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Becoming a Web Developer? Here Are 5 Technologies to Consider

Last updated on April 2, 2018

With a projected job growth of 15 percent from 2016-2026, web development is an exciting and fast-growing industry. The positive outlook for web development jobs is a result of the increasing influence of technology in society, including the enormous expansion of mobile internet browsing and e-commerce. Any time you shop online, use internet banking, post a social media update or read the latest news articles online, you’re using websites and web applications that rely on the skills of web developers to look good and function as they should.

Combining computer skills and communication skills, web development is a rewarding career for anyone interested in computer science. This is particularly true for those with a strong analytical mind and good problem-solving skills, such as the ability to use logic and reasoning, as well as some creativity. Knowledge of the main programming languages and technologies used by web developers is also essential to becoming successful in this field. Below are five modern technologies you should consider learning on your path to becoming a web developer. (We’ll also be including information about related degrees and certificates where you can develop these skills at the seven Dallas Community Colleges along the way.)

1. JavaScript

JavaScript is an object-oriented programming language that web developers use to define how web pages and applications should behave. JavaScript plays an important role in what defines modern web pages; they are dynamic and interactive, allowing users to engage with websites and web applications.

For beginning web developers, JavaScript is a challenge to learn; this tends to be true for every developer’s first programming language. Beginners to JavaScript will likely start learning the language with a background in HTML as a minimum starting point. JavaScript represents a significant jump in difficulty because it’s a programming language rather than a simple markup language like HTML. For people already familiar with a similar programming language, JavaScript is not too difficult to learn.

JavaScript is the most popular technology used by web developers in their work, and the average annual salary in the United States for a JavaScript developer is about $72,000.

Pros of JavaScript

Some pros of JavaScript include its speed, popularity and versatility.

Cons of JavaScript

Disadvantages of JavaScript include client-side security concerns (because the code executes on the visitor’s device) and some inconsistencies in web browser interpretations of client-side scripts.

Some additional JavaScript techniques and libraries worth learning to extend its functionality are:

  • Ajax: Ajax is a set of techniques incorporating JavaScript, HTML/CSS and XML which allows web developers to create web pages that update content dynamically without needing the page to reload. An example use case is Ajax file upload: developers can use Ajax techniques to allow users to upload files within a web application without refreshing the page. For more details, see this Ajax file upload resource page.
  • js: This JavaScript framework makes it much easier to write code for dynamic web apps and web pages by extending HTML syntax to more concisely convey an application’s components. Anything that simplifies web development is typically a good thing, which is why Angular is very popular. For common uses of Angular.js, see their Developer Guide for beginners.

JavaScript Uses

  • Use JavaScript to create unique interactive websites, such as the Louis Browns baseball team’s website, which you can browse like a vintage book.
  • Use JavaScript to display a Google Map with a marker on your website. This is useful for magazines and travel guides that advise people on places to go or eat. The script would look like the following for the Empire State Building:
      function initMap() {
        var empirestate = {lat: ‎40.748817, lng: ‎-73.985428};
        var map = new google.maps.Map(document.getElementById('map'), {
          zoom: 4,
          center: empirestate
        var marker = new google.maps.Marker({
          position: empirestate,
          map: map
    <script async defer

Interested in Learning JavaScript?

There are tons of options for people who want to learn JavaScript! One is through the Multimedia Technology program at Richland College. In this program, you’ll also learn about graphic design, videography, portfolio development and maybe even animation, depending on your electives.

2. CSS

Cascading style sheets, or CSS for short, are a style sheet language that developers use to describe the presentation of web pages. This language is essential in separating the web page content from its visual presentation, and it includes all the layouts, colors and fonts that give websites and web apps their unique look.

Web developers typically regard CSS basics as straightforward to understand; however, the language often presents difficulties in terms of applying it, and it can take quite a long time to master all the available properties and fully understand what they do.

CSS, alongside HTML and JavaScript, is a central component of front-end development, which refers to the coding of website and web app features that are directly viewable and accessible by the end user. A typical HTML/CSS developer earns a national average salary of $66,912 in the U.S.

Pros of CSS

Some advantages of learning CSS are how it enables developers to apply consistent styling across many web pages, and how easy it is to make formatting changes by altering one CSS file instead of each individual page.

Cons of CSS

Some disadvantages of CSS include how it renders different dimensions in each web browser, and its lack of security—anyone with read/write access to a website can overwrite the CSS settings.

