Development 101: The Climb
The amount of information new developers have to learn is intimidating. Code schools like The Iron Yard (of which I am a happy graduate) can get you started in the right direction, but what if you’re going it alone?
First, a disclaimer: There is no one right answer. Everyone starts with different talents and loves a different part of development. Leverage the skills you already have and push yourself to be better in the areas that interest you most; the most important thing is not to burn out.
Set the Stage
Before you write a single line of code, there are a few tools and services you should play around with; you’re aiming for familiarity, not mastery.
- Git—and obviously GitHub
- Tackle the Command Line
- In-Browser Developer Tools—I like Chrome
Time to Code
- HTML and CSS
- Focus on Code Quality — missing semicolons will be back to haunt you
Delegate and Automate
- CSS Preprocessors like Sass and Less — because nesting!
- Process Automation with Gulp, Grunt, Rake, Make, etc.
- Client-side Templating — valuable, but this still scares me
Knowing what works (and what doesn’t) comes with experience, but even the best developers refactor their code to be cleaner, faster, and better.
- Testing—prevent future headaches by figuring out what could go wrong
- Debugging—because doing it right means breaking things
- Uncoupling and Modularity—sometimes code is like trying to find your way through a heap of spaghetti; break each task into smaller, re-usable pieces so that when things do go wrong, you can find out why