All These Things

Sunday 08 January 2017 · 3 min read

Leveling Up

One of the things I want to accomplish with Findom is a return to basics. A return to basics to improve my skillset and broaden my understanding of technologies and methodologies. Most of the projects at work are built on top of a company theme/template. In my side projects, I’ve either grabbed Bootstrap or Foundation to get up and running quickly. And, of course, ol’ jQuery was there for simple animations or UI flourishes.

However, over the past few years, a lot has changed as far as front-end work goes. There are so many new tools, new languages, preprocessors, frameworks, rules, best practices…ugh, it’s enough to make me feel like a stranger in a strange land, lost amidst a sea of unfamiliar faces and a deep-seated fear that if I take a step, it will most certainly be in the wrong direction.

Even during my Aereo days, I was in awe with the work the front-end team was doing. I could feel myself falling behind in the front-end world (which was fine because I am primarily a back-end programmer). Yet, I love learning, I love coding (even though there are days I hate the square, there isn’t another thing I’d rather do), and I needed to level-up.

I have found, and I think almost every programmer agrees, that to learn something new, you just jump in on a project. Findom was the project for me. I decided to write everything from scratch. No frameworks. No libraries. Plain ol’ vanilla programming. The latest release of languages and tools. I originally started with Go, since it’s a language I’ve wanted to learn (plus, who doesn’t love their mascot?!), but decided that leveling up my JavaScript skills would be more beneficial to me in my every day work.

One of the hardest things, with learning new languages (or really, new anythings) is that you’ve got to use what you learn in order for it to stick. Writing front-end code in the morning hours before heading off to work to write back-end code doesn’t give much opportunity to practice. But, I was able to work on a few projects that used my new skills. And each morning usually brings a small success; just yesterday, I figured out how to set up Autoprefixer and Stylus with Webpack.

The thing I love and hate about programming is that you are never done learning. There isn’t an end where you can say, “Now I am an expert! Now I know all the things!” Instead, it is a constant battle to keep up with the latest. Or, even if you don’t want to keep up with the latest, learning the intricacies of your chosen language can take years. To hone the craft of code is both invigorating and infuriating.

After I publish this little post, I’m going to hop back into Findom. Today, I’m taking what I learned about Flexbox yesterday into improving the layout. A deliberate step each day. A habit to continuously learn, a way to push out of my comfort zone. A way to always be a beginner. To say “I don’t know” is a wondrous and lovely act. It’s a precursor for growth, for experience, for awareness.

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