Forget fCC, I’m using Treehouse

If you read my last blog post, you understood my enthusiasm for jumping back into coding, after a busy 6 week project with my day job.

I opened up fCC immediately after publishing that post. I went to the next lesson where I had left of previously. I read it. I couldn’t understand what they were even asking me to do. And, they didn’t tell me how to do it either, but told me to “Read. Search. Ask.”

About 30 seconds in to my return to coding, I was bawling. All the frustration I’ve felt about coding and getting stuck and “Why won’t someone just TEACH me???” came flooding back. Must faster and stronger than I expected to be honest.

After a heartfelt phone call with my friend Heath (who has always been my go-to support person, for both IT and personal support), I realized that fCC just wasn’t working for me.

I realized that while fCC obviously has worked great for some people, it just doesn’t jibe with my learning style — and that’s okay.

This whole time I’ve felt that fCC was such an inefficient and round-about way to learn, because it’s so self-directed. I would spend hours googling how to solve something, reading forums, and trying my best to learn and understand. But the problem with reading forums is that many of the answers are given by well-intentioned newbies not much farther along than myself. And what I found was that after reading their input, assuming they knew what they were talking about, wrapping my head around it, and then implementing it into my code, only to get an error message and discover that they actually didn’t know what they were talking about… what a waste of time. I would end up feeling not only defeated and lied to (albeit innocently and unintentionally), but I also felt like I was wasting my precious time on misinformation.

I had been working 6 days a week and what little time I had to devote to learning to code was largely being wasted.

So, while crying on the phone with Heath, I still had enough of a glimmer of hope and confidence in my capability, to think that maybe all it takes for me to succeed is switching to a different style of learning. And so, I started a 7 day free trial of Treehouse.

And so far I love it. It’s exactly what I had thought and hoped fCC would be but wasn’t. I am soaring through the lessons and feeling not only confident but I’m actually learning the concepts solidly and I feel really confident in my foundation of knowledge now. For me, making the switch from fCC to Treehouse has made all the difference. Thank god.

With renewed hope,

Brianna

What goes on at an fCC meetup

Today I went to my first freeCodeCamp meetup, and it was great! We met at our local collaborative working space, and sat in the conference room. The Colab had tea and coffee available for us so that was a nice perk, too. It was stormy out today, and with the windows open we had a pleasant breeze and background rain to listen to.

We chatted a bit about why each of us is interested in learning to code, and about the various benefits for future job potential. Then we did a couple pomodoros of individual work on freeCodeCamp. I started the Javascript section and got a bunch done! I haven’t worked using pomodoros in awhile, and it was nice to be that focused.

On breaks, we shares updates about which sections we had just been working on, and asked for help if we needed it. We were all at different points in the course, so some stuff we talked about I could relate to as I’d already done it, and other stuff was a glimpse at the upcoming sections for me. It was cool to see each others’ progress and just to know that there are other people in my town who are doing the same course as me. It definitely motivated me to keep going!

And on that note, off I go!

keepinitreal
The Colab keepin’ it real

 

 

Bootstrap: a conversion story

bootstrap

Well that was fast! I just finished the Responsive Design with Bootstrap section on freeCodeCamp and I had to double check that I actually completed all the lessons.

Let me tell you, Bootstrap is super easy to use! It’s so intuitive and simple. It’s great! It also offers some really cool stuff.

Things that were new to me:

Wells. You can give a div a class of “well” and it gives it a look like there’s depth to the div. Super fast styling!

Font Awesome. Font Awesome is a library of icons that you can add to buttons (things like a thumbs up, or a cute little paper airplane for submit buttons). All you do is add Font Awesome to the top of your HTML and bam, you have access to the library.

paper airplane

Things that were not new to me:

The general concept of responsive design. I’ve been doing that for awhile already and after a long time of NOT doing it that way… let’s just say I would never, ever go back.

grid layout

Creating divs with class “row” and using a grid. I’ve been using Foundation, not Bootstrap, for the last few years. That just happened to be the responsive framework I chose to learn, and I liked it so I always used it. But I like Bootstrap and that seems to have a few more features and also it seems to be the trend, so thanks to this section in freeCodeCamp, I’ve now converted.

That’s all for this week! Happy coding, friends.

