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Web vs Mobile Development: Which Should I Learn First?

Liz Eggleston

Written By Liz Eggleston

Last updated on December 28, 2020

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Web vs mobile coding bootcamp

Deciding which programming language to learn, and ultimately whether to pursue Web Development or Mobile Development, is a tough decision and really depends on your personal and career goals. Check out our guide to help you decide.

Popular web development languages include C#, Java, JavaScript, Ruby, PHP and Python to name a few. If you enroll in a web development bootcamp, you will likely start by learning HTML, CSS and JavaScript, which provide the basic backbone in any website today.  Popular mobile development languages include Swift and Objective-C for iOS and Java for Android. In the case of iOS, Apple has created Xcode, its own integrated development environment (or, IDE) providing developers with a set of frameworks and tools in order to create apps for the iPhone, iPad, and Mac. If you enroll in a mobile development bootcamp focused on iOS, you will without a doubt learn the ins and outs of Xcode as well as the fundamentals of Apple’s new programming language, Swift.

While this is a subjective matter, many developers feel that the learning curve for web development is a bit easier than for native mobile development. Web development has been around for a good bit longer and thus the sheer volume of tools, frameworks, tutorials, etc, lends a helping hand to beginners just starting out.  That said, mobile development does, at least in the case of iOS, require the use of an IDE, which can help point out errors and catch mistakes – a big help to a newbie.  Either way, the career of a software developer is one of consistent learning – to succeed in an industry that moves as quickly as technology, it’s paramount to enjoy and thrive in learning new tools and techniques of the trade.

For those interested in breaking into the field, it’s important to do some research on the surrounding markets to gauge which technologies are in-demand and who’s hiring.  While the trend is certainly favorable, it may be more difficult to land a junior iOS or Android-only developer job, as most markets seem to house more entry level positions in the Web space.  That said, the more versatile a developer the better, and the shift towards native mobile apps doesn’t appear to be lessoning any time soon!

Jason Deegan, VP of Product Development at Teledini, agrees, “Beginners should start by having a strong foundation in Web basics. But when you're ready to set yourself apart from the crowd and become an invaluable resource, native iOS and Android development are essential in an increasingly mobile world.”

DigitalCrafts’ immersive bootcamp instructor Rob Bunch, also shares his experience:

“Based on my experience in the job search, I found that nearly every employer’s need was to find an individual with a strong web development base, knowing they would have to teach some of the minutia. There were almost no opportunities solely focused on mobile app development, but nearly every employer asked if I had any app development experience. As the job market evolves, app development will become more and more prominent need, but the current job market is demanding web development first and hoping for app exposure.”

But is it possible to learn both web and mobile? DigitalCrafts in Atlanta has developed an innovative model allowing students to learn mobile and web development simultaneously (should they choose). While programs at General Assembly, Bloc and Thinkful allow students to mix and match part-time courses in mobile and web, DigitalCrafts offers a 16 Week Immersive Bootcamp that teaches beginners 2 full web stacks with an optional 12-week iOS App Development Elective. When asked why the program offers mobile and web development simultaneously, the DigitalCrafts team says:

“We want our graduates to be as employable as possible - simple as that. With every decision at DigitalCrafts, we ask ourselves, "Will this help our students get hired?" The answer in this case was easy. Native iOS development is an increasingly in-demand skill that employers want to see on a developer's resume. The more technologies you're familiar with, the more versatile and valuable you are as a developer."

To conclude, the decision on where to start as a beginning developer may seem like a tough one, but the life of a good developer is one of continuing education and career growth.  Take solace in the inevitability of change that will provide countless opportunities to find the projects that impassion you as a developer.  Take a look at the market you live in and the jobs that are available.  Visit the schools that interest you and meet the instructors and staff that will help you get started.  One thing is for sure, you won’t excel at something you don’t enjoy, so check out freely available resources like Codecademy, Treehouse, or in-person workshops to get a better idea for what sector of development you’re most likely to enjoy.

Wherever you start your career is likely far from where you will end it, so the important thing is just get started!

About The Author

Liz Eggleston

Liz Eggleston

Liz Eggleston is co-founder of Course Report, the most complete resource for students choosing a coding bootcamp. Liz has dedicated her career to empowering passionate career changers to break into tech, providing valuable insights and guidance in the rapidly evolving field of tech education.  At Course Report, Liz has built a trusted platform that helps thousands of students navigate the complex landscape of coding bootcamps.

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