Introduction to Web Concepts


What is that Web Developer talking about?


Girl Develop It is here to provide affordable and accessible programs to learn software through mentorship and hands-on instruction.

Some "rules"

  • We are here for you!
  • Every question is important
  • Help each other
  • Have fun


Tell us about yourself.

  • Who are you?
  • What do you hope to get out of the class?
  • What is your favorite local restaurant?

What we'll cover

  • Terms & technologies
    • Acronyms, the world wide web, languages/libraries/frameworks
  • Building a web site
    • Considerations, UX & IA, tools
  • Web development professionals
    • Team structure, hiring one, becoming one

What to expect

  • This is a survey of a very broad topic
  • Get a sense of what you'd like to know more about
  • I don't know everything, and neither will you
  • Have fun! (and ask questions)

Brief History of the Internet

Late 1960s: ARPANET developed by the US military for communications

1970s: Used by researchers and educators to transfer raw data

1989-91: Tim Berners-Lee creates HTTP & HTML used for formatting text and images

1991: Al Gore introduces bill to fund many internet projects

1998: Google!

Terms & Technologies


HTML: Hyper Text Markup Language - The code structure used to convey the content of a web site

CSS: Cascading Style Sheets - A language used to describe the presentation of the content

WYSIWYG: What You See Is What You Get - A type of editing software meant to be used by those who don't know how to code


IDE: Integrated Development Environment - Software meant to support the entire development process, often including compilation for a server-side language

CMS: Content Management System - A program that allows publishing, editing, and modifying content as well as maintenance from a central interface

Open source: A program in which the source code is available to the general public for use and/or modification from its original design

API: Application Programming Interface - An easy-to-use interface or set of tools made available to access a complex application

IP Address: Internet Protocol Address - A unique address for a computer or a server. Some IP Addresses are only unique to the network they are on while others are completely unique

DNS: Domain Name Service - A directory that associates domain names with host IPs to allow users to connect to web sites via URLs

SEO: Search Engine Optimization - The process of increasing your web site's perceived value to search engine algorithms, raising its rank in search results

Web 2.0: Buzzword generally describing a trend towards interactivity, rich media, and social engagement in web design

The Cloud: Services and technology that offer remote storage, processing, or other functionality by way of the internet

What is the world wide web?

Home and daily life of a web site

A typical web site will live or is "hosted" on a web server. Web servers are often large computers connected to a network.

  • Type a web site address into the address bar
  • DNS connects you to the hosting server
  • The files are then sent back to your computer for display
  • Sometimes code must be compiled before being sent back to you.

Clients vs. Servers

Clients make requests, servers fulfill them (usually).

For our web discussions, client = browser, but search engine crawlers, command line interfaces, and other applications can also behave as clients.

While any type of computer can be used as a server, they are generally larger and more powerful than others.


Source: StatCounter Global Stats - Browser Market Share

Parsing languages & media


  • HTML
  • CSS
  • JavaScript
  • Flash (with plugin)
  • Images


  • PHP
  • Perl
  • Python
  • Ruby
  • .Net
  • Java
  • ColdFusion
  • Databases

Not languages

  • Libraries are collections of programming shortcuts for a language
    • jQuery, Prototype, & Mootools
  • Frameworks may include libraries, software, and more. Basically, a collection of assets/tools that helps you work in a particular language, usually from scratch
    • Rails, Cake
  • A specification is a set of currently acceptable rules for a given language
    • HTML5 expands on the HTML4 spec and deprecates some older HTML syntax

Not languages

  • AJAX is none of these, but is a technique combining multiple languages to return results from the server without needing to refresh a page. It stands for Asynchronous JavaScript And XML.

Java != JavaScript


  • Server-side
  • Object-oriented
  • Requires special parser (JVM)
  • By Sun Microsystems


  • Primarily client-side
  • Primarily written procedurally
  • Parsed by any browser
  • By Netscape

Web standards

In general, this means a site should:

  • Have valid HTML, CSS, and JavaScript
  • Meet accessibility standards
  • Meet semantic guidelines
  • Have valid meta data
  • Have proper character encoding

Break time!

Building a web site

Considerations before building

  • What is the purpose of the site?
  • Hosting and a domain name
    • Domain name registration should not cost more than $15/yr
    • Hosting should not cost more than $50/yr
    • Hosting choices may depend on supported server-side tech
  • Whether to build it yourself or hire someone

User Experience & Information Architecture

A user-friendly, well-architected site will:

  • Deepen engagement
  • Increase conversion
  • Raise satisfaction
  • Bring users back

Sitemaps & decision trees

WYSIWYG vs. hand-coding

  • WYSIWYG code editors make general assumptions about what you intended to write which often is not accurate or best
  • They make the job of professionals much more difficult when the code is written poorly and filled with junk
  • To truly understand what you are building, you need to learn the fundamental components
  • Once you know how to code by hand, there are no limits to what you can build!

What languages to use

That depends...

  • HTML and CSS will almost certainly be used
  • JavaScript may be used for interactivity
  • Server-side languages will likely be used for any data storage or retrieval

Demo: How'd they do that?

Fancy flowed text
Onclick expansion
Slideshow spelunking

Server-side languages: What are the differences?

  • The main difference is syntax
    • the set of rules that define the combinations of symbols that are considered to be correctly structured programs in that language
  • They have slightly different strengths and philosophies
  • Which you choose to use will depend on
    • What you are familiar with or want to learn
    • What your host supports
    • Community and documentation

Hello world


    echo "Hello, world!";


    class HelloWorld {
      static public void main( String args[] ) {
        System.out.println( "Hello World!" );

Hello world


    'Hello, world!'


    puts 'Hello, world!'

Hello world


Not server-side, but just for example

    document.writeln('Hello, World!');

Tools of the trade

To build your web site, you will probably need:

  • A simple text editor or code editor such as SublimeText, Notepad, or TextWrangler to write your code. Many can be found for free.
  • A web browser such as Chrome, Firefox, or Safari to test your code. All popular modern browsers are free.

Tools of the trade

You will also need:

  • An FTP (file transfer protocol) client such as WinSCP, Cyberduck, or CoffeeCup FTP to get files from your computer to the server. Many are free.
  • Optionally, an image editor such as IrfanView, Gimp, or Photoshop to edit images which will be used on the web site. Some are available for free.

Web development professionals

Meet the web team

  • Front end
    • User Experience Designer
    • Graphic Designer
    • Web Developer
  • Back end
    • Server Admin
    • Database Admin
    • Software Engineer
  • Overall
    • QA Engineer
    • Project Manager

How to hire a developer

Remember the three Rs:

  • References: Talk to people who have worked with the developer before. Were they prompt? Pleasant? Forthright?
  • Requirements: Can they do the work that needs to be done. Ask for samples of their prior work and ask exactly which parts of the process they were responsible for. Design? UX? DB architecture? QA?
  • Reality: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This website will be a reflection of you, either personally or professionally. Hire someone you feel will be invested in a job well done.

How to be hired as a developer

  • Degrees and certifications: they don't hurt
  • Be curious, a problem solver, and intrepid
  • Build things. For yourself, if no one will pay you
  • Through all of this, learn your craft and how things work










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