Author Archives: Alexia Nal

The Road to More Knowledge

Believe it or not, I actually want to work more on my website following this class. I ran into a few bumps that I would like to resolve. In previous posts, I mentioned how web development entails a lot of problem solving. This is a skill I would continue to exercise as I figure out how to improve the map and contact form on my page. When developing my website for the final project, I did not think I would touch it again once this class was over. However, I am inspired to first figure out the issue to my website problems and then create my own personal portfolio website with the tips and tricks that I have learned in this class. Fortunately, I am not taking any courses over the summer so I am hoping to embark on another frustrating journey and finish launching my website by the end of the summer.

Another thing I hope plan to do is go through the syllabus again and refresh my memory of topics that I struggled with. For example, I know we did the PHP lesson through a different resource than Codeacademy, but I would like to try taking the Codeacademy lesson to see if this would help improve my knowledge of PHP. I think going through material I have seen before would improve my comfortability with HTML, CSS, JavaScript and PHP.

I really don’t want to forget the skills that I have learned in this class. A matter of fact, I was hoping to turn this into a hobby. I enjoy the feeling of being able to code something correctly and seeing my vision work! I know the world of web development is a lot more intense than this course, but who knows where my skills will take me? It would also be interesting to try going to a coding meet-up this summer. I can’t wait to see where my new journey takes me!

Final Thoughts

Wow! Are we really at the end of the term? In a weird way, it feels like it has been a long, but short journey. I will admit that this class was a lot more difficult than I thought it would be. There were times when I felt pretty strong in the material we were learning and other times when I wanted to completely give up. I feel like I have a lot more respect for web developers and I think it would be a cool opportunity in the future to be a communications person working very closely with a developer.

I thought I would be extremely proud of the final product, but I ran into the strangest issue yesterday. Although I was updating code and running all the software, my local host would not make updates and it became extremely frustrating. I feel like I might have de-bugged the issues, but I don’t know because I can’t see it. I know that our updates were due yesterday, but I am hoping for peace of mind, I will be able to figure out what the issue is.

Anyways, at first I did not want to do any customizations that would challenge me, but now I am glad I picked ones like the map. I feel like this gave me a glimpse of what it could be like in the web development world. Sometimes there might be a client that visualizes something so complicated and the developer saying, “Oh yeah, we could definitely make this happen,” and then realizing that it wasn’t as easy as they thought it would be. I felt this way when I was brainstorming customizations and then realizing that it wasn’t as easy as following along to a resource online.

Overall, this class could come in handy one day.  I’m sure I won’t think about how frustrated I was in this class, but instead be able to empathize with the developer and agree that web development is no joke!


The Feeling of Accomplishment

Many times throughout the project, I would become extremely frustrated when I tried several times to perfect a customization and the outcome wasn’t what I wanted. My customizations ended up being 3 custom pages, a contact form, a map, 404 error page and a gallery. I think the custom pages were my favorite part of the project because I enjoyed having the ability to manipulate the page to my liking and utilize some of the code we learned in previous lessons like JavaScript, HTML, CSS and PHP. However, when I didn’t use a custom page, I ended up having errors. For example, I tried to customize the homepage on WordPress and it said I already trashed the coffee photo and the old contact mini page. I hoped that when I made my site live, these issues would disappear. However, you will notice that when you scroll all the way down on the home page, the coffee photo and fake contact page is still there. Classmates, I would love any tips or advice on how to get rid of this!

The customization that took me the longest was the map. Oh, this darn map! This sucker took me several days to do because I had to watch tons of videos and read articles to accomplish what I did. One source didn’t work so I ended up combining lessons from different sources. Ultimately, I came up with the code that you can see on my repository. I wanted each pin to have a pop-up information box when I clicked on it. However, the information box would only pop up on one pin. 🙁 I tried changing variables since I had 6 pins, but then the whole map would disappear. The map was really difficult since there were many moving parts like making an API key and pulling out the longitude and latitude.

