Author Archives: Jessica O'Donnell

I Can’t Believe I Built A Website

Woohoo! The final project is done! I am really proud of how mine turned out and I have been showing everyone what I’ve done. Professor Sturgis, who was especially enthusiastic about this course, was excited to see everything I had learned. Currently, my portfolio has been updated to meet the requirements for another class’ final.

Overall, I really enjoyed this class and learned a lot. I feel like I have expanded my thinking about computer systems and technology in general. I took to this course to learn more about the basics of “coding” and I feel I have accomplished that goal! It has been a lot of fun testing out code. It’s an incredible feeling when something I wrote actually works.

During the syllabus week at the very beginning of this class, I was scared. I actually considered dropping this course because it seemed like too much work. Now we are at week 13 and I can’t believe I have completed all the assignments — including the website!

Honestly, modifying the website wasn’t too hard once I had all the proper foundations set up. I think the hardest parts were setting up the child theme, setting up the local host, setting up NameCheap, and then setting up FileZilla. After everything was squared away all I had to do was plug and chug! After all, the final project wasn’t so daunting.

p.s. I got that margin to work on my homepage 🙂

So. Close.

I’m really close to being happy with my site. There are a few issues I need to work out that I don’t really know how. I get a file upload error (unspecified) every time I try to upload a header for my site.

I was able to embed my resume on my site, but don’t know how to center it since that code lives on WordPress and not in my files. My contact form works. But only if you don’t actually enter any information. I can’t figure that one out at all. When I just hit submit, I get the “Thank you!” response page I created. When I fill in the contact info and hit submit, I get a 404 error. Lol.

I also still need to figure out how to center my social media icons at the top of my site, but if not it’s not the end of the world. 10 minutes later update: I have moved my social media icons to my footer and, hallelujah, they are centered!

Oh, and FileZilla is having a hard time overwriting some of my original pushes. I changed the form action to go to a response page, it works on my localhost (sends me to my live site), but on my live site it sends me back to my localhost. Lol. I successfully embedded a resume, FileZilla updated my live site. However, I cannot get my updated footer and contact form page to update! Even when I overwrite on FileZilla. Update: updating my parent theme seemed to have done the trick!

Anyway, I will keep on chugging and hopefully fix these bugs. Check out what’s cooking on my live site here!

Final Project — Getting There

So I really started working on my project last week when I set up a *real* child theme in class. It made life so much easier — all I had to do was inspect element and replace whatever I wanted in my child’s style sheet.

Right now I have even completed two customizations! (Fans hooplahing & cheering in the background.) I was able to add a contact form to the bottom of my site and social media icons at the top of my site. However, nothing really works. I added the PHP for my contact form, but when I hit submit it shows me a 404 error. My social media icons work, but they’re not styled right. I think that is due to a lag with my style.css because I added a new font the other day, but it never showed up so I left. I came back a few days later and it was updated, so maybe my social media icons will come around in a few hours.

Outside of my personal customizations, my FileZilla refuses to connect to the server. I didn’t do anything differently from class either. And the WordPress navigation bar when you “visit site” disappeared as well. Oh, and the menu I added through WordPress doesn’t work. But at least it’s there I guess.

So, this all goes to say. I am getting there. Kinda.

Week 10: Still Trying To Understand How the Web Works

APIs — Application Programming Interfaces — are waiters. What does that mean exactly? Well, MuleSoft explains it like a restaurant. You sit down at your table, persuing the various delicacies available for your choosing. You know the kitchen will be able to make your order, but how do you let the kitchen know what you want? And how does the kitchen get you your food? Surely, you can’t do it yourself so this is waiters (or APIs) come in. An API is a messenger that takes requests and tells a system what you want to do. Then, the API will return the response back to you.

Real API examples are third-party travel sites. When you use services such as Kayak or Priceline, they are interacting with airlines’ and hotels’ APIs. You tell them what you want, they tell the companies, and then they give you the companies’ responses.

In essence, APIs rule the internet. The web (did I use those right??) would be far less connected that what we see today. They connect the web, allowing developers, applications, and sites to tap into databases and services (or, assets)—much like open-source software. APIs do this by acting like a universal converter plug offering a standard set of instructions.

Get it? Got it? Good! Now you have a basic (emphasis on basic) understanding of how APIs work. You can try out our example below to get a better understanding of the mechanics behind APIs or watch our video about getting started with APIs.

Click the button to go to the next lesson!


Click Here for "REST APIs & JSON"—>


Side note: often on like third-party travel sites, there aren’t Southwest flights. I usually use Google Flights, so I can’t speak for everyone, but does that mean Southwest doesn’t allow third-party access to their APIs? And what would be the motive for doing so?

Collaboration Is Key

This week’s readings encouraged me to reflect on my time at Apple this summer. I was lucky enough to be a marketing intern on the Apple Music team. My role was focused on retention efforts, with some dips into acquisition efforts as well. I particularly liked the Aigle Manifesto.

Business people and developers must work
together daily throughout the project.”

