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Old 02-13-2013, 08:25 PM   #1
IamThomas
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Default Web Developer - Necessary Skills

I know there is a web design forum, but I wanted to have a more broad discussion about the field, with no specific questions about design or technology.

I have 3-4 years of experience with web design and development, starting with an internship back in 2003. From there, I worked for my university on site design and site maintenance, and learned how to implement sites in Drupal. From there, I spent the past 2 years or so doing contract work on the side while working full time as a therapist.

I recently earned my therapy license, and am getting ready to move to a new city and a new job. I applied for a number of web design and programming positions. I've gotten a number of calls for positions that I couldn't do because they needed someone on site 40+ hours a week, and I can only commit to freelance work of a few hours a day.

About a week ago, I got a call from a tech recruiting firm looking for a contract Drupal developer. I had a 10-15 minute conversation with her, and she seemed genuinely impressed with my experience. She said she was looking for someone who could work with Ruby. I told her I haven't worked with ROR, but I honestly believe that I can learn how to do it if required. She asked me to send a copy of my resume that highlighted my web design experience.

A few days later I got an email saying that she doesn't think I would be a good fit for their web developer positions. I asked her what exactly she was looking for or what concerns she had. She replied that she is looking for someone with "more recent programming experience". My last design freelancing job was last summer, so I'm not exactly sure how more recent they are expecting.

So I guess I wanted to ask those with more experience - what skills do you think is necessary to work in web development today? Does having a break between jobs mean your skills are out of date, or did I simply talk to a recruiter who didn't know what the job requires?
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Old 02-13-2013, 09:23 PM   #2
Cogman
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Based off of your description, the first problem I would have with hiring you as a web developer is the fact that you have experience as a "drupal" developer. Now, drupal is a good powerful tech that makes getting a good website up quick and easy. However, most people looking for web developers aren't trying to attack problems that drupal handles well (Ok, they might be, but you will have a devil of a time convincing them).

So what is wrong with saying you are a drupal developer? It doesn't say anything about your knowledge of actual programming. Drupal is simple enough that anyone can use it. It would be like someone claiming to be "An excel developer" or even "A power point developer". Now, don't get me wrong, you can do some real programming in both of those pieces of technology, however, most people simply don't do anything all that complex or advanced.

So what can you do to get yourself moved into a web developer position? Look at learning fundamental web techs. By that I mean CSS, javascript, and HTML. It would also help to learn some backend language like PHP, Java, C#, or whatever you fancy really.

Here are some simple questions you should be able to answer as a web developer.
What are the reasons for separating CSS, HTML and javascript?

What should HTML be used for? What shouldn't it be used for?

What should CSS be used for?

What should Javascript be used for?

What is Ajax and how is it used?

Can you write a javascript script that counts from 1 to 100 and prints out fizz when the count is divisible by 3 and buzz when it is divisible by 5?

What are some of the pros/cons of javascript?
These are pretty basic questions that I would expect any web developer to be able to answer.

So to get a job, focus less of Drupal and more on core technologies. You can mention what you've done with Drupal but don't dwell on it.
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Old 02-14-2013, 12:52 AM   #3
beginner99
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And if the positions requires developing web apps that are publicly accessible through the internet, you will also need to have very good knowledge of IT security, most common flaws in web apps:

https://www.owasp.org/index.php/Top_10_2013-Main

But basic knowledge is IMHO also required if you develop intranet apps, especially SQL Injection and mabye also XSS because it's so easy to do that.
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Old 02-14-2013, 12:13 PM   #4
IamThomas
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Thanks for the replies everybody!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cogman View Post
Based off of your description, the first problem I would have with hiring you as a web developer is the fact that you have experience as a "drupal" developer.
Well, I have experience as a web developer, but have utilized Drupal for the past two jobs I've had simply because the clients had need for certain features (user accounts being one) that Drupal does quite well. However, using Drupal isn't as easy as it seems, as you still need a working knowledge of PHP, Javascript, HTML, CSS, and SQL to get the site to do anything beyond the generic templates you download.

I always start out with fully functional (or nearly) site that the client is happy with before moving it into Drupal.