Finally, the last issue that I had was making the contact form work. I thought it would when it went live, but then my thank you text appeared at the bottom of the contact box. Then, when you submit all the info, it takes you to an error page. I would love advice about this as well.

Although, I ran into a few difficulties. I am strangely energized to keep working toward fixing these issues and self-studying code. I thought I would say goodbye to web development after the final project, but I feel like I have learned so much that I can’t give up on the knowledge I have so far!

Oh, and one big apology for the amount of ‘freaking out’ emails that I sent to Greg this past week.

Step by Step, right?

As the days go by, I am started to freak out because it is almost April 21 and I am not where I would like to be!! I have been making a huge effort to dedicate chunks of time to my final project. However, I feel like most of my time has been semi-wasted by reading about customizations and plug-ins online and then freaking out that there isn’t enough time to accomplish all the things I want for my site.

However, I have been trying to utilize the timeline method that our instructor recommended in class. Instead of writing down big picture tasks, I have changed my tasks into smaller steps so that I can have something ready for Sunday. For example, I did my research for each of the customizations, but decided to start plugging away with some of the content on the WordPress side so I can add the plug-ins afterwards. I am not sure if this is a good idea, but I hope it works out.

Overall, I am really looking forward to this workshop on Tuesday. I wish there was one last one, but maybe I can convince some classmates to come in another time this week to have another final-project cram session. I think tomorrow will be a great opportunity to bring in all the questions I can think of and some of the concerns that arise so I can take advantage of asking my classmates and instructors for help.

For some inspiration and guidance, I decided to check out previous posts about the final projects from the other classes in the past. One of my customizations is the interactive map and it looks like the plug-in worked for one of the students in the past. I’m looking forward to taking a stab at that, but scared I will run into Firezilla issues as students have highlighted.

Not so happy ending thought though….what if I am that student that can’t produce a good enough site? Guess we will see if I can pull through! Crossing my fingers a miracle happens!


Where do I start

Unfortunately, the anxiety has started to kick in for this final project. Somehow April became my busiest month and I quickly realized why my professor recommended that we make deadlines for steps within each customization. I think the pressure of it being a final project scares me since I found the gallery and HTML project to be huge challenges. However, I am extremely thankful to have gotten through each week with improvement on my understanding of web development. One of the biggest challenges will be figuring out which customization will actually work out. My fear is that I will struggle with all the customizations and not have a good enough web page. Luckily, I will be able lean on classmates and even our instructor for assistance if I get stuck. Who knew that web development would be so collaborative and such a friendly community?

Even though I am pretty stressed about the project, I will try to take one step at a time and review previous class materials and YouTube videos so this web page can truly be my own. Originally, I created a timeline for each customization with far stretched dates to only realize that our final project due date is just around the corner. I think the biggest issue with these self made timelines is that I might be able to complete them if I get stuck on navigating a customization for too long. I guess my solution to that will be to do a little at a time and try every customization in order to figure out which one will work best for my site. I wonder how much time is best to focus on code customization for a day? How do I know if the code customization is the best one for my site? Although I feel hesitant to start, I will take it one step at a time.

APIs, The Unsung Hero

Through this week’s reading, I have realized that APIs is an important part of my life because it allows interactions between applications, data and devices, giving us the connectivity that we love and deserve! To be honest, I was originally skimming through this week’s reading and I had a lot of trouble understanding APIs at first, causing me to be extremely frustrated.  As soon as I slowed down and gave the API readings a chance, I realized that “what is an API” is a question that people should be asking more often, especially with how imperative technology is in our world.

So what is an API?! This is a question I surely have been asking all night. I enjoyed watching the analogy in a video I watched this week that described an API as you requesting an order and the waiter acts as the communicator telling the kitchen your order and delivering the food back to you. I have noticed that many programmers have different definitions for what they believe an API is. Simply put, APIs make a lot of sense using the waiter analogy, but gets extremely complicated to me when I hear about there being unique APIs for Google and WordPress. In one of the articles, it says that the difference in a Google API is the format of the request and the response. Are most APIs typically very similar in format? I also noticed that the WordPress API also uses  JSON, but I am not sure if they are the same kind of API. I thought of the JSON version of an API as the waiter receiving an order from a foreigner, trying to make sense of it in the kitchen and then returning words in a new language. Not sure if this analogy makes sense, but hopefully there is one that would explain the format better to me.

