Question by Fonsten: Am I a good PHP/SQL Web Developer?
I’m looking for a Job:

It’s so confusing to me, trying to explain how well I know a certain technology. I was turned down once for being “over qualified” for a Junior Developer position. I do have a few years of experience and I’m not fresh out of college, but it wasn’t work strictly as a developer (which is what I want!) On the other hand, sometimes at interviews I probably have failed their little tests because I haven’t memorized all of the syntax and libraries. I think I don’t always memorize some things because I use IDEs with Syntax highlighting, Internet Search engines, etc, and that makes memorization unnecessary. I could answer these questions quite easily with an IDE + Internet access [ I really don’t know, maybe they just didn’t like my personality or I wasn’t enthusiastic enough … 🙁 ]

SQL:

I was doing IT work and I learned a complicated schema, although I didn’t write this schema myself. On my own (in the university) I’ve made a simple schema. I was a little confused when they taught “normalization” and never taught myself normalization afterwords. I had a diagram of this schema and leaned a lot. I’ve done SELECT, INSERTS, UPDATES, DELETES from the postgresql command line. I learned for example primary keys, foreign keys, transactions. On the other hand, I don’t know what database normalization is, nor do I know *ALL* of the ins and outs of PostreSQL.

PHP:

I also wrote some PHP code that used OOP (PHP5 classes), the Smary template engine, the XML libraries, the xajax library, string libraries, and the regular expressions libraries. It saved and loaded Form Data as XML files. I know how to use PHP to connect to a database. My HTML code saved and loaded a lot of form data from text fields, buttons, etc, It even had a couple AJAX functions and I used javascript to validate data before form submission. On the other hand, I don’t really know a lot about CSS or “Web Design”. This was not a super fancy website, but a tool for a company that simply saved their customer information. I sort of didn’t really take a lot of time to learn java/ajax. I just searched the web and found a few functions that did what I wanted. I only spent a few months writing these PHP scripts.

I obviously don’t actually want to say negative things about my skills in an interview or on my resume, but this is the balanced truth about my skills. Compared to other langauges, I think I’m best with PHP and SQL(Postgres in particular). How good of a PHP/Webdeveloper do you think I am? I know I “expert” might be a stretch. What should I lean to be able to tell someone at a Job interview that I’m “Expert” or at least “advanced”? (other interview tips that have to do with software or web developers are welcome!)
@Mr Klaus

I know I need to learn more. As I said, I can develop a schema. I even know abstract relational database theory with tuples. The thing is, in real databases, primary keys usually are a serial number, and are not represented by the unique key in the real world relation. No I haven’t worked with a framework. I’ve heard about CSM, Joomla etc.. Short of starting my own business, how does one go about learning all of this? If you DO have any suggestions (e.g a tutorial on the web) please let me know.

Best answer:

Answer by Mr.Klaus
Junior. Not even remotely to be overqualified. Can’t develop and normalize a schema? Forget it, these days developers do everything. Learn the theory.
PHP – forget about memorizing libraries, as long as you understand all concepts. Make sure be able to design your own algos and procedures. Let the employer know you’re capable of it. If you’re not, study.
Any frameworks you worked with? Any PHP products?

(A little hard on you, but the employers will be even harder, so brace yourself 🙂 )

UPDATE: You do have an essential set of skills, but there are a lot of room for improvement. Just tell the employer that you are familiar with few CMS products (Joomla/Typo3 /Mambo – they are pretty simple to use, so you’d figure it out as you learn. I mean worst case you still can read the code).
Get a book or an ebook on a Symphony or Cake frameworks (if you really want to tie with php of course), and make few apps.
And the database theory wouldn’t hurt at all.
If you’re not in a hurry, best would be for you to take few freelance projects, the ones you build from the very scratch.

To sum up: Database theory, learn a framework, play with few open source products, get a freelance job to scoop up all these bits and pieces being paid at the same time. Good luck.

P.S. The fellow below is absolutely right, normalisation you should know, its like come-on

What do you think? Answer below!

2 thoughts on “Am I a good PHP/SQL Web Developer?”

  1. Developing a schema is one thing – developing an EFFICIENT schema is something far different. If you can’t determine to what degree of normalization your schema adheres to, there’s a good chance it may be less than optimal. At a minimum, you should be able to determine the first 3 normal forms (the higher forms are almost never utilized in my experience.) That isn’t to say that every database design must be in 3rd normal form – there are always performance issues and denormalizing back to a simpler form is always an option – but it’s tough to make those calls if you don’t know what the options are to begin with.

  2. Are you good or bad I can’t answer that.

    What I can tell you however if you have a positive attitude you will solve everything.

    I know html, css, php/mysql so basically I set up my own cms (content management system, not csm).

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