Working with the web (or ‘mucking about with computers all day and night’ as my wife calls it) calls for an ever-developing skillset. Just when you feel confident with a language, library, framework, plugin or workflow, a major release comes along and you feel like you’re starting from scratch again. Not to mention keeping up with the brand-new libraries, frameworks, plugins and workflows that promise to be the next essential library, framework, plugin or workflow….you get my drift.
For every technology, technique, problem or question, an internet search will return a myriad of solutions – from useful through not so useful (to put it politely) to ‘that’s just a line cut and pasted from the original documentation that I can’t get to work’.
By accident rather than design, I have found Stack Overflow to be one of the more useful resources. The forum format invites conversation and response, and more often than not, someone else has already encountered my problem (and thankfully been given a solution or pointed towards one).
Primarily being a PHP developer, php.net has been my loyal sidekick for a long time (well, from PHP4 anyway).
There are tonnes of other similar resource sites, along with boilerplates and frameworks that I use almost on a daily basis (who wants to reinvent the wheel anyway – I just want to ride the bike somewhere new).
Online course sites seem to have ballooned in the past few years too – Tuts+ is one of my favourites, mainly due to the wealth of downloadable ebooks that come with each subscription. Topics cover pretty much everything from design, content and marketing to code, but I’ve only really looked at code-orientated articles. Full courses and short tutorials are available at varying depths, and presenter style varies (but I guess that one is subjective).
I currently hold a subscription to Learnable, but that is currently on hold at the moment while I work with some other resources – It’s not necessarily the financial cost of these resources, it’s a case of hours in the day to make use of them!
A co-worker of mine, the very talented Lauren Clark recommended Treehouse to me – which I’m currently using for an iOS/Objective-C course (which I didn’t find on the other sites). Treehouse have gamified their courses, allowing you to publish badges and grades (if you like that sort of thing). My only gripe with the course formats are the short tests – there seems to be only one right answer to progress through them, and as we all know, that isn’t really the case when it comes to the real world (citing Stack Overflow again as proof!). However, my experience so far is positive – the course is broken into neat modules without any huge ‘wtf just happened there’ leaps in the presentations. As with all online courses, presenter style varies, and we don’t always need to see a talking head to go with code snippets and demonstrations. Perhaps there’s some opportunity for voice-over artists or established actors/speakers here. Python with Michael Gambon? CSS with Alan Rickman? I’d even listen to an Java Servlets course if it was voiced by Mariella Frostrup…