Learning to Code: Day86 Update

When I started this blog I swore I was going to update it at least weekly, but the funny thing about learning to code is, it takes time.

It takes concentration. It takes making lists.

And it takes a commitment to actually doing it, coding, reading, practising.

It’s a strange thing, I guess like learning any language, but even if you miss a few days, you really can regress quite badly. So as I made the commitment to to do the #100DaysOfCodeChallenge I really wanted to make sure I did exactly that… code every day.

And, well, that made it hard to commit to tiem to blog! Plus it just seemed less important in the grand scheme of things. Surely, coding was more important?

Like all good blogs I started with so much enthusiasm to make it a compendium or tutorials and courses you could take online while learning to code, paving the way for others, a way to share what I learnt on my way.

Well I will try and do a bit of that but as I mentioned the actually coding part of of it has mostly consumed me on a daily basis, I have learned so much and as it draws to a final 100 Days (August 7 coincedentally) I wanted to recap on on what I have done, hopefully that will help me decide on what is most important to do over the next few weeks before I start BOOTCAMP.

Yep, after all this coding, the only thing to do was clearly, keep calm and keep coding. And so it was on the weekend just past actually, day 83 or 84, I got an email from Zac Gordon about his next JavaScript for WordPress bootcamp and it seemed to cover everything that I was missing so far, so I jumped in and joined up.

Online JavaScript Bootcamp with Zac Gordon
Zac’s latest Bootcamp should be cool.

It’s three intense months by the looks of it, but has a lot of support built in including direct access to Zac to ask questions, a Slack channel for Q&A and discussions with other students so I should be well covered in terms of support.

In the meantime, here is a bit of a recap for prosterity of the journey so far.


WPMU DEV Academy – Beginner to Advanced Certificates

This was where I started at the beginning of this year and it was great, and I powered through but I felt a bit lost at the end of it, like I knew stuff, but I didn’t know how to execute, build or create anything, entirely not the fault of the course content. 

WPMU Dev Academy

I also took Daniel Pataki’s course on JavaScript for WordPress, but I think at the time, this was right back at the beginning of the year it was too advanced for me and I didn’t grasp the concepts.I had planned on going back to it at some point, but now I am taking your bootcamp that probably isn’t going to be necessary ;P

After that I found this course:

Udemy – Become a WordPress Developer with Brad Schiff

– and built this theme (twice actually): 
— BUT the JavaScript has proven tricky and the lecturer Brad wasn’t around to answer Q&A so I never really got the full features working on that demo.

The ‘Fictional University’ WordPress Theme you build with Brad in this course.

Have had better luck with the second demo of that same theme (sorry no demo uploaded yet, still a WIP), and I got my Live Search  working which was a real breakthrough, but I have had real trouble with scripts-bundled.js file and my workflow… I couldn’t get Gulp Scripts or Gulp Watch working so I think there is a problem with how the scripts are enqueued or bundled – I am just not sure and again, no lecturer…grrrr. 

Along the way though there has been advantages to working this stuff out for myself.

 CodeKit takes all the hassle out of running a dev environment, takes a bit of configuration but once you do that (which is waaaay easier than NPM stuff) you can’t go past it.

For instance, a Tweep  introduced me to this great workflow app for Mac called CodeKit, which is now part of my workflow and it is great but I am still having trouble with the way JS is complied or transpiled (I believe the terminology is).

The Brad Schiff course on Udemy is excellent, but there is NO feedback or response from him to Q&A whatsoever which makes it VERY hard.

So, if I update my Scripts.js file, or Search.js etc… and then hit save, I can see CodeKit transpiles the lot and refreshes my browser in my local dev environment, but often the changes aren’t updated.

I debugged the hell out of it and found that there was something wrong, or some differences in the scripts-bundled.js files we started with and the versions in Brad’s code examples after each lessons, so I copy/pasted his scripts-bundled.js over onto mine and SHAZAM! Stuff worked.

On my second try and I switched out the content to a municipal style Town Theme, it was a good challenge but I messed up the relationships between the Advanced Custom Themes and the Custom Post Types. Still more work to do.

