Introduction

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  1. What We're Building

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Have you ever wanted to build something from scratch that other people could use? You could learn carpentry, knitting, or other physical crafts — but what about something for the web?

There are tons of tutorials and instructions for writing your first website using HTML and CSS, but building something that interacts with the user — a full, complete web application — might feel unachievable and out of reach.

The reality is that starting to build a web app is not as hard as you might think. Of course it’s not easy, but today’s tools can help a novice web developer create a basic web app in no time at all. It’s only a matter of learning the basics and launching something real, and you’ll be ready (and hopefully excited) to learn more.

I used to be a web designer with no appreciable programming experience. In fact, once upon a time, I did take some introductory computer science classes at my university. After a couple of semesters, I thought I hated programming (and especially with Java), which drove me to switch my field of study to Art. I vowed to never program again.

Fast forward again to when I was working as a web designer: I kept wishing certain web apps existed. I’m sure you know the feeling. Still convinced I hated programming, I tried finding a “technical cofounder” to help me launch an idea for a web app I had. It didn’t work. I was back to where I started:  an idea, no cofounder. I had two options: quit or finally try to write code again.

Friends introduced me to Python,  a programming language that made way more sense to me than Java, and is simply nicer looking as well; and Django,  a framework built on Python to help jumpstart the creation of web apps.

Slowly but surely, I built my startup, WeddingLovely. Over the next six years, I joined the startup accelerator 500 Startups and was accepted into the Designer Fund, raised money, and eventually made WeddingLovely into a mostly-bootstrapped profitable business.

It wasn’t easy. The tutorials I found online all assumed previous programming knowledge. Crazy acronyms (like MVC) abounded, explanations only further confused me, and tutorials heavily relied on the command line,  a tool friendly only to experienced programmers. As a web designer the results didn’t feel “real” to me until I saw them on a website.

Hello Web App is what I wished had existed when I was learning to develop web apps. I wrote this book to be free of confusing explanations and unnecessary acronyms. I talk plainly, not academically, as if we're having a conversation between friends. This book doesn't teach "best practices" — it teaches the easiest way to launch a web app.

I hope you enjoy!


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