Hello DaniWeb Family,

A few years after obtaining my Master's in Business, I decided to completely change careers and go back to school for web design and development. I've recently completed a 2-year program where I studied VB, ASP.NET, C#, Java, SQL, Server 2008, Photoshop, and Dreamweaver among other courses. I love designing and building the front-end of the website as well as writing programs and applications and building databases for the back-end. What I'd like to do now is build a database-driven dynamic website similar to Expedia.com but for a different industry. Is this do-able at my newbie level of expertise? Where should I start? I am not opposed to learning new languages or IDEs as I've been hearing alot about PHP though I have no experience with it. Any suggestions?

Where should I start?

Just start. Start building a regular website and extend it gradually with everything you need for such a website. If you already know ASP.NET I don't see why you'd want to do this in PHP.

Hello Pritaeas,

Thanks for responding. So this is my first time attempting something like this. From what I can tell, you recommend building the site in Visual Studio using ASP.NET. I have the front-end beautifully designed in Photoshop. Without loosing the aesthetics, can I flesh out this design in ASP.NET? Or should I build the pages in DreamWeaver and then carry them over to ASP.NET? Is there a way to do the latter if that is your recommendation?

I am used to generating HTML/CSS by hand, so I'm not the right person to give you advice on that. If DreamWeaver is your preferred choice to get the design in HTML, then do so.

You can develop asp.net using notepad if you wanted to. If Dreamweaver is your preferred app for development, then use it. There is no requirement to develop using Visual Studio. You can develop using whatever tool you wish, then copy the files to th webserver.

Of course, for asp.net, the idea behind using Visual Studio is that it's meant to be used for rapid asp.net development.

Honestly, DreamWeaver is not necessarily my preferred method. It's just where we learned HTML in school and I guess that's why I refer to it. But I have hand coded Java using a text editor like TextPad, and so I'm not opposed to doing that as it keeps me on my toes. However, my experience has been limited to writing specific programs by hand with no HTML present. I learned to do very specific things in very speceific environments which leaves me feeling like my knowledge is segmented. And I'd really love it to be integrated and as seamless as possible. And I feel like there's a way things are done in a formal education environment and then there's the way they are done in the real world by pros like yourself. And I'd really like to close that gap. So if you don't mind, can you explain your process and the tools you use? Is the HTML kept separate from the programming language being utilized?

Thanks JorgeM. I was still typing and didn't see your response come in so my apology for that. This is definitely the type of advice that I'm looking for. So if I hand code both in NotePad, is the HTML kept separate from the ASP.NET code?

I learned VB, C#, and ASP.NET in Visual Studio and I find it very user friendly. So I'm not opposed to using that environment. I'm just trying to put it all together because like I said earlier, I learned to do specific things in specific environments and I feel like my knowledge is compartmentalized... :(

interesting...similar experience here.

When I picked up asp.net, i simply started using visual studio and learned how to use that IDE and droped controls on the pages and modified their properties. Didnt know much about HTML, CSS, or Javascript at the time, but I was still able to build web applications. After feeling that I had a major "gap", a stared from the beginning as if I knew absolutely nothing about web development, which really wasnt that far from the truth.

Studied HTML(5), CSS(3), JavaScript, and jQuery. After a few months of relentless reading and practice, I was finally up to speed with a great foundation. I'd recommend you do the same.

With regards to an IDE, if you are going to continue developing in asp.net, I would suggest you go with Visual Studio. Not because its easy to drop controls on the page. As a matter of fact, I now use visual studio and use very minimal controls. I like using as much HTML as possibe and hand code server side scripting as well. I just simply like the look and feel of Visual Studio, especially the intellisense.

Developing asp.net using notepad is possible, but its not easy since you dont have an IDE helping you identify syntax errors and other features that help you write your code (and organize it) much quicker.

I also stared in VB, switched over to C#. While both are pretty much at Par, and both compile to the same IL, i find that there is a lot more support out there on C#, not to mention that JavaScript follows the same C style sytnax so its makes it a lot easier to develop with.

So sorry to hear that your experience was similar to mine. It's so unfortunate that we paid for instruction that wasn't necessarily as encompassing and complete as it could have been and it left us with some malcontent...initially. Thankfully we are capable and resourceful learners with access to a world wide DaniWeb full of knowledge...smile.

I completely agree with you about intellisense. It's amazing and makes coding so much more intuitive! (If coding can be called intuitive.) I'm definitely an advocate of Visual Studio and mostly because it's the platform from which my development and coding experience was launched. We did use NetBeans and Eclipse some but it was mostly Visual Studio.

I am definitely going to take some time and take a deeper dive back into the basics of some things, especially jQuery and Javascript. I'll have full access to this site in a few more days and I'll be able to walk through the tutorials posted here as well as the rest of the web to learn and practice more.

Thanks again JorgeM for the advice and direction. It is much appreciated!!