Best Web Development Resources For Learning Improving And Refreshing

29 Jan 2013

In the fast paced web development industry, it is essential to stay on top of the newest techniques and technologies. From those new to development that want to learn the basics to veterans that want to expand their knowledge or reposition their careers, the amount of people trying to learn more seems to vastly outweigh those who are comfortable with what they already know.

Learning new web techniques, whether it be frameworks and content management systems or entire programming languages, is a daunting task. Though there are more than enough resources to help you along the way, finding those resources can be difficult. Below is a collection of some of the best resources for learning a variety of different technologies.

Getting Started


Codecademy is a great place for learning the basics of a lot of different web languages. So far the focus has been mostly on front-end languages, but new lessons in Ruby and APIs show that there is a lot more to learn from this web app.

Instead of just a series of tutorials, Codecademy takes you through interactive lessons that makes you write the correct code in order to continue with the lesson. This hands on approach keeps you from skimming and really makes the information sink in.

Where Codecademy really shines is its focus on the ability to "teach anyone to code". If you are brand new to web development, the lessons on Web Fundamentals (HTML and CSS), JavaScript, and jQuery can bring you up to speed with a solid foundation quickly. After that, the Projects lesson can help you tie it all together.

Codecademy is most definitely aimed more towards the beginner, but is great as a review tool for more experienced coders who haven't used a certain language in a long time and need to brush off the rust.


My favorite place for learning the basics of all the newest languages and frameworks, Codeschool is similar to Codecademy in many ways. There are lessons you attempt to pass in order to gain badges, and many of the lessons start from the beginner level. Also similar, there are lessons in simpler technologies like HTML and CSS.

Where Codeschool sets itself apart from Codecademy is the direction it takes after the first few lessons. The Codeschool team does an absolutely fantastic job in putting out lessons on brand new languages and frameworks that are not only meant for beginners, but are also geared towards veteran programmers who are just trying to keep up with new advancements.

For example, instead of basic HTML and CSS courses, Codeschool provedes lessons first in CSS, then in new HTML5 and CSS3 and Mobile techniques, and finally multiple Sass lessons which is certainly dear to my heart. Instead of vanilla JavaScript tutorials, Codeschool includes lessons on cutting-edge frameworks like jQuery, CoffeeScript, Backbone.js, Node.js.

Codeschool even ventures into backend languages, with extensive Ruby on Rails lessons from beginner all the way to Rails testing and RSpec.


Lynda is a massive learning site that has lessons on an extensive amount of subjects. Their web development lessons specifically are also very good, and have a wide range of topics. Lynda's screencasters are all top-notch, and even include Mr. CSS-Tricks Chris Coyier, who does a Wordpress screencast about custom theming.


StackOverflow doesn't have the tutorials or lessons that the others do, but lurking on this Q/A style community of coders is one of the best way to pick up the best tips and tricks on your favorite language or framework, and can help you learn how to fix bugs and avoid common pitfalls. Once you are confident in your knowledge, give back to the community by answer questions and offering help.


Part of the Tutsplus network, Nettuts is a great resource for every kind of web development. Extremely extensive and well written articles explain both general systems as well as specific tutorials. You can also submit your own and make some extra money if you are knowledgable and a solid writer. A site that is not only good for learning, but also for inspiration when you're stuck.


Blog and resource curation by Chris Coyier, CSS-Tricks has become a mainstay in the front-end development community. Along with extremely smart posts about both general practice and specific tips, Chris has a members area with screencasts and other goodies that can help boost your front-end knowledge even further.


Mozilla Developer Network (MDN)

The brilliant folks at Mozilla have not only created one of our favorite web browsers, but in their spirit of open source have also created the extremely resourceful Mozilla Developer Network. There is extensive documentation that can take you all the way from Hello World to advanced techniques. Many developers know of MDN not only as a learning resource, but as a go-to reference for things like compatibility and accessibility. Needless to say, this will be a site you revisit regardless of your skill level.

jQuery Docs

Many developers find it easier to work with a JavaScript library for simple UI interaction, and jQuery is certainly one of the most popular. The docs for jQuery are fantastic and each piece of jQuery code has extensive explanation and examples. It isn't easy to find a jQuery solution that can't be worked out simply by reading the documentation.