CSS Uses

  • You can achieve really impressive styling for forms with some basic CSS by rounding the corners. This can make signup forms or other forms used for marketing purposes really pop on the page. The code might look something like this:
#rcorners {
border-radius: 15px;
background: paper.jpg);
background-position: center;
padding: 20px;
width: 200px;
height: 150px;
  • You can also style your website with a responsive design approach by specifying CSS code to adapt your images to the devices used to view them. The basic code for this CSS use is:
img {
  max-width: 100%;
  height: auto;

Interested in Learning CSS?

El Centro College teaches HTML and CSS as part of the required coursework in their Internet Development Technologies program. In this program, you’ll also take classes in Android and iOS application development, database programming and more.

3. PHP

PHP is a server-side scripting language used mostly in back-end web development. Back-end web development encompasses the technologies and programming languages used to power a website or web application and make it function as it should. Backend developers using PHP must understand server architecture in addition to databases and the PHP language itself.

PHP was the sixth most popular technology used by developers in the 2017 Stack Overflow Development survey. As with any programming language, PHP’s difficulty depends on any prior programming experience. PHP is easy to learn, but hard to master. The national U.S. average salary for a PHP developer is $74,799.

Pros of PHP

Some pros to learning PHP are its widespread use, excellent debugging, its compatibility with pretty much any web server and its shallow initial learning curve.

Cons of PHP

The main con is that it is very easy to write poor PHP code; other disadvantages are its inconsistent function names and the fact that it’s an interpreted language, not a compiled one. Compiled code runs faster and more efficiently than interpreted code.

PHP Uses

  • You can build a members-only area of a website using PHP code. User information is stored in a database system, such as MySQL.
  • You can use PHP on the server side to validate forms, which is vital when protecting a website or web app from hacking or spamming.


JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) is a file format that provides a method to store and exchange data in an organized, easily accessible manner with human-readable text. JSON is not a programming language, and the only thing developers need to know is what it does and how to use it in the language they work with.

Pros of JSON

JSON has improved server-to-browser communications, particularly because it offers a better way to implement Ajax techniques such as Ajax file upload when compared with XML. JSON is much more lightweight than XML, meaning it enables data exchange to occur faster between server and browser, with the result being less page update waiting times for end users. Also, JSON has a standard, easy-to-learn structure.

Cons of JSON

A disadvantage is that JSON is a newer technology than XML, so there is more support for XML than for JSON.

JSON skills are worth listing on a resume, but developers who know what JSON is and how to use it can’t automatically command a higher salary.


  • You can display information about a product in an online store when a user clicks on a thumbnail image: the data is sent from the server to a web browser as a JSON string, which the JavaScript decodes and displays to the user.
  • JSON can be used to build a mobile app which queries the API for music. Sending JSON queries on mobile apps is much better than XML because of their light weight.

Interested in Learning JSON?

You can learn JSON, PHP and more through the Web/Internet Services program at North Lake College and Brookhaven College.

5. Ruby on Rails

Ruby on Rails is a server-side web application framework written in the Ruby programming language. The idea is that most web applications share certain basic features and functions, and developers can use Ruby on Rails to focus on just writing code that is specific to their own apps: the framework abstracts and simplifies common repetitive tasks.

A great deal of debate exists in the developer community about whether Ruby on Rails is still relevant; however, Ruby remains a popular programming language for companies hiring developers. A Ruby on Rails developer can expect an average salary of $74,799 in the U.S. Ruby is regarded as an easy language to learn due to its readability, but the Rails framework takes time to understand, with several modules, classes, methods and conventions to learn.

Pros of Ruby on Rails

Some pros of the Rails framework include savings on development time, as well as the helpful community, which often provides support for users who encounter difficulties.

Cons of Ruby on Rails

The drawbacks of Ruby on Rails are slow runtime speed compared to the likes of Node.js, and a lack of flexibility for developers who want to deviate from building a web app with standard functionalities.

Ruby on Rails facilitates the transition to modern Agile development because the framework enables companies to develop and release software much faster.

Interested in Learning Ruby on Rails?

Courses in Ruby on Rails aren’t currently offered by the colleges of DCCCD; however, one option for learning it is through Codeacademy or an in-person coding boot camp.


While these technologies certainly aren’t an exhaustive list of things beginning web developers might want to learn, they’re a good starting point for front-end or back-end web development. Some developers might want to become “full-stack”, meaning they have functional knowledge of all development layers.

Front-end web developers can begin with CSS before moving on to JavaScript. They may then complement their JavaScript knowledge with techniques such as Ajax and a framework like Angular. Back-end web developers should have a very basic knowledge of front-end web technologies like HTML, CSS and JavaScript before moving on to learning a server-side scripting language such as PHP. Back-end web developers will also need to become familiar with database software, including MySQL or MongoDB.

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