Friday, October 03, 2003

Tools of the Trade - Web Development

I have received a few emails expressing interest in what tools I use for work. Since my workflow and interests takes me in many directions, I use many tools for different purposes and my arsenal is similar to a swiss army knife. With that in mind I have decided to outline a small bit of what I do and the tools I use over a few posts.

For web development I started out with Frontpage a few years ago. If you have never created a webpage before this can get you started quickly. FP was simple and quick to use, I had a copy that came with a software bundle we purchased and one evening decided that I wanted to do some site development (having never done html coding before this). Ten minutes later I had a webpage published, the tools were very user friendly for a first timer.

When I started getting a bit more serious, there were some tools that I wanted in a WYSIWYG editor that were not available in FP, so I did some research and kept coming back to Dreamweaver. This seemed to be a good fit to work natively with the other programs I was using. The initial crossover took about 2 weeks of part time web development to get comfortable and understand the tools. At that time I liked using frames for sites and this was handled differently between the two programs, after another week and I cut the cord and stopped using both programs to finish my work.

I am still using DW and plan to continue as the additional tools and plug-ins have worked well for me. For those involved in or wanting to do webwork I would also recommend a scripting language as these tools become invaluable to accomplish tasks that html just cannot handle natively. There are many languages to choose from (javascript, VBScript, python, perl and many, many more) as well as free code that other users post to help you get started.

For those getting started in web development, html editors and programming languages come in many ranges, from free to costly. The key to choosing the right one is research. Without researching what is available and talking with those who use the products you are taking a large chance that you may not make the best choice for yourself.

Tip of the day: If you are looking to get employment from a particular company or in a certain sector of work, one of the best things you can do is find out what tools they use for production. This will ensure that what you learn is compatible with their workflow and keep in mind that it may take sometime to learn and master the skills needed before applying for that job, but making the right choice early on will get you their quicker.

Happy Rendering...

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