Web Developer

Initial Thoughts: freeCodeCamp

The first career I’ve decided to explore is web development. Aside from acting, it’s the career on my list that I have the most experience with. As I mentioned in my previous post, I taught myself HTML a while back and have had an opportunity to actually use it a bit in my jobs.

Luckily, there are a lot of resources available to learn web development. For the last week and a half, I’ve been going through the lessons on freeCodeCamp. True to its name, this website offers thousands of small coding lessons 100% free.

The curriculum

Free Code Camp offers six overarching areas of study, or certification topics:

Certifications or areas of study on Free Code Camp
Six areas of study (or certifications) are available.

Each area of study is broken down into units:

Certifications on Free Code Camp are broken down into units
The number of units range from 2 to 9 for each certification topic.

 

The units can have as few as five lessons to upward of 60 lessons. Now, that may seem overwhelming, but the lessons are really short and just focus on one piece of code. For example, using the u tag to underline text is one single lesson and took 1-2 minutes to complete.

The final unit in each area of study is a list of projects.

The lessons

As I noted above, each lesson focuses on one small concept or piece of code, so they are really quick to get through. The lessons include an explanation of the code, and an interactive exercise.

Sample lesson - ordered lists
Directions for the exercise are included at the bottom of each lesson. You complete the exercise in the code editor in the middle and see the effects on the sample web page on the right.

Initial thoughts

I am about halfway through the first area of study, Responsive Web Design. Even though I already knew basic HTML, I still started from the very beginning, which was actually pretty helpful because I learned some HTML5 concepts that I didn’t know about previously.

I really like how the lessons are broken down, each focusing on one simple concept. It’s also helpful to have the interactive exercise for each lesson. Typing out the code (or in some cases, copying and pasting) and seeing how it functions, helps cement the concept a little better than just reading about it.

One thing I will note, however, is that the exercises are so prescriptive that you can get through them even if you don’t 100% understand the concept. So, for example, I’m still not completely clear how a bezier curve works, but it was easy enough to follow the directions of the exercise and copy and paste the code in order to pass the lesson. However, if I needed to create a specific speed and path of an animated movement using a bezier curve, I don’t think I’d know where to start. So for some lessons, I may need to do outside research to really understand the concept

Sample lesson - bezier curves
Huh? Some lessons include concepts that are a little more difficult to understand, but the exercises are still easy to complete.

 

The lessons and exercises are pretty easy to get through, but I have questioned whether or not I’ve actually retained the information in a way that I could complete a full project which requires the use of multiple concepts combined together. That’s why I’m glad each area of study ends with a unit of sample projects. I’m looking forward to getting to that section.

I would definitely recommend freeCodeCamp for anyone who is looking to just get a little taste of web development. It’s free and easy to get through, so the only cost is time.

Reflections

I’ve enjoyed going through these lessons, but I think it’ll take completing a full web project or two to determine whether or not I’d find this type of work fulfilling. So far, I really enjoyed the CSS unit and things to do with styling, which I guess speaks to my artistic background.

I can’t wait to get a good baseline of knowledge and test out my skills with a real project. Maybe I’ll finally set up my acting website …

I’ll report back when I’ve gotten through all the freeCodeCamp curriculum.

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