Eloquent JavaScript

Eloquent JavaScript is a book written by Marijn Haverbeke that takes you from the basic explanation of the language all the way to advanced techniques. This is the only book I've listed here because it can be found for free in HTML format online. This book would come highly recommended even at his full list price, but the fact that it is free to read anywhere makes it an essential piece to learning JavaScript from the ground up. It can be a little slow if you have previous knowledge of the language, simply because Marijn takes the time to go into extremely detailed explanations. Great both as a single read and as a reference resource.

Crockford on JavaScript

Douglas Crockford not only a legendary JavaScript developer, but a big reason of why JavaScript enjoys its current popularity. Crockford created JSLint and JSMin, wrote the O'Reilly book JavaScript: The Good Parts and is famous for being Yahoo!'s JavaScript Architect and a lead JavaScript developer at Paypal.

From the website: "Starting in 2010 and through 2011, Douglas delivered his acclaimed series of lectures on the history of JavaScript, its features, and its use." Watching these lectures can be a big help in both knowledge and inspiration for up-and-coming JavaScript developers.

How To Node

A great resource on the server-side framework Node.js, How To Node has lots of articles both about general Node.js practice and specific tutorials.


If you're just getting started into jQuery and need a baseline, LearningjQuery can be an extremely helpful resource in getting you off the ground. Tons of helpful tips in blog-style format, and plenty of tutorials in the archive.

JavaScript Weekly

A weekly newsletter about everything new and exciting in JavaScript. This is a newsletter that is followed by leaders of the industry, and is great for learning as well as staying up to date.


Why’s (Poignant) Guide to Ruby

A fun and informative graphic-novel style guide to learning Ruby.


RubyKoans is a personal favorite of mine and really helped me get a grasp on using and testing with Ruby. The emphasis on learning by testing and having testing be at the forefront of your objectives really drives home a good point and starts you off by using good practices. This has certainly made continuing onto other resources much easier and has kept me out of plenty of bad habits.

RubyKoans is merely a collection of Ruby files that are broken up into lessons. When you run one of the files, you must fix the problems with it by analyzing the error messages in order to move on to the next part, and eventually the next lesson (file). In turn this lets you learn the code, techniques, good practices, and testing all at the same time. Definitely recommended both for beginners and veterans that want to keep away from bad practices and keep up with testing.

Rails API Docs

Rails has great, in-depth documentation that developers swear by. It is common practice even among experienced Ruby on Rails developers to have the documentation open at all times to ensure good practices and correct usage. Simply picking a project goal and building it while working through problems and gaps in knowledge with the documentation is a great way to start learning the language.


Railscasts are widely considered to be one of the most important and influential resources for learning Ruby in the community. A gigantic series of screencasts and videos that both teaches the basics and informs on new developments. Definitely a can't miss for any Rails developer.

Rails Bridge

RailsBridge is "an organization that works to increase diversity in tech by putting on a variety of awesome free events." They put on workshops that can give you the person human help that you might need to get fully involved in Ruby on Rails. is a resource developed by Satish Talim that has a great ground-up tutorial that can put you on the right track to being competetant in Rails. The lessons include lots of code examples and detailed explanations.



A website dedicated to "teach[ing] PRACTICAL PHP to non-nerd web designer types", KillerPHP has lots of great PHP tutorials that don't require a lot of preexisting knowledge. Learning how to create the basics in PHP can be a great launching point to having a good grasp on language itself. It's lessons on Object Oriented PHP is a great place to start.

Building Your First CMS

This example is a guest post on the aforementioned CSS-Tricks, but there are many tutorials like this out there. Starting with building a simple content management system is a great way to learn the ins and outs of PHP and give you a well rounded baseline for the language. This is a great tutorial, but don't hesitate to search for alternates on the same subject.


Community sharing site for PHP techniques and code snippets.

Avoiding SQL-Injection

Unfortunately, SQL injection should be in the back of anyone working with databases in mySQL. This tutorial from tizag can show you how to avoid those issues.

PHP: The Right Way

PHP: The Right Way is "an easy-to-read, quick reference for PHP best practices, accepted coding standards, and links to authoritative tutorials around the Web".

The pride themselves on staying up to date and making sure that all the latest updates and infomration can be reliably found in the same place. This site can teach you basics of everything PHP, from basics like Design Patterns to Servers, Caching, Frameworks, and more.