CMS, hosting, where should I start just to fiddle at the beginning?

I know this is probably too early given that I’m still very far from claiming my Front-End certificate, and even that wouldn’t be it.

The reason I’d like to know how is that the way I write my content depends a lot on what I will be able to do with it.

I don’t think my project is complicated in terms of implementation: it’s a website with content, simple videos, (hopefully quizzes but the wonderful H5P still only exists for Wordpress and Drupal) so I’ll have to code that myself too I guess…and that alone might be impossible?), user login to access the main site, hopefully something to show user progress.

It’s definitely NOT a blog. There’ll be one or two sections that are updated every week or so but that’s it.

I had started fiddling with Bravenet but I just don’t like the interface. I don’t want to use Wordpress because I want to build everything and also because I’d like to continue with javascript… I guess I’ll use Digital Ocean to host everything.

But I’m completely lost and I’d like to at least start something - I learn better that way, and like I said the way I structure and write content depends very much on what it looks like and what I can do with it.

Any advice? My fear is finding myself with my bunch of html and css files and the odd js file, and then find out I have to re-write everything because I missed something I should have implemented at the beginning.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not expecting an straight-out-of-the box solution, but rather a direction, something I can fiddle with, even if I know I’ll quit for a few months to get back to pure learning.

Surge is great to work on the front-end look of everything but I need to see what’s going out with the back-end (and that bloody user login I need + keeping track of progress).

Duh, I’m sorry, I know this post is messy. Imagine what it’s like in my head.

[EDIT] What do you think of Apostrophe or BluePencil ? That would be based on Node.js, which is nice considering all the javascript we learn?

Download VirtualBox and Ubuntu. You can host your own server, break it, and get a new one without any cost but time. Learn to navigate Linux by the command line. SSH into your virtual server. Install the MEAN stack and get NginX running. These are important steps to hosting your own server.


Once you start the backend cert, you’ll have plenty of chances to fiddle around with various backend tech, and you may find that you don’t need a CMS for your purposes.

I would recommend sticking to the course you are on and finishing front end first, then skip to the backend and work through the projects there until you feel confident you can build anything (which is around the time of finishing your voting app for most people!)

Personally, I waste a lot of time researching tools, databases, CMSs before I am actually ready to use them. It’s fine to get an overview, but a more productive use of your time would be to continue making stuff for the certs :slight_smile:

That said, I’ve been hearing good things about Craft CMS, but haven’t investigated it for myself yet.

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Ok. Ok…Ok. Sorry, I’m bugging/sweating. Thanks, though. I was hoping you’d be among those to answer :slight_smile:

I thought I’d make the switch to Ubuntu but haven’t found the courage, not with the hundreds of things I’ve installed over the last year.

Ok, that’s also a great answer - yours and @PortableStick 's are not exclusive. And incidentally I was also hoping to hear from you.

Fine, I’ll find a way to stick to my guns but it’s not easy. Been writing a lot of html and css to start my content already and I’m itching. But ok! :grin:

I found Digital Ocean tutorials very good (

Here is one example How To Set Up a Node.js Application for Production - you can use it to set up a server on digital ocean, aws or at your home.


You can take advantage of AWS 1 year free tier, but you should do it only when you are ready to really use it, or you’ll just waste it (like I did :unamused:)

Also amazon recently launched Lightsail - their answer to Digital Ocean’s droplets

But I’ll echo previous poster :wink: and will recommend you to get good at frontend (and fundamentals) before starting backend - it’s just a completely different beast.

Thanks for the links ! Yes, I guess I’m just being impatient… it’s just that a few months ago I thought I wouldn’t find a solution for my tests and quizzes and when I did, I had to start re-writing pretty much everything. And I’m really itching to start something - even if just the html and css - in a a clear framework.

But I’ll keep your links for when I finish (aargh).

I would like to address this.

When I started I looked at html/css and decided that they are not “real” languages (and they aren’t :slight_smile: ), learned basics just to get by and moved on to js (actually FCC doesn’t enforce you to learn html/css very deeply).

I did all frontend projects, all but one React projects and one backend project. And what I’m doing now? I’m learning HTML5/CSS3 :blush:

Seriously. Week ago I had no idea how float in css works :scream: (my css knowledge is very fragmented).

If you want to work on frontend, learn semantic html (i.e. don’t use divs for everything) and learn css. Especially css. You can’t go wrong with those two.

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Hello from Ubuntu :slight_smile:

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Oh I’m not - oh well, yes I am NOT considering them as cool as Javascript but that wasn’t my point, it’s just that I wanted to see where I was going and start setting up some functionalities. But point taken, I really must stick with the path and go from there. (After having spent the last three hours googling LMS).

So back to fixing my Twitch tv app. :persevere: But good point about semantic html, I do put divs everywhere.