Besides which, the client was looking specifically for a Drupal developer.
Quote:
Here are some simple questions you should be able to answer as a web developer.
I will try to answer these off the top of my head!
Quote:
What are the reasons for separating CSS, HTML and javascript?
For similar reasons you use an object in languages such as Java, it provides portability in that you can use the same CSS script or Javascript code for many different pages, and only need to change or correct a single file if needed. CSS also separates content from presentation, allowing one to be altered without affecting the other.
Quote:
What should HTML be used for? What shouldn't it be used for?
HTML is used for the placement of elements on a site, and should not be used for presentation (font, sizes, colors, ect).
Quote:
What should CSS be used for?
The things HTML should not be used for, presentation of the site.
Quote:
What should Javascript be used for?
Client-side functionality, such as menus, dynamic content, or behaviors that do not require interaction with a web server.
Quote:
What is Ajax and how is it used?
That I do not know. I know it exists, but have never had a need to use it.
Quote:
Can you write a javascript script that counts from 1 to 100 and prints out fizz when the count is divisible by 3 and buzz when it is divisible by 5?
Sure I can. I won't bore you by making you read the code, but the algorithms used are simple.
Quote:
What are some of the pros/cons of javascript?
Off the top of my head, pros are that it is easy to learn, doesn't require many resources, and you can find prewritten code that does pretty much anything.

Cons are that it isn't 100% secure.

Now, I realize that I'm not the most experienced web developer or programmer out there. I make that clear to anybody who asks. However, I think I am a fairly intelligent guy and can understand abstract concepts and learn how to use a language or tool quickly.
Quote:
Originally Posted by beginner99 View Post
And if the positions requires developing web apps that are publicly accessible through the internet, you will also need to have very good knowledge of IT security, most common flaws in web apps:

https://www.owasp.org/index.php/Top_10_2013-Main

But basic knowledge is IMHO also required if you develop intranet apps, especially SQL Injection and mabye also XSS because it's so easy to do that.
Very true.

Last edited by IamThomas; 02-14-2013 at 12:27 PM.
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Old 02-16-2013, 03:38 AM   #5
beginner99
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IamThomas View Post
Now, I realize that I'm not the most experienced web developer or programmer out there. I make that clear to anybody who asks. However, I think I am a fairly intelligent guy and can understand abstract concepts and learn how to use a language or tool quickly.
Now put yourself in the position of the recruiter.

He has a guy with 10 years of extensive web development experience with multiple server-side technologies including RoR and worked in 3 different companies in that time.

Another contender did some freelance work for 4 years often using drupal to create his sites and he only really knows PHP on the server-side. He claims he is intelligent and a fast learner.

Which one would you recruit?

The only advantage you have is that they can pay you a lot less...and that only counts if the recruiter thinks short-term and does not know much about IT. Or said otherwise: "if you think experts are expensive wait what amateurs cost you". In IT, that holds especially true ( A guy wearing a suit from <insert your most hated consulting company here> is not necessarily and expert. So expert -> expensive but expensive !-> expert)

I'm not saying you are an amateur or suck but in my limited experience, experience matters a lot in IT. I would prefer someone with a 10-year experience and good track record any day before a magna cum laude graduate from MIT.
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Old 02-16-2013, 04:53 PM   #6
cytg111
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"more recent programming experience" && webdev == javascript

As far as i can tell .. amp up on your javascript skills!
javascript is getting around more and more as days passes, even going serverside as i can tell by my fav dev hotspots(!)

(but i really really i hate js .. so friggin .. friggin)
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Old 02-17-2013, 08:27 PM   #7
douglasb
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I would take the time to learn a good js library like jQuery.
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Old 02-18-2013, 11:18 AM   #8
mosco
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IamThomas, if I were you I would come up with better answers for the question "What is javascript used for" and "Pros/Cons of javascript". Javascript isn't just a little tool people use to make menus anymore. There is a growing ecosystem of applications built entirely out of JS (and I am not talking about an HTML frontends).
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Old 02-22-2013, 04:46 AM   #9
tech7
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I recommend creating something in your spare time, some sort of website or web application, even just a simple online tool of some kind. What that might be depends on your own interests. Try to keep it achievable within a reasonable period of time. It will look good on your resume and shows that you have recent development experience (even if it's not commercial experience).
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Old 02-22-2013, 04:59 AM   #10
Ancalagon44
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Yeah, you need to know Javascript much better. Much, much better.

Another good question would be, what is the difference between Javascript and another commonly used object oriented language, such as Java or C#?

Read up on jQuery, write a page that uses AJAX, which means you need to write something server side too. Read up on all the different javascript frameworks and libraries.
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Old 02-22-2013, 09:51 AM   #11
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The most challenging thing about finding a job today is having to compete with Indians on H1B with 10 years of experience and a master degree at the tender age of 21.
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