect of a website, which makes a website appealing, work fast, and have a pleasant User Experience.

How Are Websites Developed?

Websites can be created in several ways. Some professionals build webpages with tools such as code editors, while others use Content Management Systems (CMS) such as WordPress, Drupal or Joomla. The choice of tools made by web developers depends on the requirements needed to fulfil a website’s functionality.

Web Development Types

In web development, there are three popular paths developers/beginners take. They include:

a. Front End Web Development

Front End Development involves building the components of a website that users or visitors will interact with. Depending on the website, such components may include layouts, navigation menus, dropdowns, fonts & colours.

Professionals involved in this path are front-end developers. Depending on the complexity of the website/web app to be built, they work alongside User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) Designers to bring prototypes/wireframes, from conception to production/it’s live state.

Core languages front end developers use to achieve this include:

1. HTML

HTML is an acronym for HyperText Markup Language. It is the standard markup web documents/pages. They describe the structure of a webpage that is to be interpreted by a web browser. The current stable version is HTML5

2. CSS

An acronym for Cascading Style Sheets, CSS is used in the styling/presentation of HTML documents and is designed to separate presentation and content. This improves content accessibility and visual control of elements

3. JavaScript

JavaScript is a programming language used to add interactivity to webpages. It is wrongly associated with Java due to similarity in their spelling, do note that they are two distinct languages. For a detailed description of their differences, do read this article.

Note that these three languages are basic requirements to build websites. To make, improve, or add extra functionalities to websites/apps, other tools/technologies are utilised. Popular ones include:

Bootstrap

Developed by Mark Otto and Jacob Thornton at Twitter, Bootstrap is a free CSS framework used by front end developers to easily build responsive web layouts. This framework contains customisable design elements including buttons, forms, and cards.

ReactJS

Now, this might be the most popular tool in the web development industry. Developed and maintained by engineers at Facebook, and also a community of individual developers, ReactJS is a JavaScript library for building UI components

VueJS

Vue is also a very popular JavaScript framework. Created by Evan You, it is used in building User Interfaces. It is considered to be easier to learn than ReactJS. In real-life situations, these frameworks are selected based on the requirements and complexity of a web app.

b. Back End Web Development

The back end development path involves building and maintaining servers, applications, and databases that power a website/web app. Professionals in the path are known as back end developers. They are specialised in languages used to communicate between the servers, applications, and databases. Popular languages used to achieve these include:

1. Python

It is one of the most popular programming languages on earth. Created in 1991 by a Dutch programmer known as Guido Van Rossum, it emphasises on code readability and helps programmers to write clear logical code for small and large-scale projects

2. SQL

It is an acronym for Structured Query Language. It is used to access and manipulate data held in databases

3. Ruby

Ruby is a programming language focused on simplicity and productivity. It boasts of an elegant syntax that’s clear and easy to write

4. PHP

PHP is an acronym for HyperText Preprocessor. It is a general-purpose scripting language and is fast and flexible. It powers WordPress, which is the most popular CMS in the world.

Just like the front end development path, the above languages are basic requirements to power the logic and functionalities that power a website/web app. Popular back end frameworks include:

Django

Django is a Python-based framework created to ease the creation of complex database-driven web apps. It centres around less code and reusability of components. Some popular sites that implement Django include Instagram, The Washington Times, and Mozilla

Ruby on Rails

Ruby on Rails, commonly referred to as just Rails, is a Ruby-based server-side web application framework. It facilitates the use of JSON and XML for the transfer of data. It helps back end developers to accomplish a lot of tasks/functionalities with less code

Laravel

Laravel is a free back end framework based on PHP. It boasts of an expressive and elegant syntax. Its popular features include a modular packaging system and multiple ways for accessing multiple relational databases

c. Full Stack Web Development

Full-stack development is the combination of front end development and back end development tasks. Professionals who perform both tasks are known as full-stack developers. Most of them are assumed to have spent a lot of years working on either path and find both paths appealing. They mostly serve as consultants in the industry.

For a well-detailed article on the three paths, here’s one written by the Udacity team.

What Field Should I Start With?

This question is frequently asked amongst people who intend starting. Unfortunately, not getting adequate advice on it has discouraged a lot. A simple rule of thumb to follow is this?

  • If you find the concept of building beautiful interfaces, you should consider looking into the front end development path
  • Love writing code? or logic? Or don’t find design interesting? You might consider taking the back end development path
  • If you like both and find yourself to be a jack of all trades, pursuing a full-stack path wouldn’t hurt

Remember, if you take one and don’t find it satisfying, you can easily switch to another.

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Joseph David is a FrontEnd Developer and Technical Writer
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