Introduction to Web Development

Web developer classes San Francisco

If you’re interested in joining a San Francisco web developer class, it’s good to know which languages you will be learning before getting started. Front end developers do the majority of their coding in HTML, CSS and JavaScript, while back end developers rely on PHP for their work.

Understanding What a Web Developer Does

The main task of any web developer is to build and maintain a website, however most professional coding work is focused on projects and involves team collaboration.

Comparing Types of Web Developers

When it comes to web development, there are a few avenues available: front end, back end and full stack. Take some time to learn a little bit about each role below.

Front End Developers

Front end web development refers to what appears in the browser and includes elements like the navigation bar, user interface elements and content presentation, and usually involves using JavaScript, CSS and HTML, along with the appropriate frameworks.

Back End Developers

Back end web development is the portion of programming that stays on the server and remains unseen by the user. The back end holds everything needed for the front end display and is typically built using Ruby, Python and Java to help with data.

Full Stack Developers

A full stack developer has a solid understanding of both the front and back ends.

Methods of Learning Web Development 

As an aspiring coder, there are several ways to learn web development: earn a university degree in web development or a similar major, attend a programming school or enroll in an in-person or online coding bootcamp.

Practice Makes Perfect

While a web development class or bootcamp will provide the foundation for your learning, the best way to master coding skills is to practice. Although it is possible to teach yourself from scratch, it can be much harder to gain a full understanding of the concepts without the guidance provided by a classroom setting.

Introduction to HTML

Created by Tim Berners Lee in 1990, HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language and is the most common language on the web.

As a markup language, HTML lets you provide information along with instructions on how to interpret it.


HTML relies on tags, which include the greater-than sign, a word and a less-than sign, sometimes with a slash inside. For example: <ul> or </ul> indicates an unordered list. The first part is the opening tag while the second part with the slash is the closing tag, indicating where the tag begins and ends, respectively.

Some HTML tags used in web development are singular, such as <hr> for a horizontal line and <br> for a break.

Overall, there are about 145 different tags in HTML, but web development does not require you to constantly use them all. Some are much more common than others.

Introduction to CSS 

CSS, or Cascading Style Sheets, is used in front end development to describe how various HTML elements should show up and allows developers to control layouts for more than one webpage at once.

Why CSS Matters

CSS was created to help eliminate the need to include a long list of HTML tags in the development of complex webpages. It essentially allows you to leave out the style formatting elements from your HTML page.

How CSS Works

Most developers will save the definitions for styles in external .css files, which means other developers can change a single file and subsequently change the appearance of every website page that refers to it.

Introduction to JavaScript 

The original goal of JavaScript was to “make pages alive.”

Programs created with JavaScript are known as scripts, which can be written into the HTML of the page and run immediately. Scripts are executed as well as provided in the form of plain text, so you do not need to include any special compilation or preparation.

In-Browser JavaScript

JavaScript can be used in web development projects and executed in a browser, on a server or on a device with a JavaScript engine.

You can use in-browser JavaScript in a web development project to manipulate the webpage, interact with the user and interact with the webserver. As such, you can use JavaScript to add additional HTML to a page, modify the style, react to actions that the user takes, send requests to remote servers, ask questions to visitors, show them messages, set cookies and engage in local storage.

For user safety, there are some limits as to what JavaScript can do. It cannot read or write arbitrary files on a hard disk or execute programs, access the JavaScript from another website’s page or receive data from other domains or sites without explicit agreement.

Advantages of JavaScript

Web developers are fond of JavaScript for a variety of reasons, including its simplicity, its full integration with CSS and HTML and its support by all of the major browsers, which includes default enabling.

Introduction to PHP 

Created by Rasmus Lerdorf in 1994, PHP began as an open-source project, and evolved over time as it grew in popularity. Its name is a recursive acronym that stands for “PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor.”

PHP is a language for side scripting that gets embedded in HTML. You can use it to build e-commerce sites, track sessions, manage dynamic content and more. It is also integrated with the most popular databases, such as the Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL and others. Plus, it supports major protocols, such as IMAP, LDAP and POP3.

What PHP Can Do

Some of the most common uses of PHP in web development include performing system functions such as creating, opening, reading, writing and closing files on the system. PHP can also take care of forms, access and set cookies, restrict user access and encrypt data.


If you want to build webpages, the best place to start is with a basic introduction through a web developer class. From there, it’s important to practice each specific programming language used in the area of web development you’re interested in, as it allows you to hone your skills and see the various skills you’ve learned in action. Even if you do not plan to become a web developer, learning about web development can provide you with insight into your daily interactions online.

*Please note, these articles are for educational purposes and the topics covered may not be representative of the curriculum covered in our boot camp. Explore our curriculum to see what you’ll learn in our program.

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