A workshop for codebar students: Build a portfolio or blog site | Charlotte Jackson, Front-end developer
Charlotte did a fantastic job putting this workshop together on the weekend. It was inspiring!
Phil’s write-up of teaching web development to beginners is immensely valuable in the run-up to the Codebar workshop that Charlotte is running this weekend. This bit gave both us a real “a-ha!” moment:
It only occurred to me at the end that I should have encouraged the students to try and fix each other’s bugs. If anyone had problems I’d go round and help people and often it’d be a little typo somewhere. Helping each other would acknowledge that this is entirely normal and that a second pair of eyes is often all that’s needed.
This looks like a great resource for beginners looking to learn HTML and CSS.
The joy of starting from scratch:
I remembered a really nice thing: how to be goofily, absurdly proud of myself for figuring something out, a kind of pride I usually reserve for my children. This is the best part of dropping back to zero. The list of things you have to master is endless. And when you get one right — even a little, tiny one — everyone notices and gives you an adult version of an extra candy in your lunchbox.
Here’s the full text of Charlotte’s fantastic short talk at the Dot York event last week. I’m so, so proud of her.
I’ve been thinking a lot about learning, teaching, mentoring, coaching …this article by Ivana McConnell from last year is packed with gold nuggets of wisdom concerning apprenticeships.
As lifelong learners, we may be reluctant to call ourselves “masters.” But that’s missing the point, and it discounts the fact that teaching is learning. We’re not there to guarantee mastery—we’re there to give our apprentices fundamentals, to foster their respect, and make journeymen (or women) out of them. Mastery will come; we just offer the tools.
I really love what Dan is doing with his apprenticeship programme—I hope we can do something like this at Clearleft.
Y’know, I think PPK might be on to something here. It’s certainly true that developers have such an eversion to solving a problem twice that some users end up paying the cost (like in the examples of progressive enhancement here).
I will be pondering upon this.
One of these days I’m going to step outside of my PHP comfort zone and actually build something in Node. One of these days. When I do, this book looks like a good place to start (and the online version is free).
Enduring CSS (not int the sense of “put up with” but in the sense of “long-lasting”) is a new book by Ben Frain all about writing and maintaining modular reusable CSS.
You can read the whole thing for free online or buy an eBook.
Y’know, all too often we’re caught up in the latest techniques and technologies. It’s easy to forget that there are people out there trying to learn this whole web thing from scratch. That’s why I think blog posts like this are so, so important!
Based on her experience teaching CSS at Codebar, Charlotte describes how she explains margins. Sounds simple, right? But is that because we’ve internalised this kind of thing? When was the last time we really thought about the basic building blocks of making websites?
Anyway, this is by far the best explanation of margin shorthand properties that I’ve seen.
More of this kind of thing, please!
An examination of how sites like The Session are meshing with older ideas of traditional Irish music:
There is a very interesting tension at play here – one that speaks directly to the design of new technologies. On the one hand, Irish musicians appear to be enthusiastically adopting digital media to establish a common repertoire of tunes, while on the other the actual performance of these tunes in a live session is governed by a strong etiquette that emphasizes the importance of playing by ear.
There’s an accompanying paper called Supporting Traditional Music-Making: Designing for Situated Discretion (PDF).
Codebar had a very good 2015.
Of the 137 workshops run, “100 of those workshops were organised by our two busiest chapters, London and Brighton”—50 each.
I love this. I really love this. Remy absolutely nails what makes the web so great.
There’s the ubiquity:
If the viewer is using the latest technology beefy desktop computer that’s great. Equally they could view the website from a work computer, something old and locked in using a browser called IE8.
Then there’s the low barrier to entry—yes, even today:
It’s the web’s simplicity. Born out of a need to connect documents. As much as that might have changed with the latest generation of developers who might tell you that it’s hard and complex (and they’re right), at the same time it is not complicated. It’s still beautifully simple.
