Let me start of at the end... the website works! It's in private beta right now and I hope to release it to all in a month.
But even if you don't want to learn everything, say you just want to learn enough to put something decent together; well you're still in for a steep learning curve. Here's the list of mandatory technologies I've had to either know or learn to jump into the Web 2.0 world:
- HTML - Remember the days when tags like "center" and "table" were your friend? Forget it, you're just using div and span now.
- CSS - I hate CSS. It isn't a programming language at all. It's fine for colors and sizes. But once you use it to do layout, your headaches will begin. It's an art more than a science and nothing feels deterministic:
Do you use the "top" or "margin-top" attribute? Who knows, try both.
Why do we have both inline and inline-block? Because we can.
Unfortunately, CSS is the only thing out there that does what you want. You just have to swallow it.
- python - Admittedly, I was already pretty well versed in python (i luv python). If you don't want python, you're going to have to learn PHP or one of the other web-programming languages.
- jQuery - Very cool, I must admit. But for the uninitiated, it's totally different from anything you've done before.
- jQuery Plugins - There's a jQuery plugin for everything. Great. Unfortunately, its a new API you have to learn to do anything.
- Django - The web-backend. Cool technology but pretty massive and you have to learn quite a bit of it to do anything. Oh, did I mention that to use Django you have to learn its own special html-markup language too? It can easily take a day of tutorials to get familiar with the system. I've been working with it for a month now and I've only started becoming comfortable.
- Google App Engine - It isn't necessary to learn google app engine. But they're a ridiculously cheap web-hosting solution... actually, for most cases it's totally free. But they do things so totally different, that there is a nice learning curve. To start with, there is no file system. Enjoy.
Moral of the story is that making a website is pretty complicated involving nearly a dozen technologies. But websites are the future (ahem, present) and it feels pretty gratifying being able to put a real-life site online.