What’s Essential in Web Development

Fabian Thorns: What’s Essential in Web Development

In early 2022, Linux Professional Institute (LPI) introduced the Web Development Essentials exam. This posting discusses some of the reasons why the exam is structured the way it is, the benefits it provides to learners and teachers, and how it may help learners get started with software and web development.

Two major disciplines stand out in the field of information technology: system administration and software development. Even though LPI used to focus on the system administration side, there was an ongoing discussion in the LPI community about development focused certificates. The major questions were: whether such a credential should be a preliminary certificate or a professional certification, and what programming language and software development ecosystem it should focus on.

In the professional realm, some credentials already existed. Professional exams require deep knowledge of a specific technology or, in this case, a programming language. Offering a certification of that type would have required LPI to pick a specific language. That route would not be optimal because choosing a single programming language would have excluded a significant number of candidates, since there is no generally preferred language in the professional field of software development.

When it comes to learning programming in general, the focus shifts from specific languages to general concepts. These concepts are common to almost all programming languages. An education and certificate program that focuses on these common concepts solves two needs: it provides new developers with just enough knowledge to further specialize in another language, and it complements LPI’s Linux Essentials program well. In fact, extending our Essentials program is the key to opening the door for students and learners to various fields of IT, allowing them to obtain skills that are fundamental nowadays, and supporting teachers who have to convey these skills.

However, even an Essentials exam needs a language to code in. When searching for a common ground to get started with software development, we saw that web technologies stand out as the family of technologies most new applications use. Since every web application uses JavaScript for at least some part, JavaScript is the one programming language all web applications have in common. Therefore, JavaScript becomes the starting language for the exam.

The exam content needs to find the right balance between theoretical concepts and practical skills. Learners should be able to build small projects based on the exam’s objectives. Therefore, the exam covers JavaScript in two ways: One topic covers the basics such as conditions and loops as well as client-side JavaScript for website interaction, while a second topic covers server-side programming using Node.js.

Since our Essentials exams focus on foundational topics, we intentionally leave out certain advanced aspects, such as asynchronous programming, even though they are crucial for professional development. Our goal is to cover enough content to empower learners to build a small but functional application, such as a guestbook or a very simple blog. This approach aims to encourage learners to experiment while offering educators enough content to create exercises and projects for their courses.

To support this journey, LPI provides comprehensive learning materials for all Web Development Essentials topics. The materials are available in more than 10 languages for free at learning.lpi.org. We hope these materials inspire both learners and educators as they start their way to learn or teach software and web development.

In the following weeks, the LPI blog will explore various aspects of Web Development Essentials. Next week, we will dive into selecting the most suitable programming language for learning. I am looking forward to more insightful posts and invite you all to follow the LPI blog and explore our learning materials.

Read the next post of this series >>

About Fabian Thorns:

Fabian Thorns is the Director of Product Development at Linux Professional Institute, LPI. He is M.Sc. Business Information Systems, a regular speaker at open source events and the author of numerous articles and books. Fabian has been part of the exam development team since 2010. Connect with him on LinkedIn, XING or via email (fthorns at www.lpi.org).

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