Posted 12.18.2009

How I taught myself to program

I’m often asked, “How do you know all this stuff?” Usually, I just chuckle and say “Oh, I just I picked it up.” This time, instead of laughing my geekiness off, I thought I would share. Most of the stuff I know, I taught myself.

Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign

I’m a huge fan of You can subscribe for $25/month, which gets you access to her entire video library. I’ve learned so many tips and trips for using Adobe products that I’ve quickly become the go to person on my team for “How do you do __________?”


My very first job was with a web company. I came in, knowing close to nothing. They were very gracious and patient with me. Within the first couple of weeks, I was handed a basic introduction to HTML book. Read this. –So I don’t remember exactly what the book was… but, I’ve written a basic crash course of my own that should at least give you a starting place.


NOTE: This book concentrates on the concepts of CSS 2. I know people are pushing for CSS 3, however, I’ve yet to really sink my teeth into it, because it’s not supported across the board.


Kevin Yank does a fantastic job of explaining code in a way that makes sense. This book will help you with all the essentials you need for understanding PHP and MySQL.

If you’re looking for more advanced PHP (i.e. Object Oriented programming), I also read a good chunk of Harry Fuecks’ The PHP Anthology. However, I’ll warn you: he’s a large contributor for PEAR. I was disappointed by how much he relied on the PEAR libraries instead of rolling up his sleeves and actually explaining PHP.


jQuery is a JavaScript library. Other popular libraries that you may have heard of are MooTools or Prototype. I don’t know what prompted me to pick jQuery, but I’ve been so pleased with the ease of use. It was far easier to learn than what I expected.


I watched the Flash Actionscript 3.0 videos and then use the Flash Quickstart and O’Reilly’s Essential Actionscript 3.0 for reference.


If you’re not familiar with CodeIgniter, it is a PHP framework. A lot of the functionality that would normally take a few hours to set up is already been built in. Recently, I’ve realized that I’m a control freak when it comes to writing code. I love the fact that I don’t have to give up any of this control, but can move ten times faster in the building process.

The hardest part for me, in learning CodeIgniter, was wrapping my mind around the MVC model. Once you get that, it’s pretty straight forward.

One of the reasons that I love CodeIgniter is Ellis Labs has done such a fantastic job in writing documentation. (thank you!) So between reading through their site, forums, and other people’s tutorials, I got up to speed pretty quickly.

Expression Engine

Jason Irelan has done a fantastic video screencast on Expression Engine. — Granted Ellis Lab just released EE2.0, but Jason’s already written an ebook for that too! I haven’t read it but, I’ve already bought it.


The other day, I shared my entire WordPress collection. As I mentioned at the top of that post, Digging into WordPress, has proved be the best resource I have found, to date, on WordPress.

Movable Type

This one is a little bit harder. As I mentioned in my CMS comparison post, it’s been hard for me to find ACCURATE resources. On their site, Movable Type has a Designer’s guide that is so-so, at best. Even then, I’ve found some of the documentation to be wrong and definitely lacking. The best resource I’ve found has been co-workers that have run into the same issues I have. (helps you alot, I know.)

My next undertaking: Building an iPhone app

So, I guess it’s pretty obviously, I LOVE to learn. Once I feel like I have a good grip on a subject, I look for another challenge. Right now, I’m trying to figure out how to write an iPhone app. The syntax is a little different than what I’m used to, coming at it from a PHP background. But, I’m finding that my knowledge of Flash helps more than anything else.

One final shout out

A resource that is often overlooked is Google. I don’t think I could code without it. You don’t think about it, because it is the middle man, but it is an invaluable resource.

  • Hire PHP Developers

    I really liked your post well there is lots of learning as a programmer you have to stay updated with every thing in the world of tech and internet.

  • Seenath kumar

    Yes i think it’s wright we have to stay updated as current tech world is moving very fast as many companies are trying to hire PHP developers with excellent skills.

  • Orlando Divorce Lawyer

    I honestly believe that people who teach themselves computer skills are better off. I say this because when your skills become outdated (and they will) they will be better suited to get them updated. They will not be afraid to find a book and re-learn. Those who spent a lot of money to learn it in school, will have a little more reluctance.