7 days in

It’s Friday night and I’m sat at home, coding – the kids (and their father) are in bed and I’m sat at my computer putting the finishing touches to my first project. It’s a simple Tribute page built using only Bootstrap (something which I didn’t even know existed this time last week).

I spent the first couple of days trying to figure out how to get started – the great thing about the web is there are so many free resources available to learn how to programme, but the bad thing is there are so many free resources available to learn how to programme. I am quite methodical in my approach to things, I like to see my options, evaluate them and put them into an actionable plan (if possible within a colour-coded, bullet-pointed, table format).

I did also consider a variety of paid courses in my initial evaluation but for now I would like to see how far I can get with the free stuff.

I chose to begin with Free Code Camp because unlike some of the others it includes Javascript in its curriculum, which I personally think would be useful for me to learn, I also like the idea of collaborating on real code for Non-profits later on, and on a practical note they have a MeetUp group in my city.

I have also signed up with Typing Club to work on my touch typing skills and to Skillcrush’s 10 day bootcamp (a series of 10 emails explaining some of the jargon) because I like their straight-forward way of explaining things. There were also various articles, videos etc I consulted in the first few days which gave out some good advice which I’ll share in a separate blog post soon.

This week has been about getting to grips with the basics, and the first thing I have discovered about coding is that I love how instant it is. There is something incredibly satisfying about typing a few lines of code and seeing almost instantly how that affects what you are building. I also love just playing around and experimenting to see if I can ‘invent’ code – by this I mean taking the code I’ve just learnt and seeing how I can modify it and seeing what the outcome is.

This week has been all about CSS, HTML and Bootstrap and I was pleasantly surprised how much ‘real English’ it contains, which makes it a lot easier to uncover its possibilities. For example, if we know that border-style: solid; gives us a solid border then you can simply use your imagination to think of other possible adjectives which might work to create different border styles (I discovered that ‘dashed’, ‘dotted’ and ‘double’ are all recognised in CSS).

A big part of the course so far has also been setting you up as a developer – things like getting a Github account (used a lot like the Facebook or Google+ of the coding world as you can use this account to log onto a load of other useful sites), joining specific chatrooms, learning where (and how) to look for help, and generally helping you get settled into the Free Code Camp community.

At the moment the level is perfectly understandable, there are things I forget and have to check back in my notes for, or get muddled with when it comes to knowing when to use #, . ; {} etc. and silly typos which have had me frowning at my screen – but the helpful bunch in the Gitter chatroom are great at detecting your silly mistakes when you can’t.

My highlight for the week has to be when I managed to help a fellow camper (yep, that’s what they call us!) solve a problem she was having with her code. It was a pretty small thing but it felt like a huge victory. They encourage you to participate in the chatrooms a lot and even just reading the conversations is a good way to learn. I had helped out a few people with their typos (at this stage its amazing how much a misplaced / or a . instead of a – can be hard to detect in your own work so it’s really helpful having another pair of eyes look at your code) but I didn’t expect to be able to actually give any useful suggestions for making code work.

All in all I feel it’s been a very productive first week and I’m excited to get on with the next project. Though that will have to wait till tomorrow, I’m off to charge my batteries (and my computer). Night night .addClass(“animated fadeOut”);









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