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© Jacob Quirke 2020

  • Jake Quirke

9 Things I’ve Learned Since Starting My Journey Into Web Development

Last month I made the decision to fully to commit to becoming a web developer. What stack? The dream would be the full-hog. Is there anything better than having your finger in every pie? There’s no stack like full stack. So, with that dream in mind, I’ve devoted much of my free time to learning everything there is to know about web development.

I’ve started with the basics of the front end – HTML/CSS and JavaScript. Like so many things, your confidence starts strong when you believe it’s all pretty straightforward. That’s until you reach your first metaphorical boss battle within your studies. But like those psychopaths – myself included – that enjoy the punishment of games like Dark Souls, the only solution to bumps in the road to becoming a full stack developer, is to simply ‘git gud’. And on this journey, there are a few valuable things that I’ve learned – even in this short time – which I’d like to share with you.

Come with me and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination…

1. There’s no set path.

I started with what I knew. With previous experience in working in web development for Jaguar Land Rover, I do have a hefty amount of experience when it comes to HTML/CSS, content creation, wireframing, etc. But I never became fully invested in every avenue beyond the basics. Flash-forward to now and it makes sense to me that I start with the base of front-end development and, quite literally, work my way back.

But that doesn’t have to be the only root. Just looking on my Twitter feed, I can see so many people dedicated to the #100DaysOfCode leading very different journeys. It’s fascinating to watch and I look forward to actually enjoying the tasty treat of Cake PHP (whatever that means).

2. Free resources galore!

You’ve just paid £6000 – feel free to convert to your appropriate currency – for a BootCamp to become an expert in 12 weeks. That’s perfectly fine. If that’s the path you want to take then go for it. It was one that I genuinely considered until I realised just how many free resources there are out there:

- freeCodeCamp

- Khan Academy

- W3Schools

I really could carry on but you all know how Google works. The breadth of content out there is spectacular and you certainly won’t be bored. I know I’m not…yet.

3. Sleep is important

I was once a disciple of the likes of Jocko Willink – a man who wakes up at 4.30am every morning – and David Goggins. They were the type of people who motivated me to get stuff done. That worked, for a while. But there does come a time when you realise that you’ve been studying the same line of code for two hours and still don’t know what that curly brace is used for.

Sleep is important – 7-9 hours.You might believe that you can get more work done from the time you’re given. But it’s not just about how much time you have. It’s about how effectively you can use said time. Don’t work hard or long or fast. Work smart.

4. Advice is everywhere

The Web Dev community is fantastic. It’s far from toxic – from what I’ve encountered – and everyone is always happy to help. So whether you throw yourself into a forum or just peruse your Twitter feed, there’s always plenty of advice out there.

5. Support is everywhere

You heard what I said! This community is fantastic. Post a tweet with #100DaysOfCode and you’ll get more support than an automated bot whose sole purpose is to provide support.

6. The age of the podcast is here

It started years ago with Joe Rogan. I thought all podcasts were ways to learn about far-flung places, watch Elon Musk smoke a joint, debate moon landings (not a debate btw (we landed on the moon)) and listen to Joey Diaz share yet another vile story from his cocaine addiction days. No more. Podcasts have grown to such a degree you will be able to find one to match exactly what you’re interested in.

I listen to one to help improve my running, one to learn about history – thanks, Dan Carlin – and now I’ve been introduced to the greatest of them all – Web Dev podcasts. You’re spoiled for choice but the ones I’ve been enjoying include:

- Syntax

- Developer Tea

- Web Dev 101

7. One letter can break EVERYTHING

Who knew typing ‘getElementByClass’ instead of ‘getElementsByClass’ could ruin everything? And don’t get me started on case sensitivity. It’s wonderful. It may be frustrating finding those pesky bugs but when something works, you know it works. There’s no debate about it. The code is there and if it’s wrong, it's wrong. If It’s right, it’s right. Bliss.

8. I love acronyms

Ever heard of JAMstack? It stands for JavaScript, APIs and Markup. I used to work as an English and Media Studies teacher so I certainly know my way around an acronym. But the tech industry take theirs to the next level! The acronyms have acronyms. It’s like being in a dated Xzibit meme.

What a time to be alive!

9. Deep Dives

When you first learn to layout a full blog post using floats, you feel powerful. But then you learn about flexbox, and then GRIDS! There are so many directions to go into and there are so many depths to be diving down towards. I’ve become lost in topics that start simple, like h1, h2 and h3 tags. They become a whole lot more complicated when throwing SEO, accessibility and design into the mix.

I knew web development is the place to be when realising just how much there is to know. I’ll be kept busy for years to only realise that even more has been released that I need to catch up on. I’m spoiled for choice and have so many areas to really get stuck into it!

Why end on 9? Well, because there’s something very satisfying about ending on an imperfect cadence. Like the Sopranos, No Country for Old Men and -