Monday, January 23, 2017

Visiting the Upside-Down

One of my non-game projects has led me into the Upside-Down - the world of full stack web development.

For many of you web development is the norm and the world of game development with Unity3D, Unreal, Xcode, etc. is an alternative reality, but for me the world of web development is both overwhelming and exhilarating.

My last venture into web development was with 3 Blokes Studios doing Facebook games. Back then we used Flash/ActionScript to write our front end and PHP for our backend. The games I worked on included Hospital Town, Virtual Villagers and Galactic Allies.

Virtual Villagers on Facebook
While I'm still getting my head around all of the front end and back end tools, I must say I am very impressed with the technology available. It's so easy to be stuck in the bubble of game development and work solely within the realms of Unity3D and C#, or focus one hundred percent on iOS development and Swift/Objective C. Sometimes the web raises its scary head but its usually (at least for me) in the shape of trying to set up a Wordpress page.

Galactic Allies on Facebook
But I've been lucky to dip my toe back into the web.

My experience so far has been limited to HTML, CSS and JavaScript with Bootstrap to make some truly sexy front ends. For those unaware, Bootstrap is a front-end only framework that was originally known as Twitter Blueprint. It provides a bunch of re-usabel components that make building a web front end super easy and helps maintain a consistent and professional look.

Hospital Town on Facebook

I'm still immersing myself into this world and am looking forward to learning more about jQuery, AngularJS, Node.js and React - which are just a few of the many, many other frameworks that help make web dev easier. In fact, the sheer number of options can be overwhelming and it seems like new stuff is appearing all the time.

Just when I thought I had a handle on JavaScript I learn about CoffeeScript (which was used to build Trello) and the new kid on the block, Elm. These are both languages that compile to JavaScript but let you write better code.

It's still early days for me and I have a lot to learn, but I'm having a lot of fun. For anyone interested in finding out more, here are just a few articles/links that friends have shared with me that I've found useful. These are by no means complete - merely scratching the surface - so please let me know ones that I have missed!

Microsoft Visual Studio Code -

I tried out a bunch of editors including Atom and Sublime Text but I've found Visual Studio Code to be simply amazing. It's free, has loads of extensions and works on Windows, Linux and MacOS.  Make sure your grab the Bootstrap 3 Snippets and vscode-icons extensions and do yourself a favour and learn the Emmet snippets shortcuts (which are built in). These makes writing HTML a breeze!

CoffeeScript -

AngularJS -

Learning - they have a bunch of great courses on all aspects of web development. My tip for Udemy is to log in, check out the courses, and wait. They usually send you an email with discounts for courses.


Now, I wonder if I can apply these new skills to making something fun on the web? I guess I better return to the Upside-Down to find out :-)

Click the photo to see more of Michael's cool art!


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