Weekly Web Developer Q&A (4/22/2016)

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If you sent me a question via email, Twitter, YouTube, etc this week… then look below because there’s a good chance I’m going to answer it.

Knut via email asked:

I’m a student at a university in Romania. I study computer science and in about a month and a half i will have my final examination. The project I’m working on is a CMS for a website with stories about our town’s history. My question is, can you give me some advice about how should i proceed, like should i do it in plain php or use some framwork?

If you were building it to use for yourself or clients, I’d tell you don’t. There’s so many good content management systems out there already, I’d just pick one and learn how to code functionality for it.

But, sounds like it’s for a class, so…

I’d built it in straight PHP. The point of writing a CMS for your class is to learn how to do it and you’ll just learn a ton more writing it completely in PHP in my opinion. The framework route seems like it’d be “cheating” a bit. 🙂

So, for class… go for straight PHP. Learn the frameworks later.

Peter via email asked:

I’m a Kenyan studying Computer Science at a university in the Kenyan capital Nairobi. I’m now halfway through my third and semifinal year. I have a deep interest in programming. I would love if I ended up in the AI field of CS. So, I thought I should ask you, because you sound very informed about these things;  what would you do if you were an African seeking to establish yourself as a reknown programmer in an African country? Which programming languages would you learn first? And what kind of apps would you try to build in such an environment? I collect tips in your emails and videos but I thought I should try a shot at getting a more wholesome answer, and one answered with that context in mind. I will greatly appreciate.

I’m not sure it’s a ton different because of where you live.

You become a well-known developer by building things that people like, by being knowledgeable and willing to share the knowledge, by being easy to work with, by being a good communicator, by being responsible…

And all the things I drone on about constantly.

I don’t think that changes based on where you live. And, there’s not shortcut around it. So, if you want to be well-known… start building stuff, start working with clients, start creating helpful tutorials for people, etc.

The specific languages and apps don’t really matter.

It’s about being someone of value others as best you can.

Jacqueline via email asked:

I think I’m going to learn code through FreeCodeCamp.com. This website works by learning code then applying it to working on projects for non-profits. I thought this would be an effective way to find my passion/what I’m interested in as well as build a portfolio. However, I’m wondering if Udemy might be a more efficient way to learn code I need to get started. If I was to go the Udemy route, what courses would you recommend doing first? If you have time, I’d appreciate your input.

I’ve never looked at FreeCodeCamp.com so I can’t say much about it… but I love Udemy. It’s like a gold-mine of great courses especially for web developers.

What I like about it compared to some other sites is it’s a marketplace with tons of different courses from different instructors. So, it’s not one monolithic perspective on coding. You get a ton of different perspectives which I think is critical.

As for courses…

There’s a lot but the two main ones are The Complete Web Developer Course by Rob Percival and the Ultimate Web Developer Course by Brad Hussey.

They cover a lot of the same material, but in different ways.

So, you get those multiple perspectives. Plus, Brad’s course has a whole section on design and using Photoshop that Rob’s doesn’t. I recommend any new web developer take both.

Plus I’ve worked out discounts on both for you. 😉

Jon via Twitter asked:

Hey John, what is your opinion on coding boot camps for people just getting in to web dev?

I’m mixed on these.

Some are really good and very quickly get people to where they need to be. Others, maybe not so much. Plus, I generally think it’s unnecessary to spend the thousands these boot camps often cost.

The two course I mentioned above are “boot camps” themselves.

That said, there’s definitely value in the in-person, one-on-one help most of the boot camps have. And some people need that which is fine.

So, if you know you’re someone who needs or wants that in-person mentorship and you likely won’t make it without it… then it’s worth the investment.

But, if you’re someone who can be more self-directed and learn things without that hands-on help… then you likely won’t get near the benefit out of it.
Brent commenting on How to Write Proposals on Upwork asked:

Thanks for the video John, very informative and helpful. Out of curiosity, do you have any rough stats on how effective this approach has been compared to how you did it before using this approach? I’d be interested to see how this approach alone has helped improve your success.

Real rough… I went from not being able to get work to finally getting it. I mean, that was the biggest thing.

But, after learning that 3-step method I went from charging $25/hour to $90/hour in less than a year. I started getting so many invites that I had to turn my profile off because turning down all those jobs was actually hurting my rankings.

And eventually I did well enough that I was able to get off Elance.

There’s no question in my mind how effective the method is.

(By the way, if you want to learn that method I cover in my Patreon-only e-course this month which you can get access to by becoming a supporter listener of the podcast of $10/month or more. Info here.)

Kayla commenting on How to Build a Simple PHP Form asked:

Great video! Is it possible to do something like this in WordPress?  I’m trying to create a business plan online where users can fill out their information, the info will be save,  and users can view it later. Any advice? Thanks!

There are several good forms plugins in WordPress.

Gravity Forms is the most popular it seems, but Ninja forms is good as well. All of them do a good job of collecting the info. It does get a bit tricky when it comes to displaying the info, though.

For that, you’ll likely need to do some coding…

But, display is also the easiest part. So, you can save yourself a bunch of time by letting these plugins do all the back-end grunt work and then writing your own plugin that grab and display the data.

That’ll do it for this week.

If YOU have a question, you can send it via email to john@johnmorrisonline.com, tweet me @jpmorris on Twitter or leave me acomment on YouTube.

(Keep in mind, I might not respond to these directly in those places because I collect them up for this Q&A. Also Patreon supporters get priority access so if you want to make sure you get your question answered, consider becoming a supporting listener.)

P.S. If you liked the show, give it a like and share with the communities and people you think will benefit. And, you can always find all my tutorials, podcast episodes and more on johnmorrisonline.com, @jpmorris on Twitter and youtube.com/johnmorrisvideo.

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John Morris


I’m a 15-year veteran of freelance web development. I’ve worked with bestselling authors and average Joe’s next door. These days, I focus on helping other freelancers build their freelance business and their lifestyles.

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