I am still trying to make sense of APIs because it seems like it is a title some programmer just threw out there. Is an API something a programmer creates with the server? Although there are many questions out there, at least I know that APIs are our unsung hero!

Final-Pitch Road To Fit Update

WHAT: My final project will be focused on one of my niche interests of fitness and nutrition.

WHO: My goal is to connect with others that want to get into fitness, but don’t know how or where to start.

WHY: I chose this because I have always been into blogs and Instagram posts that inspire me to go on my own personal fitness journey. I want my final project to be personal, but also allow others to connect through input of their journeys as well.



timeline: research by apr 9, psuedo code by apr 10, writing code Apr 12-14,  testing locally & debugging apr 15, testing live & deploying apr 17-21

  • gallery slideshow of different fitness classes and nutrition programs with captions.
  • social media accounts of major fitness and nutrition bloggers for inspiration. This will be customized because this will be an API of a live feed according to the map.
  • Taking a shot on child page customization
  • contact form
  • menu with sections like about me, fitness recommendations, nutrition recommendations, locations, fitness blog
  • API of an interactive map with different locations of different fitness and nutritious places
  • customization of fonts and colors

Man’s Best Friend

This past week, I polished up my midterm developer profile and submitted it for the class to read. I got the opportunity to interview John and his words truly inspired me to keep expanding my knowledge with different languages and technologies. Throughout the semester there have been times when I have gotten extremely frustrated with the material, but the interview basically reinforced that the world of web development can be challenging, but it’s worth it for people that like to constantly be learning something new. I guess it is very possible for a computer to be another “man’s best friend” especially because of how much technology is growing in our society.

Speaking of man’s best friend, this week’s assignment in a sense showed me another way that man is able to communicate with a computer. Instead of using a mouse to initiate thoughts and actions, we are able to talk to our computer through a command line! From the command line reading, I didn’t quite understand why people would use the command line for any reason other than pure boredom since the reading mostly showed the ‘how.’ I remember messing with the command line when I was in high school for silly little commands. However, I came across an interesting article that shared that people use a command line as a resource to perform tasks quicker and it can be much easier to automate and do remotely. In my opinion, the command line sounds exhausting since it seems like it requires memorization of dozens of different commands. A cool trick I found for command line is renaming 100+ files much faster (less than a minute) from a single command! It is really cool to see many tools on a computer or through languages that simplify a developers ability to do tasks. Developers are not only at times lazy, but they are also have a pretty good best friend a.k.a computers.



Midterm Developer Profile

I recently got the chance to interview Jonathan Kvicky, a former Front-End Developer for U.S. News & World Report. John got into this field because he originally started messing with web development and programming at a very young age. He then began to do freelance and work for a number of individuals during the early days of high-school and college. He likes to think of himself as a self-taught developer in the sense that he went to college for Cognitive Psychology and Statistics degrees and not the traditional Computer Science degree.

When asked about the level of difficulty getting into web developing, John claims it is a “double-edged sword”, because it is easier since there are an unlimited amount of free resources available online to anybody who wants to start a journey in web development. There is no barrier of entry for somebody new who wants to dip their feet and start learning.  For this reason, there are an incredible number of successful developers out there who are self-taught. That being said, the field of web development is such a fast-moving field, and many new developers can feel overwhelmed quickly. The journey of learning as a web developer literally doesn’t end, and it’s because of this that many people new to the field only get so far. In the end though, if somebody really loves to both learn, and solve problems, John states that they will already have the two foundational requirements of being a great developer.