It’s probably obvious, but very true. On the business/creative end we tend to get ahead of ourselves — leaping to fantastical updates or new ideas without first consulting our engineering counterparts. I like this part of the job. It’s fun. I got to make recommendations without a care about the thousands of lines of coding it would take to get it done.

Anyway, back to the quote at hand. I remember this summer we were working on a large project with 10 external and international partners. We had a lot of ideas we needed to get engineered for us. Unfortunately, each entity also had to be individualized for each partner. Needless to say, the two engineers leading the back-end of things weren’t very happy with us. But collaboration is key. All we really had to do was explain why all of their labor would be needed and how it would benefit our customers. Oh, and keep our partners happy. Part of the reason I took this class is to be better at these types of conversations. And have a better understanding of what software engineers do.

“Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer
through early and continuous delivery
of valuable software.”

This manifesto is brilliant. From beginning to end all principles should be followed by start-ups and large companies alike. Adding to the brilliance, it’s concise! We’ve all seen lengthy manifesto err to the way of redundancy (*ahem* the racist/misogynistic Google engineer guy that wrote a 10-page manifesto last year). But this manifesto epitomizes the very essence of its subject matter.

“Simplicity — the art of maximizing the amount
of work not done — is essential.”

A Sigh of Relief

It loomed on the horizon since the beginning of the semester. In the misty fog of deep sea waters, a mysterious indistinct other sat and waited for our ships to arrive. There was no turning back, no leaving the waters, no retreat. Our ships moved incessantly in the waves toward this impending other.

The curious entity sat and waited for us. It watched us as we learned, as we battled smaller enemies, and perfected our crafts. Every Codeacadmey lesson, every three-hour class session, and every analysis post — it just observed. It was if this entity knew it would be the last thing standing in our way before freedom.

And even as we learned, as we won smaller battles, and as we worked toward perfection — it felt as if this inscrutable being would still have us beat. As we inevitably inched closer and closer we could see the monster for what it truly was. Endless lines of code, front-end & back-end capabilities, widgets, modifications, MAMP, and original content — we were toast. All hope felt lost.

Days passed with no word from the mainland. We were all alone. The biggest battle we faced was quickly approaching. Food and water supplies were running low. And then it came. A message from the mainland. A sigh of relief. Aid was being sent, we were going to beat this thing! We could do it! In just the nick of time, we would be equipped with everything we needed.

The message you ask? It read:

“The website final project will consist more of modifying existing themes and code, rather than creating a new theme entirely from scratch.”

Final Project Pitch — Update

What: I am planning to create an online portfolio. It will include elements such as: an about me, my resume, and photos I’ve taken.

Why: I think creating a portfolio is the most practical option. As a graduating senior it doesn’t hurt to be able to create something that could help me professionally.

Audience: The audience ranges from future employers to random people that could happen upon my site. If this comes out successful I will post it on my LinkedIn, so another avenue for future audience persons.

Tentative Theme: Minimal Portfolio

Track: Probably 99% front-end modifications, with back-end tweaks as needed.


  • Gallery of photos on a separate page.
  • Resume embedded on a separate page.
  • Contact form on the bottom of homepage.
  • Social media linked icons in header.
  • About me page with embedded conquer earth widget (
  • Change fonts/theme colors

An Uphill Battle

It is no secret that the gallery assignment was a tough one. The entire class — not an exaggeration — struggled with completing it. So what is the gallery assignment, anyway? Our class was tasked with creating a homepage (easy-peasy) that contained a slideshow of photos (not so easy-peasy). The HTML portion of this assignment was like a walk in the park. A few brackets here, a heading there, and throw some divs in the mix — you’re good to go. The CSS was a little tougher. Figuring out the exact numbers I need for “top” & “width” (what the heck is auto??) & trying to decide if my position should be relative or absolute probably took me a solid two hours. But, CSS turned out to be no match for the evil-two-headed-monster that is JavaScript & jQuery. Missing class didn’t help, but I think even if I were there I would have still had issues. Dollar signs, squiggly brackets, and commands that didn’t make sense to my human brain — all hope felt lost.

I tried, tried, and tried again to understand how to make it work. The internet was helpful, but also confusing. Every source had a different way of doing a slideshow, so there were no basic commands I could turn to. I was plugging and chugging in different things from W3 schools, Youtube, Wired, and some smaller sketchier sites. I spent hours trying to make it make sense. I left and came back. Still nothing. I left again and came back again, and still nothing.

It just didn’t work.

So how does my tale end? I eventually gave up. I plugged in an automatic slideshow from W3 schools and begged for forgiveness in the /* comments */. It wasn’t a proud moment.

Still, all was not lost. We took the time in the class period following the assignment to really dive into how to do it. All was explained, untangled, unmangled, and demystified. For now, the battle was won and our men could return home.

But, whispers lingered in the air of a more terrifying conquest looming in the near distance. The natives call it: “A whole entire website, like seriously.” I fear what is to come, will my men survive?