Anyone can do it. Anyone can publish content to the web, be it as plain text, or simple HTML formed only of <p> tags or something more elaborate and refined. The web is unabashed of it’s content. Everything and anything goes.
I might just print this out and nail it to the wall.
If you sit back for a moment, and think about just how many lives you can touch simply by publishing something, anything, to the web, it’s utterly mind blowing.
It’s okay to feel stress in response to this rapid development. It’s natural. I hate change, I hate it so so much. I like things to be consistent and for it to have it’s own place. If it doesn’t, I get stressed and my obsessive compulsive tendencies run riot in a desperate attempt to preserve order. This both benefits and hinders my work.
Chimes very nicely with the latest episode of Ctrl+Click Cast.
Adam Onishi on teaching and learning:
As web developers, with the constant change in our industry, learning becomes a necessary part of our jobs. However with the right environment I think we can make that learning experience easier and actually a fun part of what we do.
Jake describes the pivotal moment of his web awakening:
I explored the world wide web. I was amazed by the freedom of information, how anyone could publish, anyone could read. Then I found a little button labeled “View source”. That was the moment I fell in love with the web.
It all goes back to having a ZX Spectrum apparently. Pah! Luxury! I had a ZX81—one K of RAM …1K! Tell that to the young people today, and they wouldn’t believe you.
Anyway, this is a lovely little reminiscence by Jake, although I have no idea why he hasn’t published it on his own site.
I got a little verklempt reading this.
This looks like a great resource for anyone setting out to learn how to make websites.
This seems like a decent endeavour:
A collaborative research project aimed at designing better tools and practices for learning web development.
This is superb!
Flexbox can be tricky to get your head around, but this exercise does a great job of walking you through each step in a fun way. I highly recommend trying all 24 levels.
Be willing to look like a dork:
Embarrassment about what others think has to be the biggest block to any learning. Embarrassment of looking silly. Embarrassment of looking stupid for asking the question everyone else is wondering about but no one is willing to make.
Chimes nicely with Charlotte’s recent piece, Be comfortable looking like an idiot.
You read a lot and like the idea of writing. You know the best way to get better at writing is to write, so write!
This is the best moment to write a blog post:
I just had my responsive images epiphany and I’m writing it all down before I forget everything.
Writing something down (and sharing it) while you’re still figuring it out is, in my opinion, more valuable than waiting until you’ve understood something completely—you’ll never quite regain that perspective on what it’s like to have beginner’s mind.
Following on from her great conversation with Jen on The Web Ahead podcast, Rachel outlines a strategy to avoid feeling overwhelmed by the deluge of tools, frameworks, libraries, and techniques inundating front-end developers every day:
Learn your core skills well. Understand HTML and CSS, be able to build a layout without leaning on a framework. Get a solid understanding of how a website actually gets from the server to a browser, an understanding of security and accessibility. These are the basics, the constants. These things change slowly. These things sit underneath all the complexity and the tooling, the CMSs and the noise of thousands of people all trying to make their mark on this industry.
She also makes this important point:
As you are doing this don’t forget to share what you know.
Every single word that Lyza has written here speaks to me so, so much.
I have no idea what I’m doing and I’m nervous about messing up, but I keep doing this week after week because it feels important.
Get out of my head, Lyza!
I felt a great swell of pride watching Charlotte give an excellent presentation at the Talk Web Design conference at Greenwich University.
Charlotte’s opening remarks at the most recent Codebar were, by all accounts, inspiring.
I was asked to give a short talk about my journey into coding and what advice I would give to people starting out.
Jo writes about hosting Codebar Brighton. I share her enthusiasm—it feels like a great honour to be able to host such a great community event.
Still a few days left to back this great project for Brighton:
Build, tinker, make and play! For anyone with imagination, The Brighton Makerlab lets ages 8 to 80 create cool stuff with technology.
A really handy interactive intro to flexbox. Playing around with the properties and immediately seeing the result is a real help.
