Web Developers aren’t really true programmers.

Remember the old days, the mid 1990’s when Visual Basic (pre .net) and Front-Page were the tools of the web developer?   It wasn’t long after they were doing “shadow-IT” developing Clipper and Dbase programs that you ultimately ended up supporting or converting to PowerBuilder.   If you are pressed for time browse on down to the bottom where I recommend Lynda.com for a GREAT training value for the dollar.

Also don’t miss the two email replies from two other trainers (bottom of article).  You’ll be shocked at the differences in the two!

Now the TRUTH:   Web Developers are exceptionally talented, and Web Development is NOT easy.

But, before we get serious I made a jingle and am curious how many people can figure what the attempt at humor was here.   Hint: it’s to the tune of a “weird” song from back in the Dbase and Visual Basic days.

Web people got   PowerBuilder and Silverlight Reviews
No reason to…
Web people got
No reason to read

They use little toolsPowerBuilder and Silverlight Reviews
instead of real IDE’s
Make browser based tricks
and loosely typed scripts

Web people got      
No reason to read


Please tell if you were able to make sense of this jingle.

Hints:  The jingle is in tune with a novelty song from the ’70’s in which there was legislation introduced in the state of Maryland to make it illegal to play on the radio.  Written by Randy Newman

[polldaddy poll=4250918]

Answer:  Short People by Randy Newman

Why are Web Developers exceptionally talented?

It isn’t unusual for a web developer to be proficient in ten different programming languages and/or technologies.

Since I know the Microsoft way better than the Java, this list reflects the MS developer.

  1. HTML, DOM  – no web developer can exist without a core understanding of HTML and the DOM (Document Object Model)
  2. CSS – not optional to web developer and useless without knowledge of HTML, plus rapidly changing standards to keep up with.
  3. Javascript – pretty much required and when using it you will likely need to know HTML, CSS and the DOM.
  4. Javascript Frameworks – the progression from using JavaScript is a Framework to simplify life so once you finally figure JavaScript out you need to learn specifics of a JS Framework, and they not usually all different and having multiple levels of maturity/size!  Most web developers know SEVERAL JavaScript frameworks at minimum most have probably used jQuery.  Some common examples are jQuery, Knockout, Dojo, MooTools, YUI, Ext JS, Sammy (creative names, huh?)
  5. XAML, XML – Not rocket science but part of the web developer arsenal of knowledge.
  6. AJAX – required for most robust sites with user friendly user interface. Ajax is challenging to learn, debug and troubleshoot and guess what, you need to be proficient in just about every technology mentioned above. If you are weak in HTML, or DOM then good luck being productive with AJAX. Are you starting to see a pattern here?
  7. WCF, Web Services – Web services are yet another tool known by many web developers and it isn’t overly easy to learn because the technology changes so quickly that by the time you learn the new standard, it has become obsolete. I think Microsoft must get a kick out of forcing web developers to study new and emerging technologies until midnight just to stay competitive in the web development arena.
  8. IIS, Apache, Glassfish – Our old client-server apps ran on Windows which we already were experts on now we need to know which web server and/or application server everything is running on. Have you ever set up an Apache web server before?  If you have they you will have gained a whole new level of respect for Web Developers today and understand why they have thinning or grey hair.
  9. .NET Framework – Most Microsoft web developers are proficient in at least one of the .NET languages (C#, VB, F#, many others) and the core functionality of the .NET Framework.
  10. ORM’s (Entity Framework, nHibernate, Linq) – Most web developers of data driven applications are well versed in some form of Object Repository Model and/or more advanced concepts or patterns such IoC (Inversion of Control) and DI (Dependency Injection) used in Castle Project.  Becoming an expert in this area is no part-time job and separates serious application designers from beginner web developers.
  11. MVVM, MVC – Design Philosophies are yet another aspect of the web developer skill-set, and like everything else surrounding Web Development there are too many choices and not enough consistency making learning just one a daunting task.  Model-View-ViewModel is a way of creating client applications that leverage core features of the WPF platform. The Model-View-Controller (MVC) architectural pattern separates an application into three main components: the model, the view, and the controller.
  12. ASP.NET, PHP, Silverlight, Java, Web Forms – Yet another ingredient in the Web Development pie is deciding which core development technology you will use, or if you will stick with a simple no frills HTML only site. Each has adavantages and disadvantages and an experience Web Developer can find their way around all of them but most likely specialized in one or two.
  13. IE, Firefox, Safari, Chrome – Oh my so many choices and there are so many inconsistencies.  Will your site support IE only, or all mainstream browsers?
  14. Responsive Website Design – If coding for all the browsers wasn’t enough to scare you away don’t forget that there are literally hundreds of combinations of screen-size, screen resolution, and number of colors displayed and a good website developer understands Responsive Website Design, yet another thing to learn that will adjust the way a web application looks and functions depending on the screen resolution or size of the screen (i.e. smart-phone, tablet, monitor).

