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The Front-End Developer’s Guide: Just because they say they do, doesn’t mean you should too

May 10th, 2010

One of the great things about the web design and developer community is that a lot of the experts love to share their knowledge and opinions. I’ve learn a ton from sites like gotoandlearn and CSS-Tricks. I’ve spent a lot of time on sites like that, learning the things that they were awesome enough to share. A lot of the sites I follow will also post their opinion about everything web, like the Apple vs Adobe fight over Flash or what CMS to use. But something that took me a while to learn was that, although a lot of people knew a lot more than me and what they did worked for them, it wasn’t always the right thing for me. Here’s a few example:

PHP is a horrible language and you shouldn’t use it

A lot of web developers out there use PHP but most of the guys whose blogs I follow are always going on and on about Ruby and Python. So, being a newbie, I started looking into both because that’s what the guys I respected said I should do. Ruby and Python are both powerful programming languages and, for those that care, the syntax is amazing. But here’s the thing, unless you’re building something like Twitter, then PHP is probably good enough. Most of the time, if you’re working for a smaller company, like me, or if you’re a freelancer, you’re not going to be working on huge sites with hundreds of databases. Most of the sites I make just need to display a few things that are in one or two databases and PHP is perfect for this. Plus, PHP has a huge community and it’s 100% open-source, any problem I’ve had was quickly solved with a search on Google. I’m not saying it’s the best language, I’m just saying for most of the stuff people do, it’s usually good enough to get the job done and get it done quickly.

The editor you use to write your code matters

For some developers it’s a mark of pride which code editor they use, for Flash especially. Lots of guys use FDT or Flex/Flash Builder and look down on people that use Flash Professional. The same goes for writing HTML/CSS, if you’re on a Mac you use Coda or Textmate, on PC you have tons of options and each one has it’s own benefit. But in the end, it really all comes down to what program you’re comfortable with. I learned to use Dreamweaver in school and that’s what I still use now. I don’t think I’ve ever used the design view but I used it for two years and school and got used to the code completion. I’m trying to move to Notepad++ but the comfort level isn’t there yet. Use the editor you like, I know guys that like to code in Notepad.

You should use a CSS framework

CSS frameworks have become really popular lately and their are people out there that use them for every site. I have to say, I’ve never used one. I tried once but the time it took me to figure out what was going on, I could have built the site from scratch. If you’re comfortable using a framework, go ahead, but don’t feel you have to use one. The main mistake I think most people make is trying to force a design into a framework.

4 Responses to The Front-End Developer’s Guide: Just because they say they do, doesn’t mean you should too

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Atomic Robot Design Blog | The Front-End Developer’s Guide: Just because they say they do, doesn’t mean you should too « Atomic Robot Design --

  2. John Macon says:

    For PHP development you should check out Zend Studio for PHP Eclipse. I loved working on it at work so much I bought a personal license for me to use to replace Notepad++ with. Well worth the $600 price tag.

  3. You make some good points. Often Ruby and Python people will make you feel like you’re an idiot for using PHP, but PHP is great: it’s designed for web development, wraps up all the HTTP stuff nicely, comes with templating built in, and is a piece of cake to deploy.

    Even so, going with Ruby or Python can still a good option, even if all you’re doing is smallish sites. First of all, you’re likely to be using a framework like Rails or Django, and they take a lot of the pain out of web development. You’re much less likely to hack things together messily, because it’s much more difficult to do that, and you end up with a neater finished product, one that is easy – possibly even pleasurable – to maintain.

    This is why I’m going to maintain parallel development modes in the near future: PHP/Wordpress on one side and Django on the other.

    By the way, Ruby, Python, Django and Rails are all open source.

  4. “unless you’re building something like Twitter, then PHP is probably good enough”

    What about if you’re building Facebook? Good luck doing that with PHP! Ha!

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