Jonathan recently got hired by PlayStation as a Senior Front-End Engineer in Los Angeles, so congrats to him! For the purpose of this profile, I will focus more on his last project at his last role. This project, code-named “Atlas,” is part of the education vertical and is essentially a rewrite of existing website architecture using a JavaScript library called React. The purpose of Atlas is to improve the overall user experience, responsiveness and performance while utilizing features on the U.S. News website. While there are a number of integral elements which encompass the development that takes place within the “Atlas” project, the main priority involves the translating of the current website architecture into hundreds of reusable React components. Once built, these serve as building blocks and can then be configured as needed to build different pages throughout areas of the U.S. News website.

The team that is focused on this project is currently comprised of a team lead, four software developers, a small Quality Assurance (QA) team, a project owner, and a scrum master. The software is JavaScript on the front-end with some Python incorporated as well. For source code management and version control, GitLab is utilized instead of GitHub. As far as the review process goes, the team works in two-week sprints to meet deadlines of set deliverables, which are discussed and estimated beforehand.

At its core, the React JavaScript library is still regular JavaScript, but it allows for faster, more efficient development, and provides a number of benefits related to performance/user experience because of how the JavaScript is rendered to the page and utilized. React was originally created by Facebook and first deployed on Facebook’s newsfeed in 2011 and became an open-source library in May of 2013. The project is under ongoing development, and there is no estimated time to “completion” because future projects and pages under the U.S. News education vertical will continue to be created using the React library for the foreseeable future.

A typical work day on this project involves doing a daily stand-up with the rest of the team to discuss where everybody currently is in the status of their sprint tickets. Tickets allow the other members of the team get an idea of what deliverables will be met by the end of the two-week sprint and also allow developers to collaborate with one another based on feedback. After the stand-up, the developers resume their work of either building components, or pages with their components, and replacing parts of the U.S. News website one section at a time. This project works together with mock-ups provided by designers in order to meet user-interface expectations. Once the code is written and completed, it is submitted to a fellow developer or the team lead for peer review and checked by design. Once approved, it is submitted to QA for testing, and then is pushed into the production pipeline phase.

The desired outcome of working on this project is to transform the different verticals of the U.S. News website, starting with Education, to utilize the React library in order to improve the user experience of the millions of visitors they receive monthly. This will allow their developers to create applications and features at a far more rapid pace. This project helps the company internally because the development cycle happens much faster and more efficiently, but also externally because it provides all U.S. News site visitors with a much preferable and performant experience while utilizing the U.S. News website and its many features and applications.

Since the Atlas team is fairly new, there are some challenges involving bringing everybody on the team up to speed with certain development concepts and practices in order for us to work efficiently together. The Atlas team is still in the process of discovering what areas of their development and production lifecycle may be improved by changing certain processes. Thus far, Jonathan says that everything has gone smoothly, and they have seen nothing but great benefits across the board.

Trying to Take It All In

Out of all the topics we have learned in class, I was hoping I could hide away from PHP. I was sure that I made an enemy out of PHP with my lack of understanding of its functions. During the past two classes, I have questioned Greg and Laura about the purpose of PHP and I am proud to say that I have at least made progress with my understanding of php from this week’s assignment.

Since I originally started out pretty desperate for PHP help, I made it a priority to read a little more on PHP so I can learn some cool tricks before digging into the assignment. One of my favorite PHP tricks is the ability to create forms! I was happy to see something PHP-related work on my homepage because I initially came in thinking nothing would work. However, there were a few PHP tricks that didn’t work on my homepage prototype and I know I still have a lot to learn. How do you know if the cookies function from PHP works on your page if cookies are more behind-the-scenes?

After taking a glance at the Twenty Seventeen on GitHub, I noticed that there were many PHP files. Is it easier to create many files rather than place all the PHP code within HTML or one PHP file? I don’t quite understand why there are so many files for twenty-seventeen here.

On a lighter note, I found the design thinking reading to be mind-blowing and change the way I think about web development. In particular this quote allowed me to think of web development as a creative skill, “when you add ‘thinking’ to the word ‘design, it’s no longer about color or decoration. It’s now about process. It’s about getting to a more intentional outcome. It’s about thinking about the experience of the customer, user, and employee.” Basically, web development falls into the design realm since it is a process where a lot of thinking is involved as witnesses in this class, right?