If you’ve decided to focus on becoming a front end, as opposed to a back end developer, your choice of languages to work with narrows significantly.

Related Post: Understanding The Difference Between Front End and Back End Programming

Your First Step: HTML and CSS

html and cssAs a front end developer, it is absolutely essential that you have a firm grasp of both HTML and CSS.

Many newbies confuse the two, so it’s important to understand what each is used for.

HTML, which stands for HyperText Markup Language, is a universal language used across the web, and is used to give structure to web pages. The basics are incredibly simple to learn, and you can probably master it in just a few days.

The confusion comes because HTML, by itself, is not used to determine the appearance of a web page. For this, most websites use CSS.

CSS is a styling language, and allows you to define elements of a page’s look and feel. This is integrated closely with the use of HTML tags, so it’s important to first understand how HTML functions, and then work on incorporating CSS into your page design.

Academically, you can understand the basics of CSS fairly quickly, but incorporating good design into your pages is something that takes a lot of practice and experience.

The Second Step: Choosing a Javascript Framework

javascript frameworksOnce you have a firm command of both HTML and CSS, you’ll want to move on to learning javascript, using one of the popular frameworks.

Javascript is a scripting language that operates on the client side, as opposed to backend languages, which operate on the server side. This means that when a user loads a webpage, the website loads any necessary javascript components into the user’s browser, so they’re available to execute on command, without loading the page.

Because of this, the use of javascript frameworks has become increasingly popular over the last few years, since they provide for a fast and seamless user experience.

To be frank, it doesn’t really matter which javascript framework you choose. Like so many issues surrounding language choice, there are tradeoffs to each, but most can accomplish all of the same functionality.

As a beginner, you don’t need to worry about why one framework is better than another. Once you learn one, you’ll be able to more quickly expand to others should you decide to change.

I recommend you begin your work with jQuery, which is a simpler, slimmed-down version of javascript. This will help you accomplish more faster, and build the confidence and knowledge that will allow you to expand to the more complex frameworks.

Some of your other options you might then consider are:

  • Angular.js
  • Backbone.js
  • Ember.js
  • Node.js

To learn more about any of these Javascript frameworks, consider using a program like Code School or Thinkful. You can check out my Code School review and Thinkful reviews for more details.

Don’t Feel Overwhelmed

I know that this post seems like it’s throwing a ton of information about how many languages and frameworks you need to learn.

I really want to encourage you not to feel overwhelmed and just take things step by step. Start with HTML and CSS, and then worry about Javascript. Each step you take will make the next step easier, and after a few months you’ll be able to switch seamlessly back and forth between different options.

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