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Thread: Assessing your own HTML/CSS/PHP/Javascript skill levels

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    Default Assessing your own HTML/CSS/PHP/Javascript skill levels

    I was recently nominated by my techno-phobe sister to help a friend of hers with "web stuff". Having her act as an information relay wasnt the best approach because I couldnt glean much about what I was being asked to help with, but I agreed to visit her friend and find out what the problem was first hand. The only information I'd been given was that this friend was in a middle-management position and lead a team of web developers.

    I was intrigued but a bit intimidated because I'm only a website technician by trade and all the coding skills and knowledge I have are from making hobby websites or a small amount of freelance work. I have no formal web related qualifications but 8-10 years of tinkering experience, so why would a web-manager want help from me?

    It turned out that "the friend" was having problems programming javascript code. I asked him to show me the website and explain what the problem was exactly. His explaination baffled me - he said he didnt have a website and that he just needed help writing the functions. I thought he meant that the website was in build stage in a secure location and that he didnt have access to it, but no... he didnt have a website.
    After chatting more, it turned out that he's never even made a website. (how can you write any kind of code and not test it in context?)
    Sure, he knew HTML and CSS (tags/properties and what they did) and was also saying something rather impressive sounding about javascript language being similar to the structure of PHP, but he still hadn't built a website!?!
    He'd done the classwork, knew all the codey-words, got a qualification and then got his management job based on that. What he didnt have was any working experience.

    It seems that employers are a fickle (or ill-educated) bunch - do they all want the applicant with this bit of paper rather than a good working knowledge? How was he heading a team of web-developers?

    So, this leads to my thread title - how does somebody like me, accurately assess their skill level without any formal training or qualification to pitch it against? I always tend to err on the side of caution and call myself an intermediate in HTML/CSS but beginner in javascript/PHP but after speaking to the manager guy, I'm left utterly bewildered.

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    It's really hard to say anything about your experience because it's hard to get a full picture. One thing I can say is that there is a big difference between management and design, so as long as he knows how to manage a team and understands the general way that stuff goes together (such as who does what parts) and what a good final product looks like, then he may be a very effective manager.

    Anyway, it's hard to say. I think the best measurement is what you feel comfortable with. Don't sell yourself short, but don't plan to do something you're going to be unable to complete if you don't know the background knowledge.

    Web design is my hobby as well, aside from some occasional freelance work, so I think I'm in a similar position. I think the most important thing is that you understand how the other languages work and what they can do, and then aside from that just work with what you know. For example, I'm terrible with Javascript but I understand the general stuff well. I know when it's needed and what it can do, but I'd be very hesitant to sign up for a project/position where I'd have to code with it.
    Daniel - Freelance Web Design | <?php?> | <html>| espa˝ol | Deutsch | italiano | portuguŕs | catalÓ | un peu de franšais | some knowledge of several other languages: I can sometimes help translate here on DD | Linguistics Forum

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    Its the writing javascript without a testing environment part that baffled me but I agree, if he's good at managing people, then his position is probably valid.

    I just couldnt get my head around the fact that he knew (what seemed to be) a heck of a lot of code from his classwork but had never made a website to test things and experience his scripts in action. If you know the functions from reading a book, of course its easy to say "I know what X does" but I dont think you really know the effects of HTML/CSS/PHP/Javascript (or whatever) unless you can see it working first-hand.

    Normally I do work to a level where I feel comfortable, and only venture out beyond my comfort zone in hobby-time. From there I can take what I've learnt into work and get on with stuff.

    It would be nice to have some kind of checklist to mark off the things I know and have somebody at the end of it say "you know 58% of all PHP functions and 92% of CSS properties" so I know how far I've got to reach to call myself "fluent in everything" so I can apply for these high-flying jobs and not feel overwhelmed.

    Ho-hum, back to work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Beverleyh View Post
    ...but I agree, if he's good at managing people, then his position is probably valid.
    I'm not sure. You can only be good at really managing people (rather than just telling them what to do) if you know by shared knowledge and experience what they are supposed to be doing. The person you're talking about is like a school manager who tells teachers what to do without any teacher's experience. That type of managers can be (but are not necessarily) a disaster!
    ===
    Arie Molendijk.
    Last edited by molendijk; 06-27-2010 at 12:12 AM.

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