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I'm interested in developing a website from the ground up. Where do I start? What should I learn? What should I use?

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( 5 months ago )

I'm quite new to the field of computer science but I think I've got a pretty decent idea for a website to aid classroom CS learning and collaboration. I'd really like to develop the website from the ground up and make it a sort of pet project in hopes of eventually getting it out on the web for free. Hopefully I can get some teachers to adopt it for use with their classes.

The problem is that I honestly don't know where to start. I've got the idea but I don't have enough formal education to guide the implementation of my idea. The site should have quite a bit of functionality in the long run. I'll need to be able to store user and class data/files as well as offer discussion boards and other things.

Without getting into too many details, what is the best way for me to get started? What languages and databases should I be most interested in as I build the site and ensure scalability and future functionality developments? I would really appreciate any information you could give me on how to structure the project/stack as I don't have much of a clue at this point. I have the idea. Now I just need a little bit of help getting started.




( 5 months ago )


There are definitely already projects out there that will (more than likely) do everything you're currently considering. That said, there's immense benefit in doing a project like this for personal development - you get to learn, and you expand your public portfolio. If you run the project as open source, you can also demonstrate your ability to work with others. All very good (hireable) attributes.

Are there any programming languages you already know? Are there any that your course is going to be teaching that you know ahead of time?

There are so many different languages and frameworks available to choose from, but I'll only mention a few.

  • Language: Framework
  • python: django
  • ruby: ruby-on-rails

I'm a huge fan of django. Python is quite a nice language to learn. I'd recommend django purely from a biased point of view. Python runs on Windows, Linux, and Mac, though you probably don't want to host python on windows (culture more than ability).

Conversely, if you really like Windows, ASP.NET MVC makes building out websites very very easy. Mono does allow you to run .NET on linux and mac, but you might find support lacking, and I wouldn't suggest using Mono for your first project.

PHP is (was?) another popular language for building websites in. There are tonnes of web frameworks available for PHP. Popular opinion seems to be that PHP makes it easier for developers to write bad code, though it is possible to write good code with PHP.

Unfortunately, without knowing a rough direction in which you're headed, it's nearly impossible to offer some concrete advice. Database choice will generally come down to what language and platform (linux/.net) you're targeting. Web server also fits this profile. Once you decide on a language, narrowing down the other choices become a lot easier.

what's your interest