Coding Bootcamp - Week 7

This week I developed a renewed appreciation for all those front-end developers out there. Making sites work well from both a design and user experience perspective without a doubt requires significant attention to detail. Do you go for a 6px rounded border or 4px? Should the link change colour when you hover over it or should an underline appear? I like a yellow background but will users like it? I can imagine it can sometimes be a painstakingly slow process to reach an informed conclusion, especially if you take an engineering-led approach like Google (however at least this way your decisions are backed up by evidence).

Kitchen sink included…

This week wasn’t necessarily difficult in terms of theory, but in only five days we covered a wide range of front end topics - javascript, Ajax, JQuery and advanced CSS techniques - not to mention making ‘mashups’ or working with API’s. Our Friday test saw us recreating Twitter (the front end) which along with the usual HTML/CSS also included some trendy JQuery magic such as ‘infinite scroll’ (I noted there is an interesting blog here citing reasons why infinite scroll is not such a good thing when it comes to search engine optimisation).

The week left most of my fellow students divided on frontend development. Generally they were either getting super-hyped on JQuery animations or cursing and vowing to pursue careers in back-end development. I was right in the middle. I have grown fond of 8th Light’s concept of a ‘special generalist’ software developer (see my last blog entry), sometimes this is known as full-stack. I think having a decent knowledge of the front end and back end can only be a good thing in the early stages of my software development journey.

Twitter, meet Twilio…

The other major highlight of the week was a master class with the crew from Twilio. Twilio is a great piece of kit that allows you to hook up your software with the mobile network. This was our first deep dive into APIs (getting different bits of software tolking to each other). We created a simple, but cool little app that linked Twilio with Twitter. You send a sms containing any hashtag to a number (supplied by Twilio) and you get the latest tweet sent back to you with that hashtag. So much cool stuff this week. My brain is doing sommersaults.

Written on April 8, 2014