You’ve probably heard of many of the following technologies. They’re buzzwords, meaning they’re often misused and sometimes overused; but they’re also essential to any well-build web application.
- Ruby on Rails is the excellent web application framework I use for all of my current work. Rails excels by opinionated assumptions about the “unimportant stuff” (there’s a lot of it), leaving the developer free to focus on the important stuff. Rails is my tool of choice for any web application that has a database and needs some amount of “thinking” or logic in order to provide users with appropriate content; for a static website that merely serves information to visitors, you may be better off with something like WordPress.
- MySQL and PostgreSQL are two very popular relational database systems. Both are great at storing and managing complex interrelated data. MySQL is a bit more popular and easier to set up; PostgreSQL is a bit more “proper” and is my default.
- HTML5 is an emerging standard for writing web content. While it makes certain dynamic and interactive components of a web page much easier to build (e.g. adding videos), many web browsers don’t support all elements of HTML5 yet, which is important to consider when building a site for a broad audience. However, the basic web language HTML is essential in all web development.
- CSS is the language for changing the style and appearance of web pages.
- Bootstrap is a CSS framework that prepares a huge number of default styles, making it easy to build a beautiful, easy-to-use website much more quickly. I rely on this framework to make prototypes look good enough to be usable and appealing, but most high-profile and high-traffic websites will eventually want to abandon Bootstrap for their own custom styling.