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
  • “Vanilla” JavaScript
  • Focus on Code Quality — missing semicolons will be back to haunt you

Delegate and Automate

If you’re starting to feel comfortable with vanilla JavaScript, it’s time to kick it up a notch. Coding gets WAY better when you automate and delegate the more tedious tasks and focus on the fun stuff—and auto-refresh is GREAT.

  • 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

Continual Improvement

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
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