6 tools, YOU, as a web developer, must TAME
When you are struck with an idea, don’t just wait for Christmas to give it a kick start. Because, by then someone would have already converted your idea into a “million dollar” enterprise or set the bars so high that you can do nothing but be daunted. Absolutely no pun intended.
I am making this entry in my blog to point out major tools essential for developing not only websites/web apps ranging from a single static page to a community based web site (e.g. Facebook, MySpace) but also designing the so called phat graphics.
In the list of essential web developers tools, first position is given to HTML. Many neophyte have an opinion about HTML, that it is very simple and dull and requires no brain. Let me tell you one thing my friend, if you really think HTML is that simple and dry then either you have mastered HTML exhaustively and desperately need to brag about it or you are just one of many who just after learning some tags get euphoric. Honestly, I used to come in the second category, fortunately not for long. After exploring HTML thoroughly and exploiting its offering I realized its true worth. For instance, iframes, object, frameset, are features which not only makes HTML suave but also endow designers with great control over layout and aides in dynamic generation of content. If you have been neglecting HTML and abusing WYSIWYG(what you see is what you get e.g. Adobe Dreamweaver, Frontpage, Expressions) editors till now, you can start off with best online tutorials at W3Schools. And once you think you have realized true potential of HTML you can go back to Dreamweaver, as typing tags seems routine when you get into developing real projects. What’s the take away here? Having thorough knowledge of HTML will leave you empowered with all the features which it has at its disposal, so, when you know you can implement something with adding a simple HTML tag why bother with relatively complex alternatives.
You have added the content using HTML, now the question is how are you going to make it appealing so that your visitors don’t find you website vapid and have no idea where to click? This is where CSS comes to play. Hence I rank it second in the list of essential tools for web Developers. CSS has revolutionized the way websites are designed. It allows room for HTML to breathe and accommodate data with ease by outsourcing the styling factors to an external file or simply a separate portion of the code. All browsers support CSS and it is simple to learn. It not only makes a site look attractive, it also allows smooth animations, which, once was possible only with Flash.
Now, you have made your site interactive and you need people to be able to send you some information about them. For instance, you want your friends to be able to comment on the photographs which you have taken. In order to be able to accommodate such a functionality you need to have firm grasp over “server-side” scripting language such as PHP, JSP, ASP, etc. And finally to be able to store those comments you need to employ some sort of storage. When it comes to storage, you are entering a domain called Database Management System(DBMS). Of course, you are not expected to know all the features and implementation of DBMS thoroughly, but you should be able to implement basic functions using queries to insert, update, delete, and modify. Oracle, MySQL and PostgreSQL databases are popular ones, to name a few. I prefer using MySQL for two reasons, it’s simple and cheapest. Almost all hosting sites provide MySQL at very cheap price. So, if you have some clients and you want to do classic job at reasonable price MySQL is you should turn to. Hence, PHP and MySQL are fourth and fifth, respectively, in the essential tools.
Last on the list is Photoshop at number six. Actually, I am being unfair by placing it this low. Because, Photoshop is the ultimate tool which can expedite any electronic work. Be it designing a logo for a MNC or developing a template for a CMS, or what not. It is a panacea for photographers and those who end up with bad pictures due to poor light. Whether you are a freelancer or a professional photographer working for a fashion house, Adobe Photoshop plays an essential role in your work. Therefore, if you still haven’t befriended it, don’t wait till next Christmas. For, of you do, you are only depriving yourself of the fruits it offers.
Saurav Kumar, www.sauravkumar.com