Rushing doesn’t improve things, it might even slow you down. Focusing on a few things and doing them well is worthwhile. Sharing what you learn—even while you’re still figuring things out—is even better.
We hired Charlotte, our first junior developer at Clearleft recently, and my job has taken on more of a teaching role. I’m really enjoying it, but I have no idea what I’m doing, and I worry that I’m doing all the wrong things.
This article looks like it has some good, sensible advice …although I should probably check to see if Charlotte agrees.
Alan Kay’s written remarks to a Joint Hearing of the Science Committee and the Economic and Educational and Opportunites Committee in October 1995.
Bruce’s love letter to BASIC.
The closest I’ve ever come to that “a-ha!” moment I had when I first wrote something in BASIC was when I first wrote something in HTML.
This visual approach to demonstrating how CSS selectors work is really handy.
The transcript of Malarkey’s recent talk. Good thoughtful stuff.
Tom is running a Node School at 68 Middle Street on the evening of March 27th. I plan to attend and finally wrap my head around all this Node stuff.
This nifty place in Brighton is just down the street from me:
Our classes allow kids to get creative with exciting, cutting-edge technology and software.
Here’s a heartwarming tale. It starts out as a description of processing.js project for Code Club (which is already a great story) and then morphs into a description of how anyone can contribute to make a codebase better …resulting in a lovely pull request on Github.
This is the worst idea for a W3C community group ever. Come to think of it, it’s the worst idea for an idea ever.
Sit back, relax, and enjoy this classic documentary on graphic design, courtesy of its producer Edward Tufte.
Josh has been teaching HTML and CSS schoolkids. I love the pages that they’ve made. I really mean it. I genuinely think these are wonderful!
I concur with Ryan’s findings:
The best way to get better at what you do is to teach others how to do it, too.
I can empathise with Scott’s worries about fragmentation on the front-end with Saas, Styles, LESS, Compass, yada, yada, yada.
I want to share my code with everyone who writes CSS, not a subset of that group.
A lovely new service from Adrian that allows you to sync up guitar tabs with videos. It’s a very impressive in-browser app.
A great short talk from Clare about Code Club.
And this is why Code Club is such a great initiative.
It’s a long one, and it’s kind of meta, but if you have any interest in the idea of programming, this in-depth knowledge bomb from Bret Victor is well worth your time.
I’m going to be attending Seb’s CreativeJS and HTML5 course in Brighton on September 13th and 14th …and I strongly suspect that it’s going to be great.
Tim’s book is ready for pre-order. Looks like it’s going to be good one.
More on View Source, this time from Bruce.
The Web has thrived on people viewing source, copying and pasting, then tweaking until they get the page they want.
Stuart on the importance of View Source.
I think I might volunteer my services.
This is an excellent idea: get a whole bunch of after-school code clubs going to teach kids how to code in Scratch.
Here’s a challenge for the new year: use each month as an opportunity to try out a new web technology.
Set yourself small, achievable projects to work on and use 12412.org as a support group. We will all help to motivate each other and join in to offer help where we can.
A plea for more time.
We tend to think in 2 to 5 year scales, maybe we need to be thinking in longer time lines about our own careers and skills.
Roll up, roll up! Get five nights food and lodging at a fantastic luxury horse ranch in the Rockies in March.
Oh, and myself and Aaron will be running workshops on progressive enhancement for you during that time too.
A very honest post from Meagan that I can relate to (and Jessica too, I suspect).
Naz shares his advice for up-and-coming designers …and the institutions that educate them.
This looks like an excellent event: learn about programming without being a programmer.
I don't agree with everything in these vignettes but they make for an good, thought-provoking read.
Announced at SXSW, this is the curriculum that the Web Standards Project has been working on. Education, education, education.
Want to learn CSS kung-fu? Get thee to Maidenhead on October 29th and you can learn from the best: Rachel Andrew and Drew McLellan.