My journey from Coding Noob to Coding Expert.

There are two things wrong with that headline. Only two?
Already I am writing clickbaity headlines for a programing blog, I just can’t help myself.

Here’s the thing, I feel I am only just getting started and so certainly am not an expert, but I’m not really a noob.
I started to learn to code in 1981, in BASIC on a Commodore Vic20 with 3.5k. I didn’t  get past a simple GOSUB “Hello World” and spent most of my time copying game code from magazines. At the time that is what you did.

Forwards to 1998 and a friend and I set up a website, it was a stock market game with celebrities in the news rather than companies. He did all the coding, I did everything else. Php 3, Mysql, a bit of javascript and even some PERL. The site ran just fine, I tried to keep up with the coding and learn, but I got into managing the site, building content and SEO. I had a spin off site which was getting 30k visits a day through SEO work.

The site eventually crashed and burned, my partner and I parted coding pathways and I delved into the art of content marketing, SEO and then social media.

I have got by in my web dev career by learning coding to the “just need to know”, level. This involved plugging in pre-written scripts with no real modification. Mostly PHP, a bit of javascript, lots of WordPress sites and plugins, but no real code learning.

Around 2008 I decided I wanted to learn php, so read a few books the size of large house bricks, tinkered around, got distracted and moved on. At the time I was doing major consultation on content marketing for the biggest companies around so I had not commercial need to learn to code.

Around 2015 I wanted to get into to game creation, which is something I have always wanted to get into right from the beginning. I now realise this is the route most interested people like myself take. But of course coding games and playing games are two different mindsets. I bought a book on learning Unity, it seemed learning a game engine was the way to go. I got pretty far in the book, but again got distracted with client work and the gaming industry is probably the hardest to break into as most coders head there like herds of starving beasts to the feeding trough.

Fast forward to this Christmas. Burnt out with content marketing, although still have enough SEO and general online marketing skills to help clients. So decide to have another run at becoming an expert coder.

This time I stick with what I know, which is the web. Mostly front end, but in reality Full Stack. I aim my sights at Javascript, read a few books, watch a lot of videos.

I find things have changed a lot since 1981, no duh. Actually, things have changed a lot since 2015, even 2017.

Frameworks, or libraries (take your pick, most seem to interchange the term) seem to come in and out of fashion with quick regularity. Last time I looked it was all Ruby on Rails, now it’s Laravel, Vue2, React, Nodejs…etc.

Not only that, there are things like Webpack, NPM, Markdown, Bootstrap (this one is cool), Gatsby,  Yarn, Babel, CamanJS…etc. It seems to go on forever, and depending on who you talk to depends on which is the must set of stuff you should go for.

After investigation, Vanilla Javascript is my main focus, which means just plain javascript, I guess vanilla sounds cooler than, plain.

The plan as it stands.
Learning Vanilla Javascript to a professional level. Professional means I can look at any code and not have my head explode and be able to sell javascript services to the highest bidder. Having someone hand you cash to do something is sometimes the best metric to know you have arrived.

Primary skill I have set out to learn:

Vanilla Javascript

Secondary skills:

Vue2
Php
HTML/CSS
Bootstrap

Vue2 is the javascript library I am going to focus most on. It’s lightweight and quick to deploy, React is more popular but is more clunky to deploy.

Php seems to be falling out of favour to Node.js. But for server side it’s still popular. WordPress is in php and is my main CMS. It’s now on version 7, so I am hoping things have improved a lot, it was never elegant, but with frameworks like Laravel it may be more easy to work with.

HTML/CSS, although I am not a noob in these areas I do need holes filling in. I should be able to put a sophisticated front end together, but don’t have the organisational skills, I only know bits.

Bootstrap is a lot of fun. A HTML/CSS library it makes throwing up responsive web pages quick and easy. Flexibox is also something I need to add.

And the rest

Animate.css is very interesting as I want to create animated infographics.
Node.js, running javascript could be very interesting as I am learning vanilla javascript. It could be a replacement for php, I need to learn more on this before I can commit.
Visual Studio, not a language but a code editor. I have finally ditched Dreamweaver (ugh, the bloat) and am going text only. VS is great and with a ton of plugins.
AWS, Firebase, MongoDB…etc. I want to go as cloud based as I can and I want to scale as easy as I can. Also try out other databases than MySQL

Conclusion

Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.

Winston Churchill

I’ve probably failed at learning to code than anything else I have tried. But I keep at it, and will till I get it.