Tools

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.
  • Jquery is an excellent Javascript tool that allows developers to build interfaces that feel more responsive and interactive.
  • AJAX is a Javascript / Jquery technique that allows part of a page to be changed without needing to refresh the entire page. This can be used to build interfaces that feel faster and allow users to complete some complex tasks with less distraction than they would experience otherwise.
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