Granted each one isn’t a full-blown language to learn but some of them are and they all need to work together.

Learning web development humbled me for sure.  A good training plan is essential to keeping up with all the latest technologies.

On-Demand Video Training for Web Development

There are several good options available for learning these technologies, some free and some not.

Free Video Training for Silverlight

I tend to enjoy the Microsoft sponsored sites as they are second to none when it comes to documentation.  Silverlight.net is an amazing starting point for learning Silverlight.  The MSDN is also an invaluable resource.

Free Video Training for ASP.NET & AJAX

My favorite is Channel9 (msdn.channel9.com), they have video training, tutorials, samples and tons of great learning material.  Also ASP.net is another outstanding resource with a dedicated section for many technologies such as AJAX, MVC, and Web Forms.

Free Training for C#.Net and Visual Studio 2010

A good free resource is the C-Sharpcorner but it isn’t in the same league as ASP.net or Channel9.

Free Video courses for Javascript, HTML, XMS & CSS

You can’t go wrong with W3schools.com, it covers most of the “rendering” technologies however it consists of mostly tutorials, reference and demos where you can modify some code and observe the changes in real time.

Paid Video Courses covering all the programming languages and technologies

I am a subscriber of Lynda.com and use the service almost every day.  I not only like to take courses from top-to-bottom, but I like referring back to them when coding.  If I find myself struggling with creating a hierarchal design template for a treeview in Silverlight, I’ll head over to Lynda.com and find a chapter covering it.  Lynda’s videos are professional quality, and are interesting and thought provoking.  Lynda has a huge variety of videos.  The only complaint I have is that the amount of brand new content (VS 2010) is more limited than I’d like, but for the price of Lynda.com you really can’t go wrong.  You will get your money’s worth MANY times over.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am an affiliate of Lynda.com, but I stand by every word I said about them.  I pay the normal price for the course, no discounts.   Their cost is one of he lowest that I could find and the quality is one of the best.  If you do sign up for Lynda, please use the affiliate link on the right side of my blog, you won’t pay a cent more than if you went directly to their site, the only difference is that I will get a small token of appreciation from Lynda for referring you, and I’m able to offer you a 24 hour free pass.  If you do choose Lynda  via my referral, I thank you in advance, it is very much appreciated and will help me out a lot.

Paid Courses I could not Review

I wanted to review LearnDevNow and AppDev because I couldn’t afford either of their prices.  I emailed each about possible trade options (advertising for course time) or limited time access so I could review the courses for my readers here, or affiliate programs in the case that I found their courses better than my current favorite online training (Lynda).  The two responses are night and day difference.   The second, was exactly what I’d expect from a sales department that values customers.

My father was a business owner so I have become a stickler for expecting to be treated like a “customer” should.

So, here are the exact responses from each of the two companies;

Which one would you rather do business with?

1. LearnDevNow    OR

From: Craig Jensen [LearnNow] [mailto:craigj@learnnowllc.com]
Sent: Friday, December 10, 2010 8:38 AM
To: ‘SusanL [LearnNow]’; rich@otownpc.com
Subject: RE: Introduction & Question about your Courses

Thanks for your interest in LearnDevNow.com .

We do not have an affiliate or a reseller program and do not intend to implement this in the future.



2. AppDev.ComIf Miranda’s boss is watching, he/she should know that Miranda is a class-act salesperson.  Not only was Miranda professional and compassionate, she also made at least a half a dozen attempts to call me and talk in person.   I haven’t reviewed AppDev, however I give them two thumbs up for being *the* most professional of the bunch by a long-shot.

From: Miranda Rasmussen [mailto:MirandaR@appdev.com]
Sent: Friday, December 10, 2010 10:21 AM
To: rich@otownpc.com
Subject: RE: AppDev – I’ve been trying to reach you

Hi Rich,

Thank you for the follow up. Sounds like you are in a tough spot and hopefully, when things turn around, AppDev can be a resource to you! DO NOT feel bad for screening my calls – I am a new mom and am also really feeling increased financial pressure…

In the meantime, please feel free to use our free demo site to help you get familiar with developer toolsets like Visual Studio & SharePoint. If you are looking to break into a new technology – I would recommend you to do either SharePoint development or Java. Both technologies are in high demand and are pretty ‘niche’ in where they fit in. I know that retooling yourself is hard and scary but help is out there!

If you have questions about what our training can do to help you out along your way, please consider me to be your consultant. I work with many individuals that have similar challenges (some even more so!) so reach out to me anytime for guidance or if you have questions about technology trends going forward.

Please keep in touch, and happy holidays!

Miranda Rasmussen




If you are learning web development, I hope that you are not being too hard on yourself for picking everything up immediately and you are able to use some of the free resources I pointed out.  And if you are already a seasoned web developer then I sincerely apologize for my completely inaccurate assumptions (from long ago…) that web programming is easy stuff.   Web programming is about as easy as learning a dozen new languages at once.


Rich (aka DisplacedGuy)

6 Responses

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