Learning web development to understand the network


Everything seems to be moving to the web. Software As A Service (Saas) is fast becoming the way that businesses do business. Microsoft Office 365 is, as far as I am concerned, a SaaS offering and it is being used by SMBs and Enterprise customers alike. When you are fast approaching a point where most of your business can function with an internet connection and a web browser, it is a good idea to have an understanding how everything is working.

Just under three years ago I decided to purchase a book and learn how to write some code and make a basic website. I had an idea to make an online schedule for my team at work that would allow them to easily see what jobs they were scheduled to be working on and if any changes to the schedule were made they would receive an email. I managed to get it to about 80% complete before temporarily sidelining it...two years ago...

Pandora's box was opened

Well, it quickly became apparent after starting to work on this project that there was a lot more to it than I had first imagined. Making a page in HTML that can be rendered in a browser is something very different to getting that page hosted on the internet. You need a domain name, you have to assign that domain name some nameservers. Those nameservers need to have records that point to the public IP address of your chosen server. You need to install web server software on it and configure it so that it is secure. You need to configure and install an SSL certificate (you don't have to, but you should). All that just to host a simple page on the internet and I have almost certainly missed something. There is so much to how it all works.

How does this help?

Well, having a good idea of how to host a web server, dynamic websites and databases will give you an insight to what all the cloud providers are actually doing and what the main bulk of their business is made up of. It will furnish you with a better understanding of what your network users are actually doing and how they are going about their work.

Three years ago, I had a good working knowledge of networking, virtualisation and general computing. Starting down a path to becoming mildly conversant in web development has taught me things that I would never have come across in my day-to-day working and given me a much broader understanding of so many parts of the network and the internet that I otherwise would not have had.

Next stop

I am currently learning some front-end development and trying get a good working knowledge of Javascript (Green Sock Animation Platform and Scrollmagic) and CSS (CSS Grid and Flexbox). Once I feel more comfortable with these I will venture back server-side where all the damage is done.

...and that schedule thing

I still plan on finishing that team scheduling app at some point, though it will probably become a (poorly maintained) WordPress plugin when it is finished. I still haven't found a schedule/calendar tool that is close enough to the functionality that I want so I'll have to make my own.

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