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What web development tools should I learn in 2017?

2017 has been an interesting year for me, I feel like I’ve learned so much about myself, my skills and the industry which is “Web Applications”. I’ve stumbled upon so many great, new ideas & technologies that have been released by well-known contributors and large tech companies such as Facebook, all of which make me glad I have a passion for this line of work.

Yet I’ve not found the time to dive into any of them in great detail, as there’s so much to learn and discover.

However I’m going to discuss some of them anyway, and try to convince you that you should jump aboard the hype train(s) if you want to stay afloat in this dynamic and volatile industry.

The tools you’ll pick up will very much depend on your experience as a web developer, though I’m going to cover tools which a typical “Full-stack engineer” might be interested in learning if they haven’t already.

Programming Languages

The first tool I’d like to talk about is: GoLang. A programming language developed by some of the brightest minds to grace this earth. Designed with the modern web/service stack in mind. With a neat syntax and a range of tools & support. It’s a must-learn language for anyone who’s serious about optimising their applications & working with cutting-edge, leading technologies. I’ve written a couple of articles about Go, and creating a simple HTTP service to return some data in an “api” fashion. I wrote these as I was learning and playing around with some small personal projects.

I highly recommend you check it out after a couple of hours hacking away you will see it’s potential and I’m sure you’d be as eager as I was to build something!

Javascript Frameworks

My knowledge with frontend development tools is somewhat limited, at least, that’s how I feel when I see VueJS & React articles & packages being thrown left-right and center. They intrigue me, and I’m eager to dive into these new, hip Javascript “frameworks”. But I’m not sure which I should invest my time into and whether or not it’ll pay off for the majority of projects I work on. I can see the real benefits of both, but in my case It’s not just me I have to think about when working on a project. I need to consider the skills and knowledge of my colleagues; they need to be able to jump into a project I’m working on and confidently pick up where I left off. Are these tools too complicated for someone to do that on demand? Am I safe sticking with vanilla JS and/or jQuery?

I’ve been fortunate to spend a bit of time having a play around with VueJS and to me, this is the simplest library for someone to jump into with minimal knowledge. It’s built upon the foundation that everything is just a normal Javascript object and behaves like so. I managed to get a small yet complex dynamic frontend (It was even an SPA) in a matter of a few hours. The code required to do so was so little in comparison to a jQuery or vanilla JS implementation and it felt so right. I would feel comfortable using VueJS on a project where a competent developer is likely to come aboard, with little pre-existing knowledge of the framework.

However I’ve not had a chance to try out React and the various tooling surrounding it. I understand it’s power over VueJS, being developed by Facebook and adopted by large companies for their mobile & web apps. But something about it scares me. The examples look overwhelming and unfamiliar. It’s a different way of thinking about how you’re going to implement the frontend for a website. Despite this, I’m willing to give it a go when I get the chance.

Both of these tools are hot right now, and recommended by so many. I suggest trying one out and seeing how you get on, if you’re not enjoying it, then maybe try the other? They both provide you with a way of integrating dynamic UI components which interact with the document or an API service, they just do them slightly differently.

PHP Frameworks

For any typical PHP developer out there it may be pretty obvious that I’m going to suggest you sit down and learn Laravel. And you’re totally right.

In my opinion this is the nicest tool for the job right now. It’s feature rich and has a pretty shallow learning curve. It can be used for small or large scale applications (with a bit of optimising and some common sense).

The benefits you get from learning this framework are beyond comprehension. You become a part of a great community, are provided with great tools & packages and have some great courses and forums to enjoy. Take Laracasts for example. This platform alone is going to make learning Laravel a worthwhile experience if you haven’t already.

And the documentation…. ohh the documentation. It’s phenomenal. I’ve never seen anything so well documented. Granted there’s bound to be a few issues here and there, but overall it’s one of the best I’ve seen to date. I’m sure if you check it out in any detail, you’ll agree.

So there you have it. There’s a handful of things I’m planning on getting deep into and mastering this year. I urge you to do the same. If not with these tools, with ones that take your fancy. Learning is wonderful. It’s how we grow, adapt and mould ourselves into the people we wish to become.

Good luck! :)

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