A Guide to Becoming a Full-Stack Developer

By Focusoncode August 23, 2018

To be a full-stack web developer requires a lot of skills. When you are a beginner it isn’t easy to find the right learning path. This post will help you with an overview of technologies you may learn about being a full-stack developer in 2018.

1. HTML & CSS

HTML and CSS are two fundamentals, which you meet first at the very beginning of any programming course. It works this way because thanks to HTML you can add materials to a web page, and CSS helps to give it a certain style.

Start with:

  • Semantic HTML.
  • Be able to explain the CSS Box Model.
  • Benefits of CSS preprocessors (you don’t necessarily need to understand how to use one on a deep level, but you should understand what they are for and how they help with development).
  • CSS Media Queries to target different devices and write responsive CSS.
  • Bootstrap 

2. JavaScript

JavaScript is the essential building block for adding dynamic features to your website. The JavaScript language is an implementation of the underlying ECMAScript specification. Learning JavaScript from the ground up is an essential milestone in starting your web development career. For many frameworks, on the frontend (Angular, React, Vue.js) and on the backend side (Node.js) the knowledge of JavaScript is a prerequisite.

Start with:

  • Learning working principles of DOM and JSON.
  • Focusing on the language’s important features: prototypal inheritance, event delegation, etc.
  • Paying much of your attention to one framework of your choice.
  • Having a common understanding of testing frameworks. 

3. Back-End Language

Once you have learned HTML/CSS and JavaScript you will need to go on to a back-end language that will handle things like database operations, user authentication, and application logic. If you ask someone which is the best back-end language to learn, you will get different responses. Below you have a list of them, whichever you decide to learn, just stick with it and learn as much as you can about it.

4. Databases and Storage

When learning to build web applications, at some point you’ll probably want to store data somewhere and then access it later. You should have a good grasp on the following topics related to databases and storage.

  • Understand the benefits of relational data, e.g. SQL.
  • Learn about NoSQL databases, e.g. MongoDB.
  • Understand which would be better in certain situations.
  • Know how to connect a database with your chosen back-end language (e.g. Node.js + MongoDB).
  • Understand the benefits of in-memory data stores like Redis or Memcached.
  • Web storage to store sessions, cookies, and cached data in the browser.
  • Scaling databases, ACID, and ORM (all optional).

5. Http

Stands for “Hypertext Transfer Protocol.” HTTP is the protocol used to transfer data over the web. It is part of the Internet protocol suite and defines commands and services used for transmitting webpage data. HTTP uses a server-client model, For example, you can create a request via the JavaScript code, which will be sent to the back-end code. It will happen thanks to HTTP.

Not so long time ago, software specialists began facing lots of security issues with HTTP protocol. The thing is HTTP data is not encrypted creating an extremely unsafe environment for website users. Now, we have a secure version which is called HTTPS. No matter what website you work with, knowing HTTPS is a crucial matter. If your website stores sensitive data, then this type of protocol is of the biggest importance for you.

 

6. Web Application Architecture

Once you think you have a grasp on HTML/CSS, JavaScript, back-end programming, databases, and HTTP/REST, then comes the tricky part. At this point if you want to create a somewhat complex web application, you’ll need to know how to structure your code, how to separate your files, where to host your large media files, how to structure the data in your database, where to perform certain computational tasks (client-side vs server-side), and much more.

The best way to actually learn about application architecture is by working on a large application yourself that contains several moving parts — or even better, working on a team and together developing a somewhat large/complex application.

Start with these things:

  • Gathering information about platforms as a service.
  • Working on the optimization of the app.
  • MVC.
  • Learning codebases from the GitHub large projects — people there know what they’re doing.

7. Git

Git is the most well-known version control system. If you understand how it works, you will successfully cooperate with other developers working on the same project. When any changes are made, you will hold a finger on the app’s pulse: get the latest data and update it, make necessary fixes, etc.

At the very beginning, it’s useful to know some negative points you will face inevitably. Some people would say that knowing everything means knowing nothing. So any full-stack developer should track his knowledge to keep up with the technology improvements. Any tricks you’ve learned should be written in a blog or a personal planner. Such a meticulous work is not for everyone.

Don’t expect that you’ll be given lots of responsibilities when you make the first steps in full-stack development. Any specialist of such kind should prove his skills, so you’ll be probably given only a part of your future autonomy. Be ready to fight for more tasks on the way.

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