My Roadmap for Learning Web Development

I have been seriously studying computer programming since about March of 2014. Before that, I had dipped my toes in a few times here and there. I am very comfortable as a power user. I use computers all day long at my job, and I’ve taken on a basic tech support role there. I have blogged extensively, and I knew the basics of HTML and CSS. I had tried a couple of times to learn javascript, enough to write a few simple functions. But I could never really push on through.

In early 2014 some time, I began seriously thinking about computer programming and web design. I signed up for Udacity and took a few of their free courses. I enjoyed it quite a bit, but I quickly found myself overwhelmed with the sheer mass of things to learn. Should I learn more advanced mathematics? How computers are built? Statistics? And so many different languages: PHP? Ruby? Python? C? Java? Javascript? SQL? VBA? Should I concentrate on web development? Data Science? And which online resource should I use? Udacity? Coursera? Khan academy?

I consider myself very lucky to have found The Odin Project. This is a free online resource that takes you from zero to developer. It gives you a roadmap, starting with a basic understanding of how the web works, to the main tools you use as a web developer (github, the command line, text editors), on to HTML and CSS, then to basic programming concepts with Javascript. It then moves to the back end, focusing on Ruby and Ruby on Rails. There’s a dash of computer science in there, then back to more advanced HTML, CSS, and Javascript. Finally, it gives you a roadmap for the job search!

It has not been easy, or fast. I have been working steadily since July 2014. At the present (December 2014) I am about 60% through the Ruby section, with sections on Ruby on Rails, HTML, and Javascript left to go.

There have been a few small detours along the way. Because The Odin Project no longer appears to be actively curated or moderated, it has been hard to find mentors. I was lucky enough to find a few guys who are at a similar place in the project to form a study group. We decided as a group to work through Zed Shaw’s excellent book, Learn Ruby the Hard Way. I finished up to exercise 47, at which point I decided to return my focus to the Odin Project a little more. I plan on finishing the remaining 5 lessons in Shaw’s book eventually.

Lately I have been thinking of where I will go next. And I’m beginning to get a feeling that I need to go deeper into computer science and how computers work. With that feeling comes a bit of that overwhelmed feeling I described before I found The Odin Project, with so many different things to learn and courses to choose from.

I am going to put things here that I plan on returning to. In the meantime, I am going to stick it out with the Odin Project.

  • MIT’s Intro to Computer Science: I have been listening to the lectures when I commute to work or travel. I haven’t taken any look at the problem sets or any other material, but I can understand enough (because of my background with Python and Ruby, and because Drs. Grimson and Guttag are excellent teachers) to make a difference in how I think about programming
  • Coursera’s Algorithms course. I also see that MIT has a course on algorithms. Which course I take will depend on which language I am focusing on when I get to that I guess.
  • Harvard’s CS50: I like the focus on multiple languages. I’m really interested in getting my feet wet with Java and C
  • MIT’s intro to Programming in C and C+: I want to study C because I hear it can make you a better programmer overall. I may not go with MIT’s course, but this looks like a good one, which is usually taught over the course of 4 weeks between semesters.

Ruby, Online:


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