Name: Aniket Pant
Home Town: Dehra Dun, India
Age: 19 (2012)
Education: B. Tech. @ BITS, Goa
Find him on: Facebook, Twitter, GitHub & Google+
I met Aniket at WordCamp Jabalpur. A young guy, chick magnet, hands on coder and full of passion for the internet.
The state of Computer Science is funny in India, most who get a CS degree can’t code. So when you see someone who just doesn’t code but is passionate about building, you know that mind is a goldmine.
King: Let’s dig your past first. Where did it all start? Your love for coding? Who was your godfather, if you had one?
Pant: It’s difficult to talk about things when what started. I am a second generation coder and this makes my father, my godfather. My coding story is all messed up.
I was just 12, my dad gave me this book on C++ by Robert Lafore. I started but slowly my interest dipped. It got boring, the next year was more or less the same.
But soon my interest was back again. By the time I was 16, I was using C++ like I speak English. I create anything with it and the world became so logical. I used to think about how to write a piece of code to solve a problem.
The turning point of my weird coding story comes when I had to make the choice of selecting Engineering in Computer Science and Mechanical Engineering. My dad insisted on Computers but I, like an idiot, avoided it. The decision was mine to make and I found codes boring. I even planned to do R&D work in Mechanical.
At the age of 17, after wasting a full semester having done nothing and completely away from coding, something happened. Something small that created a big change.
During a 10 day vacation, my dad made me work on Joomla! and I liked it. This was my first formal interaction with the web but it worked wonderfully. Soon, I was using the CMS to make a small website and learning about modules and plugins.
Back in campus, a senior wanted people to work on a PSD-to-HTML conversion. I took it and learned the basic HTML and CSS required in hours and did the work! Got quite a sense of achievement after it was approved.
I had found my direction. I spent whole semester working and learning HTML, CSS and PHP. In the next 4 months, I could create absolutely everything I could think of.
That sounds like quite a start. There is a common misconception, thanks to movies, that suddenly people wake up one day and they are changed and set for something big. What do you think about that?
Misconceptions hold quite a part of our lives. You can’t get enlightened in one day. It isn’t like a dream that changes your life. There are a good amount of experiences that are involved.
To learn & find out what you like & what you can do – try learning something from everything you do. Even if you just watch a movie, you can find something inspiring in it.
Music is my inspiration. People might find it crazy but I have spent the last 5 years reading and learning a lot from lyrics.
Since we know how you got started, what guidance would you give to a noob? Is web-building a thing for everyone or you have to be ‘born with it’?
First, I have stopped using the terms web developer / designer. I call it web building as it holds more water. We are all building the web.
It is easy for anyone to learn web building. But I personally feel that one needs aptitude for the web. You not only need to know what to use and how but there is so much more. Intuition and lots of research is involved. Intuition continues to develop as we keep on experimenting but research is not easy. One needs to put themselves in user’s shoes to build something that people want.
The only way to know if you have the aptitude for the web is by actually giving it a shot. No one can know whether they can cook well without actually giving it a shot.
Let’s say someone who wants to build websites, where should they get started?
It’s very easy to make websites. Within a week, anyone can begin to make average websites. All you need to know is HTML and CSS. That’s for static websites.
Occasionally, for dynamic websites, you might have to work with what is called a server-side scripting language like PHP.
Also, I would advice not to follow video tutorials. Video tutorials are like spoon-feeding. Instead, take out time to read articles, blogs and observe the web.
Are there any resources / books or classes where someone can get started to learn the basics of web-building (HTML / CSS)?
If you know basic HTML and CSS, I will suggest you try WordPress.
Harry Roberts has written a great resource on HTML and CSS. It’s called Web Design+.
If you do have any kind of doubts, head to Stack Overflow.
Taking the education thing forward, how is web-building as a career option? What is the ‘scope’ or ‘package’? And a much deeper question – what contribution does ‘building the web’ make in the world?
Web-building is my passion. I have never thought of it as a career option; it is a way of life.
Yes, one can make a career out of it like many others. But it is an utter waste of time if you don’t have the passion and the zeal to work.
The scope is immense and you can expect a package of almost any amount you can think of but all of that comes down to one thing – dedication.
For me, it is about an open society. Something I term as One Web, where the whole web community is united. There are no differences between which tools we will be using and everyone will be openly contributing to the world.
Our internet lives are getting intertwined with our real lives.
The people who we occasionally mention on twitter are the ones we are meeting at conferences. The ideas we discuss are coming to the world. Who thought that one could send a postcard to someone living in another part of the world by just an email. Web builders have made it possible.
We don’t just create web applications but we are the architects of the modern world.
Knowing Indian families to be risk-averse, how well does your family support you? Has there been some conflicts of views?
Most parents worry about their children going into fields other than engineering and medical. This mentality needs to change, otherwise, we won’t ever be able to contribute to the rest of the web at the same rate as the others are doing.
My family has always been supportive. I give my father the credit for my present skills. I still remember telling my father that I didn’t like mechanical engineering and he said, “I am sure you will definitely go into the IT sector.”
Often, when parents don’t understand what they are doing online, they scuff it off as ‘wasting time’ or worse ‘watching porn’.
What do you suggest to your fellow web-builders when it comes to handling their parent’s, often irrational, approach to building career on the web? Most of them would rather have their kids get a stable and ‘real’ job than risk their lives being next Zuckerberg or Jobs.
Now, we are getting to real things. Yes, parents often feel that their kids are just wasting time.
But the amount on information available on the web is amazing. Keep wondering about anything and just search it once. Even if you don’t find the exact thing, you will find someone else who was also looking for the same thing.
If you show them what all you can do with the web, they might get impressed. Show them some awesome CSS demos, some great web projects like 3 Dreams of Black. I am sure something like this is going to make your parents fall for the web.
Show them that the web community is indeed very strong and supportive. Stack Overflow and Forrst are great examples to support this. Tell them about WordCamp, Drupal Camps, PHP Camps and conferences.
You should be able to convince your parents if you are passionate enough. If you love the web enough, then petty things like stable and real jobs don’t mean a thing.
As a web-builder, could you share some projects you are working on or have worked on in the past?
Love the fact that you are referring to me as web-builder!
I am currently working with a start-up and our app will be coming out soon. Can’t disclose more about it right now.
E-Dorado is an online treasure hunt which reached a record of more than 1100 registrations on it. You can still go register and play. E-Dorado is a part of my college’s national annual technical festival Quark.
I used Codeigniter as my PHP framework and Bootstrap, for Twitter to speed up my work. It took me 4 hours to have the basic interface ready.
The TEDxBITSGoa 2012 website is built on WordPress. It was a relatively small project but interesting enough as it was the first time that I worked with custom pages and archives.
And lastly Igniteplate is a something of my own creation. I always felt the need of a starter kit for my projects on Codeigniter. So, I decided to build one. It includes a registration, login and user management system. I will add Facebook and Twitter sign-ups in future.
Given a choice between a hot girlfriend and a real hard web-building problem, what would you chose?
I shall take the problem. [Doesn't give any reason]
Any final advice you’d like to give to our readers?
Read through a lot of blogs and follow what you love.
Off to you…
Got a question, comment or a threat of Aniket Pant (or us)? The comments section below is all yours. Let’s hear from you.
Thanks to Manav & Prajjwal for proof-reading the drafts.
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