JavaScript and Bootcamp

3/6/17

I’ve made a lot of progress in the last 37 days! This could easily turn into a novel, but I’ll attempt to keep things concise. In a nutshell though, I continued to review and refresh topics I was already familiar with, going into February, and then eventually getting into JavaScript around the end of February. I am now deep into uncharted territory, as far as my skillset goes. I’m now learning something new each time I work on a new lesson. This is my first time taking a structured JavaScript course. The only exposure to JS that I’ve had in the past has been completely self taught by means of copying existing code found online and tweaking it to meet my needs. And doing that takes a very long time because I have to research every little baby step along the way. So what ends up happening is I get the code to work, however, I don’t know exactly why it works nor do I understand each element of JS. Now though, I’m starting to understand it; and it’s fun! I’m really enjoying learning JavaScript so far.

I’ve got some other exciting things to mention as well. I’ll list them out now, in semi-chronological order.

  • At the beginning of February the course that I was working on at Codecademy was touching on the CSS selectors Display and Visibility. I learned about inline, inline-block, and none, and how they work in relation to the elements around them. I also learned about the difference between display: none and visibility: hidden. The former removes it from the page and hidden still leaves space reserved for the element on the webpage, although the content is not visible without checking the source code.
  • Around mid-February is when I started getting beyond my current knowledge of CSS. The selectors and properties that I was learning about were a little familiar to me but I didn’t fully understand them. Like, I had used them in my code before but I didn’t have a solid understanding about how exactly they worked. Such as pseudo-classes and how to target nested elements. I learned how I could target an element that was several Divs deep and I learned how to use the first-child and nth-child pseudo-classes. An all new topic for me was the CSS selector Box-Sizing. I learned how it could be changed so that a container’s dimensions aren’t changed when padding and margin values are added. Around that time I also did a deep dive into CSS positioning. Relative and Absolute had always confused me, but I have a good understanding of both now! This video (and part 2) helped me a lot!
  • Mid-February was a time when I was deeply contemplating my future. Getting a new job that pays well is really important to me. The pressure is weighing on me, so I was thinking about how I could step up my coding practice and what else I could do to improve my chances of getting a job. I thought of a couple things which I’ll be doing very soon: starting a YouTube channel as another avenue to track my progress and I’m going to buy a domain to use for my portfolio and resume.
  • I also made a decision to sign up for an online coding bootcamp. The free courses and cheaper self-pace courses weren’t going to cut it in the end. I looked at all the major ones and landed on Thinkful.com. I signed up about two weeks ago and I just had my first orientation video conference tonight. It went very well and so far I feel like I made an excellent decision. It’s a six month Full-Stack course. When I initially decided to go for a web developer job I was aiming for a Front-End position, but that has changed now. I am going to set my sights on learning the full stack*. It’s going to be a long difficult path but I am in high spirits right now and feeling very determined! *blog tagline updated from front-end to full-stack ; ).
  • When deciding which bootcamp to go with I had sent an email to Thinkful and the response I got was quite helpful. I wanted to know why they were teaching React when most of the other bootcamps were teaching Angular. They told me that in their research React had overcome Angular and they foresee it being more widely used in 2017. That was the first time I had heard anybody say that, and that was after reading several articles on the topic, and even watching a lot of YouTube videos about it too. I didn’t agree, to be honest. So I went to all the major online job boards and took a poll. Sure enough, he was right! Although Angular is still pretty hot in the Seattle area, React got more hits on almost all of the job sites. During my video call today I asked about using React with Node because I was under the impression most developers were using Node in the MEAN stack. That’s when I learned about MERN!
  • Around the same time I signed up for Thinkful, I also signed up at Slack and Codepen. Immersing myself in the coding community will be important moving forward. This needs to be my life for the next six months in order to be successful. I found another free website called FreeCodeCamp. It looks like a really great site. Not sure if I’ll use it though, because a majority of my time will be taken by Thinkful.
  • Back to some of the coding topics I’ve been learning. I dipped my feet into the JavaScript pool. I started with posting “Hello, World.” to the screen and now I’m learning about generating random numbers. In between, I learned about conditional if-else statements, switch cases, functions, loops, and global variables. I learned something about variables that I found interesting. Depending on how they are declared within a function can make a big difference. E.g. if I use “var”to declare a variable inside of a function then the variable remains local, but if I don’t use var, and the variable has not yet been introduced, then the variable becomes global. I think I got that right. I hope.
  • I added a new tool to my kit. I started using the built-in browser dev tools to troubleshoot my code. I don’t know how I’ve went this long without even checking it out. I guess maybe I assumed it would be too advanced for me to understand, but it’s been very helpful. I also downloaded Atom and Sublime. I’ll be checking those out very soon. I’ve been solely using Visual Studio Code so far.
  • In my past few entries I’ve shared some videos and articles. Let’s keep the tradition going! When I learned that I will be studying React instead of Angular, I decided to do some research. So here is one of the videos I watched; it’s Dan Abramov giving a presentation about Redux. Here’s an interesting article about vertical alignment using CSS. And last, here is a video that I found helpful. It’s about finding a web developer job if you don’t have experience.
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