A long swim in a vast ocean 🌊 🐚 🦈 🦑
That is how I jumped into the ocean of programming.
Maybe a month later - at FreeCodeCamp - I learned some HTML and CSS. Enough to build a small web page. For the challenge part of the curriculum - after a guided tutorial - the assignment was to build a single page tribute website - the subject being someone living or dead - famous or unknown.
Next came learning the basics of programming in Python.
I had read somewhere that Python was a good language for people first learning programming.
Eventually, the frustration with Python wore off and I decided to give it another chance.
This went on for several months - a time which included learning some Bash - as well as Git and GitHub.
I had no idea what kind of programming I wanted to focus on.
The world of programming is huge - and I knew so little.
I had an idea that I wanted to learn the craft - for a variety of reasons including:
- To make a better living
- To find work that I could truly grow with
- To have more and better professional opportunities
I wanted work that I enjoyed and that offered me satisfaction - including the ability to do it anywhere in the world and at basically any age.
My job at the time was not offering me those things. And I knew that I enjoyed programming - difficult as it was.
Figuring out what would be my focus - the part of the vastness I would truly master - was like asking: “Which neighborhood in Paris would you like to live in?”
I have never been to Paris. I speak two or three words in French. I do not have any friends living in France. I have no freakin’ clue about which neighborhood suits me.
I still don’t, actually 😉
Programming was like that for me for quite some time.
I just kept cruising neighborhoods, talking with people in each one, reading a lot about what I was seeing, checking everything out.
Eventually, after two years or so, I settled on the arrondissement or district of web development. I was narrowing it down - albeit slowly.
More recently, I narrowed my vision down even further to the frontend of the stack. That is where I get the most joy and sense of accomplishment when I complete a task. For now, anyway. I am always open to evolving. But for now, I call myself a frontend web developer - and I happy to be focusing on that side of things 😄
Closer to DRY land 🏖 🙏
I wrote my first lines of React in a coding bootcamp - but I did not fall in love with it until after bootcamp. My own experience in bootcamp was that it was such a fast paced, stressful environment ( particularly at the beginning of the COVID 19 pandemic ) that I felt we only had time to go into the surface of the React library and ecosystem - during the few weeks we worked with it.
Like Vim, React has a pretty steep learning curve in the beginning, in my experience. We spent several hours on Day 1 learning class based components - and I spent that evening practicing class based component syntax and trying to grasp component lifecycle methods - then we immediately switched to hooks and function based components on Day 2. What made it even harder is that I did not have experience with ES6 Object and Array destructuring or with ES6 module syntax.
Learning React without a solid base of understanding for object destructuring or module imports and exports is like scuba diving at night without a light 😨
TIPS FOR PEOPLE ENTERING CODING BOOTCAMP:
Also, I would have been well served to have become familiar with Promises and async code.
It got better 🤟🏼
Post bootcamp, though, I am head over heels in love with React 💕
And I am making it my home for the foreseeable future 🏡
React is a wonderful library. And the community that has built up around it is brilliant and full of energy.
Commiting myself to the React ecosystem ( including Next.js, Gatsby, and the incredible number of libraries that have been built around the concept of the React component ) is like finally being able to stand up in the water of a island beach and walk toward the shore.
And this island has beautiful things on it. It has natural resources with which I can build all sorts of wonderful and practical creations with.
I am far from alone on this island.
Which, to me at this point in my journey as a developer, is very comforting. Especially after having been swimming in a huge ocean for a long time prior to touching sand.
Some Good Neighbors 🎉
The React ecosystem has amazing creators contributing to it on a daily basis.
In no particular order:
These are just a few well known, accomplished and influential participants.
But there are many, many more - and many satisfying moments to be had.
There are some amazing resources out there to thoroughly learn React.
Including Kent C Dodd’s Epic React course - which I am currently working through and about which I will have far more to write about in future blog posts.
Glad to Be Home 🙏
Every programmer should eventually find the things that they want to dive deep into and become expert in. The ocean of knowledge is just too vast not to.
I have no doubt they are wonderful, also, and maybe I will devote time to learning and using them in the future - particularly if I am employed by a company that is commited to them.
But for now I am going to stay on the island I am currently on and really take advantage of the dry land.
A programmer has to find their focus and walk on sand eventually 🏝️ 🚶🏼
I have learned, perhaps the hard way, that I certainly do 🙂