But it is frustrating to not know WHY. It also isn’t a good way for me to progress in the future with my own projects. 

Become a WordPress Developer and Unlock the Power of Code

Watch & Code

I have also taken the Watch & Code free course with Gordon Zhu, and I have completed 25% of his premium course as well – and while it was a game changer in some sense, I can’t recommend highly enough that you take the free course if you have an interest in programming because what Gordon does so well is take you on a journey.

He teaches you think like a programmer. He teaches you how to think critically, how to ask good questions and how to use the most important tools you are going to need on your journey…. the Debugger. You need to be able to break your code, and then fix it, and the Debugger is almost as critical as your text editor, if not moreso. It really is critical.

I did find that recently I lost interest a bit in the Premium because it wasn’t teaching what I wanted to learn – so I couldn’t apply my learnings to developing Themes, and I did get a bit bogged down in the process but that was the paid Premium stuff. 

Commenting code in English is a really great practise that Gordon teaches.

I’m definitely circling back to this course in the future though, because Gordon has a very unique way of teaching and it really helped cement some great practises into my approach and all up I think I probably learnt the most I’ve learnt all  up from his free course.

Big thumbs up Gordon, I’ll be back.

Watch & Code

Zac Gordon’s Bootcamp

I have also completed Zac’s free JavaScript Languages Basics course which was a breeze, more of a recap of what I already knew, but it was a good intro and a teaser for how the rest of his courses might go. Free is always good 🙂

freeCodeCamp

And of course I have done quite a good chunk of the freeCodeCamp tutorials. Twice even – lol! I haven’t finished the Javascript stuff yet, but to be honest I feel like they are a bit of fun more than proper hardcore tutorials, I do it to practise using Git and and so that I am coding every day to build my comprehension more than anything.

The first fCC projects

This simple YouTube was a real game changer too. Silly that I didn’t do it from the get-go really, and if you are reading this and not sure where to begin, trust me, start with a GitHub profile and learn how to use Git via Terminal and push all of your lessons to GitHub for posterity. Also, check out a few Code Editors and just stick with one. Over time my preferences has turned into fanaticism for Visual Studio Code.

It’s a short video, teaches you all of the basic commands in a very easy to follow and practical way and once you start, if you like gaming or you’re anything like me and you’ll be hooked on pushing updates daily to see that contribution chart all lit up green like a boss.

My Workflow

Again, wish I knew more about this before I started faffing about but I think you just have to when you start out…. but this is bedded down now so a little bit about the tools I have setup for my dev environment.

My workflow tools include Local by FlyWheel for my WP dev environment, and CodeKit instead of gulp, bower or webpack which I just don’t understand…. and as mentioned previously I have fallen madly in love with Visual Studio Code for my text editor – and I use the built in Terminal daily to send all my files up to GitHub via Git, although this is fairly new to me. 

Local By Flywheel is awesome. No need to create databases of fire up Apached blah blah… just make stuff with WordPress, how good is that?

You’re welcome to check out my GitHub profile and take a look at the Repositories if you are new to this and you might get an idea on how to start your own. Alternatively, if you know more than the basics, please suggest ways I can improve!

What Next?

I’m currently still working on my BHAG idea about a Theme to build with some freelancers. So far I have a few PSD designs and I am trying to pickup how to convert those into HTML/CSS  and eventually WordPress, so I have bitten off quite a bit this year… and there is so far to go!

Just a little something something I’m working on 😛

It feels like I have gone ten steps forward and five backwards with this stuff, I think I know what I need to learn, go ahead and learn some stuff then discover I need to go back and learn something else…

At the moment I think I have decided that I will rely on Freelance designers for working with creating PSDs of my wireframes and ideas, then I will probably also rely on another designer/developer to slice them into HTML and I will do the conversion to WordPress. It’s a tricky slippery slope but one I am determined to conquer.

I’m addicted to scribbling up layouts on Sketchize grid paper.

Until next time. Code hard or code at home.

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