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[web] Going beyond HTML and CSS

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I've recently finished a complete overhaul of my website. I'm quite pleased with it, but it is still just a collection of static pages, hand-coded in XHTML and CSS. I know next-to-nothing about what technologies to use beyond this. What if I wanted to make the site more dynamic, for example adding a forum, or even something simple such as a way to count the number of downloads of a certain file? Am I right in thinking that PHP, coupled with some form of SQL, is one way to do this? Is it recommended, or are there better choices? Should I also learn something else, such as javascript? Finally, if anyone can recommend any books/tutorials on these or related technologies, I'd be grateful. Thanks

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You could learn javascript or PHP; they are both similar in syntax. The biggest thing to note is that one is a server side language (code is executed on the server), the other is a client side language (code is executed on a user's computer). You could also look into other server side languages, but you have to see what your webhost has available to you.

As for any resources: go here

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Most of those things you mentioned have pre-built tools you can just install. Counter scripts are a dime a dozen. Bulletin boards are free. You do not need to know any programming to get these things to work and you should not attempt to reinvent the wheel there.

But if you are looking to expand your horizons and absorb more web dev technologies, then yes, PHP and MySQL is a good place to start. They are freely available, easy to work with, and can get you a job (like me!).

javascript it almost useless unless you are doing AJAX-like things and most people will have no need for such things.

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Quote:
Original post by leiavoia
javascript it almost useless unless you are doing AJAX-like things and most people will have no need for such things.


Not necessarily. There is a lot that one can do with javascript. Getting your script to work with all browsers is definitely going to be a problem, but once you get the hang of it there are many cool things that you can do with javascript on-the-fly that are not really necessary, but make viewing the page a tad bit more interactive. Simple things like dynamic form contents (eg. when you change the option in the "country" dropdown, you get a different set of items in the "state/province" dropdown corresponding to the country) or collapsable boxes (The "Show/hide" kind) make the page look more alive.

Of course, there is no doubt that the real power of a dynamic website comes from its server side scripting. The most common (and portable) server side scripting language is PHP and database is MySQL, but there are quite a few more and it all depends on what your webhost provides you. PHP and MySQL are also easy to install locally for development purposes and not to mention completely free.

If you wanted to start learning PHP/MySQL, start with something like:

Practical PHP Programming - Good for beginners... consicse and easy-to-understand language
or
Zend.com's PHP for the Absolute Beginner - Just as good as the one above, if not better

Both tutorials include a brief introduction to using MySQL in your PHP scripts.

Wherever you learn from, just make sure you get the latest editions that deal with PHP 5 rather than read from age old PHP 4 books and then learn that half the stuff you learnt can be done in a much better way much more easily and go through the learning process again. [wink]

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If you have no idea about PHP (or any other similar language that can be use for web development), you can consider using a CMS (i.e. Wordpress, which is rather blog oriented, but can handle static content also very easily).

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I originally taught myself PHP & mySQL using the tutorials on webmonkey.com. Totally useful as I've done major amounts of freelance web dev over the years since then to supplement my income. I'd recommend 'em.

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hey.....cool man, the wierdest thing about this is my names paul also and i have a similar site too:

www.pauldev.com

haha, yeah the name is kinda silly, but i think the site has some cool stuff, kinda the same thing you did, although i think yours is a tad more polished. keep in mind i havent messed with this site too much since probably about january.

nice site, i might take some notes and add a little to mine ;)

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Im a huge fan of PHP and MySql. Started learning a few years ago and I've never looked back since.

I know there are loads of free tutorials on the internet, and the php manual on php.net cant be beaten in terms material covered, but if your interested in buying a decent book on the subject I can recommend this one here

It starts right at the basics and works up to much more advanced projects using real world examples, so the material is all relevent. What I appreciated most was that all the code in the book was on CD, so you could immediatly start playing around with the examples given.

I know books arent for everyone, esp with so much free stuff on the web, but I found it a great foundation to build from.

I hope this helps :)

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