I don’t like you. :neutral_face:

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Hi Tim,

I’m going to go off the reservation from what others have said here.

Don’t switch to Ubuntu, don’t set up a DigitalOcean or any other host. That’s my first piece of advice. Doing this will waste time and your focus shouldn’t be to find new ways to distract yourself. You need to focus purely on the certificates you are supposed to be completing. You are of course welcome to cruise YouTube for related content to boost your learning, etc, but keep extra curricular activities to an absolute minimum or they’ll cost you down the road.

What I’d first recommend is setting up a Cloud9 account. Login with your GitHub account and spin up an instance. Code there for a while, get familiar with building instances, installing software on a stack, etc. This is a totally safe environment that allows you to f$-up royally with zero consequences. You can even install stuff like RVM for Ruby or NVM for Node which are both a pain in the butt to actually setup correctly and learn how to use. You will have time to discover things like how you installed NPM is mostly likely wrong and then how to do it right. You can learn about Yarn, etc.

The thing is every time you install anything on your computer even virtual boxes, they leave their finger prints all over your system and so I genuinely can’t stress enough your need to learn these tools well and in a manner that is safe, which means Cloud9.

As for publishing. Well you can always use or Firebase. Surge will allow you to publish a great many things from HTML to JS. Can’t use a database with Surge, but you can with Firebase. Doing so also connects you with learning about APIs right away. All wins in my opinion.

If you have any further questions, ping me @misterhtmlcss on twitter. While my handle makes me sound like a non-newb, trust me I am, I just found a cool handle early on and I really really hope I grow into it or it’ll become kind of a joke. Trust me I’m like you, just with many years of passive generalist experience since I was a digital marketer since 2004 and worked with the nerds I’m trying to emulate and become now.

This sounds great - I’d heard about Cloud9 here of course but had never looked into it and had no idea.

And I have no idea where I’ve installed everything, I’m sure I must have duplicates and all and it bugs me. [quote=“misterhtmlcss, post:12, topic:69708”]
but you can with Firebase

Great ! For my website project I’ll need more than just html/css/ js…but like you said, I must stick to my curriculum for now, it’s obvious I’m a beginner and I really should focus on practicing and learning before wandering off…

Thanks a lot for your input. Though of course me being me I’ll still be browsing here and there in a couple of days !! That being said, I don’t think your advice goes entirely against installing Ubuntu - but sure I have to set my priorities.

I’ll have a look into what you’ve mentioned though, thanks !!

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I’m very happy to hear it was helpful.
Good luck!!

PS. I used to use Linux back in the day, because I was on Windows, now I’m on Mac and so I have access to everything you’ll find on Ubuntu, but with the lipstick interface too. It’s one of the reasons why Mac is so popular within the Front-end community. All the fun and productivity in one system. *Just a random comment. :wink:

I do that and my open-source fan of a brother will kill me !

I thought I’d make the switch to Ubuntu but haven’t found the courage

I don’t think the suggestion was to switch completely to Linux, but rather to run a Linux virtual machine within Virtual Box.

Your main os hosts one or more guest (virtual) machines. If you wreck a vm, you just delete it and make another. You never worry about screwing up your main system - the virtual/guest machines are sandboxed.

I personally use Xubuntu (Ubuntu with the lightweight XFCE desktop) guests running on a Win7 host.

Oh absolutely, you’re right, it’s just that I had planned to do the full switch and am still considering it though for (indefinitely) later. The Virtual Machine was great advice and it should be my first step before saying goodbye to Windows and I’ll try it soon, that’s certain.

There’s no shortage of OS evangelism on the internet. I prefer to use whatever tool is appropriate for the task. I develop in linux, but there are plenty of other cases where Windows is the best (or only) tool available. So instead of doing the full switch, it may be worth dual-booting or hosting linux machines as VMs. A Windows installation is nice to have around.

Furthermore, how else will you test IE compatibility?! :smiley:

This sounded soooo appealing but I remember having read about it at the time and it wasn’t recommended at all. Have you tried that ?

I bought a raspberry pi 3 for getting acquainted with the linux command line outside of git-bash.
Already used it to install rvm/Ruby/Rails and finish the back end git challenge here. That’s where the MEAN stack will end up since I’m happy with the wamp (XAMPP) on my windows machine…
Once you get openSSH set up, you can use putty to access the pi in a window, also FTP so you can put your own files on the pi without fiddling with the constant mounting/unmounting of thumb drives.
Added bonus: swap microSD cards and it’s a game emulator!
For my old brain the wamp makes sense for now, I like Apache and mariaDB and you can develop full stack (just not out of your LAN) and upload to a proper host when everything works. MEAN stack will be a new learning curve for me (again), but then again that’s how I found FCC.