My name Shane Hudson and I'm a freelance web developer. I tend to work mostly front end but have plenty of experience with backend API and algorithm development too.
How did you get started in web development, what is your background?
I started a long time ago, as a child I was not allowed much access to the internet due to the prices of dial up. So i had basic experience with quite a few programming languages before I encountered HTML for the first time. I think my first website was a Pok?mon fansite called The Light Of Darkness, sadly it relied heavily on background images for the tables and so the wayback engine doesn't capture it in its full beauty haha.
I think it was the early versions of WordPress that made me start developing seriously for the web, and I can remember spending every evening after school learning everything I could about the web and computers in general.
Where did you learn computer science? Looking back, could you recommend your path for beginners?
I have just finished a degree in Artificial Intelligence, and did start a degree when I was about 11 that I stopped to do my GCSEs in school. So I do have somewhat of a formal background but none of my web experience was taught during either of the degrees, so I consider myself mostly self taught.
The path for beginners is simple - make stuff. Don't go into it expecting to make Facebook or Grand Theft Auto, come up with small projects and finish them. Be it a calculator or something that just helps you complete an every day task, your aim is not to make a product that will sell, you just need to make something that you can learn from. Improve every time.
I can remember spending an entire summer holiday working on a text editor in visual basic. I didn't sell it, I don't use the same language now and I've never made money from visual basic but I learned how to solve problems. It had a word counter and a crude spell checker. Nothing perfect, but it boosted my confidence and proved that I could make things.
What are the books and weblogs helped you to improve your professional skills?
As I was so young, I didn't have many books as I couldn't afford them. But I remember learning from a qbasic book which I didn't have the compiler for so did it by hand on paper. My uncle gave me a Visual Basic book which had a compiler but was full of boring projects. He also have me a C++ book which was massive and it did a good job of reminding me that there is always more to learn.
As for blogs, Twitter has helped a great deal in finding all of the good posts without being bombarded by every RSS feed everyday. There are too many people to recommend but the cr?me usually rises to the top. As my answers have been quite nostalgic, I do remember the very early websites of @zeldman @mollydotcom and @fantasai, but quite hilariously it is only in the last couple of years that I realised that it was their sites I used to visit daily. It is always incredible to meet the people who I was inspired by as a very young child.
What web development technologies and tools do you use for your work?
I tend to switch my text editor regularly, currently use vim or atom. I'm in the process of improving my development workflow across multiple machines (such as desktop and laptop).
Who are the developers, colleagues in your city/country or outside you admire most?
Everyone that gets stuff done. I've been lucky to meet a lot of people that I admire and they really are just normal people doing what they love to do. At the moment Sara Soueidan is doing incredible work and Jeremy Keith does a great job in keeping my mind grounded and caring about the values of the web.