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Ask HN: What to learn to create amazing sites
9 points by hodbby on May 4, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 14 comments
I want to create a commercial website. I have knowledge in programming but never used it. I am trying these days to learn Python on my own but my time is limited. Just bumped into this amazing website 42floors.com and i thought to myself that this is exactly what i want. So my question is- What should i learn? how do you think I can learn it? and if you know good sites for that purpose?

Thank you all

The idea that creating "amazing sites" requires nothing but programming skill and dexterity is just wrong. There is so much that goes into creating an amazing site, and many would argue that "programming" is the least of it. I'm not suggesting programming is unimportant; I'm just pointing out that it is just one piece of many. And besides - the term "programming" is sort of being thrown about along with HTML and CSS. I don't really consider writing HTML or CSS to really be "programming" so I'd just sort of beware of some of the advice you're given. Are they important? Of course. But that's just one aspect of a site, just as "programming" might be just one part of "site development".

I wish I had links to share or book suggestions to provide but I don't really know of any that walk you through every aspect. I can just rattle a few ideas out and you can take away (or ignore) as you wish:

  User experience
  SQL programming
  SQL administration
  Front end design
  Front end image creation
  Front end coding (HTML, CSS, and wiring up lang./frameworks used)
  Middle tier coding
I think tzaman is about right with the 3-5 years estimation for most people. There are a few folks who can do this in 2-4 years too and even fewer would could do it in a year.

well written answer. I am looking for faster lane, don't have 3-5 years. What do you suggest?

The 42 floors website is JavaScript heavy, so if you want something comparable you'll want to be well versed in the three web languages; HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Codecademy.com is a great place to get started, and there are plenty of free resources online to help you along. With focus and determination, you'll be building JavaScript apps like 42 floors in no time.

Thank for the quick response. How long does it take to learn these 3 languages (consider the fact i had 10 years ago CS degree but never used it)?

Here is what you need to do:

1. Learn HTML/HTML5 - I can't really recommend anything here. I just sort of picked it up.

2. Learn Ruby on Rails - http://ruby.railstutorial.org/. You can probably pick up a lot of HTML and CSS from this tutorial. I spent about 50 hours working through this. You're probably looking at 80 hours or so.

3. Learn JS - http://www.codecademy.com/tracks/javascript

Once you've put about 200 hours into the the above, I'd say you're probably capable of building a working website. It won't be pretty, but it will work.

Refractor and fix from there.

If you're in it alone, I'd say 3 - 5 years.

Sorry, didnt get your answer. It may take me up to 5 years? and what do you mean by saying "... in it alone"

Okay, to build something like 42floors you need the following knowledge (guesstimating):


- CSS3

- Javascript

- basics of image manipulation

- some kind of backend language (PHP, Python, Ruby, Node.js,...)

- some kind of database engine knowledge (SQL, NoSQL, both?)

- user experience planning, testing and execution

- extensive server administration

- different APIs

These are just the technical aspects, now count in the whole business side of things. 3-5 years. Probably more if you want to master all of the above.

Got the picture. Well, that will not put me down. I have CS degree, I have 14 years experiences in High-Tech industry as a QA and lots of knowledge. My goal is to be a founder of a similar site (technically) like 24floors.com and I need to start somewhere. Thanks tzaman.

Truthfully it depends. Some people pick up on stuff quickly. Just come up with an idea and start building. I find that the best way to learn. If you get stuck just Google.

Google is the solution to any problem. Thanks god we have Google.

I would pick a framework Django (Python) and or Ruby on Rails (Ruby). Not because they are better, but because there is lots of documentation and howto's and and it's relative easy to get something on the screen. That keeps you motivated and you will pick up on the language along the way.

That's why I did started Python, Until I saw this amazing site.

Here's a minimal list:

* HTML / HTML5 * CSS * JavaScript

Later on, when you feel the need for server side programming:

* JavaScript on Node.js

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