Book for learning modern web development
September 8, 2019 4:46 PM   Subscribe

Mrs Mars is teaching herself web development. She’d like to have an actual book, both as a reference and because that’s her preferred way of learning.

So far she’s been doing a combination of online classes like codecademy and YouTube videos. Any recommendations for a book that covers the basics, HTML/CSS/JavaScript? It doesn’t need to include anything like React but that wouldn’t rule anything out as long as it also covered the basics.
posted by Eddie Mars to Education (3 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Learning Web App Development is a pretty good introduction along the lines you are looking for.

Of course it is already out-of-date - see the discussion of version issues with the deployment platform used - but it's good that that information can be found on the book's site.
posted by thelonius at 5:28 PM on September 8, 2019

Best answer: Eloquent Javascript is one of the oft-recommended Javascript books for just learning vanilla JavaScript, although I hate to recommend buying it on paper when it's free online. I think that CSS: The Definitive Guide is still reasonably accurate although I'm not sure how much it gets into newer layout stuff like Grid--I know it's there but I don't remember what's changed to know if that'll be an issue. But... look, books are really bad for this stuff.

Like the book thelonius linked, because it looks like it was probably good at one point and is an easy example: There don't seem to be any updates in the Errata there since roughly 2015. I would not count at all on Cloud Foundry or the Twitter API still working as described four years ago, even in the errata, and if you don't have someone you can ask about that stuff... those things can easily turn into whole evenings lost. There's some tech stuff that holds up really well for this, but web dev in particular has been really bad over the last 5-10 years for the kind of stability that leads to useful paper books. It's not even just places where the code has changed, a lot of it is stuff like this, where they recommend tools or APIs that now work differently or might not even still exist. By and large, books on UX and design hold up, books on the actual code parts of web development make great monitor stands.

But Eloquent JS especially is something I'd still recommend, at least the web version, and they get around part of the problem with tools going away or changing by having their own sandbox environment on the site, which I think is really nice.
posted by Sequence at 6:53 PM on September 8, 2019 [3 favorites]

I know you're asking for a specific book recommendation, but if I could make a tangential suggestion: try your local library.

Different books have different styles, and sometime's one author's take on a technology makes more sense to me than someone else who's covering the same topic. Browsing the books at the library would give Mrs Mars a chance to see who clicks with her.

Also, many libraries have access to online tech libraries (such as Safari Tech Books Online) that could give you even more options.
posted by kristi at 9:54 AM on September 14, 2019

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