The first five hours

The first week of something new is always exciting. So let’s just jump right in to what I want to share about my experiences so far with freeCodeCamp.

By the way, if you missed last week’s post, I shared a bit about my past design experience which led me to this point.

Brownies have always been a favorite of mine…

I love this brownie points system. I love anything gamified. It totally works on me. I love seeing my brownie points rack up and I especially love that a friend of mine has 122 and I only have 37 at the time of this writing. That type of competition pushes me so far forward and I just KNOW I am going to catch up to him and surpass him. I can’t wait.

I love how short the lessons are. They are literally one page. And some of them are so quick, it’s hardly a new lesson. FCC really takes to heart the idea of small, simple steps leading to greatness.

mountain man

As I mentioned in my first post, I already had some design experience, so the HTML and CSS isn’t new for me here. It’s serving as a great review source though.

Other courses I’ve done (without naming names) have started at the top of an HTML document, teaching you the DOCTYPE before learning what a tag is. After DOCTYPE, you learn how to link CSS, without knowing what CSS is. By the time you get through meta tags and into the body, you’re questioning why you wanted to code in the first place.

I appreciate that these lessons start and end with the basics. They leave out the nonsense and get you typing out code that has a visual effect you can see in real time.

hex code chart
How many times have we seen this chart?

Also, I’ve always loved hex codes. When I got to that lesson (and remembered that hex codes were a thing), I felt this happy nostalgia. I think because back when I first learned HTML back when I was like 11, I had so much fun playing around with the colors. I’ve always just really, really liked hex codes. Sounds silly, but in the chance that a reader out there has as irrational a fondness as I do, I wanted to mention it!

And on that note, who else learned HTML from Neopets?

Looking forward to the lesson on Bootstrap next. I’ve always been a Foundation girl myself.

Cheers.

Hello, handsome new blog!

Greetings, readers! And welcome to my web development blog.

I’m one week in to freeCodeCamp and I’m really excited to share my thoughts with you so far. But first, I figure I should catch you up with where I’ve been and how I’ve gotten to this point.

I started learning HTML back in the early 2000s. Then I added some coding and some photoshop in there. But it was all just hobby stuff. It wasn’t until about 2009 that a friend came into the bar where I was bartending and asked me if I’d ever thought about doing web design. It was this conversation that I credit to starting me down the road as a professional web developer.

I did freelance here and there for awhile, but struggled a lot, being self taught and having gaps in my knowledge. I was so eager to start making money that I decided to forgo devoting time to learning, and just jump right in with client work. That went okay, but it was insanely frustrating coming up against roadblocks and needing outside help to solve them. Finally, the frustration was too much for me and I stopped designing altogether.

Fast forward to this year, which I’ve spent working as a teacher’s assistant in a Montessori preschool. It has been incredibly fun, exciting, fascinating, adorable, hilarious, and hug-filled. But I’ve also gotten sick five times in eight months, I’m exhausted, and I’m just not earning enough to be where I want to be in terms of my financial future. So with a lot of hesitation, I think this will be my last year. And back to web development it is.

I’ve always had a lot of fear around web work. A lot of worry and shame and fear of failure. A lot of frustration, too, and anger and resentment. But all of that is because I didn’t do it right the first time around. I put myself out there before I was ready. I needed a stronger foundation of skills – more than just a strong knowledge of HTML and CSS. That isn’t enough anymore. A designer needs to be a developer these days. And she needs to know how to code.

So this time, while the fear of failure is still very much there, and the memories of the seemingly impossible bugs to fix are still fresh in my mind… I feel at the same time relatively at ease about the endeavor. Because I know it will be better this time. My approach will be all different. My mentality will be all different. And hopefully, my results will be very different.

old way vs new way

The old way was the reason I struggled so much. I put so much pressure on myself to be a successful web designer, without nourishing myself — neither in terms of growing my knowledge and skillset, nor in terms of my personal life and keeping a healthy work-life balance.

The new way is the reason I will succeed. I will have patience. I will respect myself no matter what. And I will remember that if I keep learning, I will keep improving. And with improvement comes new opportunities. And opportunities lead to success.

And that’s why I’m so excited about freeCodeCamp. Stay tuned for the next post where I’ll share with you all my thoughts on the first week!