Category Archives: 2017 Summer class

Making Those Changes…

I was so relieved to be done with the project that I took a couple of days off to recuperate some.   Overall, I really enjoyed looking at everyone’s projects and thought everyone did a great job, especially considering that we all started doing this just a few weeks ago. It is amazing what one can do with commitment, energy and hard work. I thought the feedback on my project was solid: Savannah was right about my color scheme. I do need to make it more consistent.

In Greg’s feedback, he told me to make more code-based customizations, which I’m trying to work on right now. I’ve been trying to make a custom post type called Podcasts and make custom fields based on that. I’m wondering if I need to install a plugin though or if I should just do it on WordPress? That is the biggest question I have to ask for this.

I added descriptions for my podcasts and centered all of my SoundCloud links so it looks nicer and more properly indented. Someone suggested on a GitHub issue that I should put my Instagram plugin at the top of the page, but I like where it is. While I thought most of my critiques were solid, I kept my page as it is for a reason. One critique someone gave me was that my logo looked too small, but if I made it any bigger, then it would be overstretched. My boss will probably email me another image, so I will probably just have to change the logo anyways. Another suggestion was my menu. I have been playing around with it, but how do I change my menu exactly? I’ve gone into my wordpress menu and tried to shift things around, but my menu still looks the same.

Overall, this is a project I will continue to work on. There are kinks here and there but I’m proud of what I have created so far. The biggest thing I need to work on though are those custom post types.

Finding My Way: Final Project Reflections and Overall Class Thoughts

Finishing my final project site was the best feeling. When I loaded the final versions of my Sublime files via FileZilla and clicked over to my live site and they actually (mostly) worked, I was shocked and relieved. I was — and am still — a little bit in awe of myself.

I am pleased with what I was able to create for my final project site. As I mentioned in my last post, my modifications included creating a custom post type plugin, rendering a custom metabox, and creating four fields within the metabox that I was eventually able to get to save. I also did a fair amount of CSS styling, including changing the fonts and colors on my site title, subtitle, widget headings, post headings, and body content. I also changed the color of my site’s main navigation bar and put it in a fixed position at the top of the page so that it stays there when you scroll down the page. Lastly, I changed the static and hover colors of the various buttons on my site and added Strava and social media button plugins. Although I wasn’t able to create the lightbox slideshow and featured post carousel that I had initially pitched, I am proud of what I was able to accomplish. If you had asked me 10 weeks ago what a custom post type was and what the steps were to build a plugin, I would have responded with a blank stare. I now know how to create one, or at least what to search for on Google in order to do so!

I’m planning to continue working on my site after the semester is over. I’m hoping to acquire some Adobe Illustrator skills in the coming months so that I can create a custom logo to feature in my site header. In the meantime, I’ll probably make my site title font a little smaller and also reduce the size of the header as a whole. I might also go with a more minimalist color scheme for my site by making my navigation bar the same color as my background.

Looking back on this class as a whole, it has truly been a lesson in problem-solving and troubleshooting. I was already a big user of Google before enrolling in this class, but I can honestly say that I have never Googled so many things in such a short period of time. As the semester went on and my knowledge and understanding of the different coding concepts and programming languages increased, I found myself having an easier time finding the answers to questions simply because I knew what to Google. Not knowing what to search for or where to look as I struggled to build my jQuery slideshow back in June as well as during the early stages of my final project work was frustrating. I quickly learned however, that there are so many resources and forums online that have people asking the same or similar questions. At times, it was reassuring to know that I wasn’t the only one struggling with trying to figure out how to do something.

Thinking back to the very first Codecademy lessons on HTML and CSS, I can see just how much I’ve learned in a short period of time. I went from only knowing how to make a font bold in HTML to creating divs, styling classes in CSS, and using WordPress hooks to create different functionality within my site. The WordPress platform as a whole is something that intrigues me a lot, and I plan to continue exploring all that it has to offer. I learned that there is a WordPress meet-up group in D.C., and I may attend one of their meetings in the future to see what I can learn from more experienced developers.

One suggestion for future iterations of this course would be to start focusing on WordPress earlier in the semester. While I was able to eventually figure out most things on my own, I think it would have been helpful to have a better idea of how WordPress works before I jumped into creating my final project site. I had to do a lot of reading and researching to figure out what hooks and actions were and how they worked within WordPress, and I think that teaching those things and other WordPress-specific concepts earlier in the semester might help future students.

Overall, while I was certainly frustrated at many points throughout the summer and often felt like I was reaching a dead end no matter how hard I searched for an answer, I am grateful for this experience and for being encouraged to dig for answers and find solutions on my own.

Seeing the end

This week I was able to suss out where I am in the class as opposed to what needs to be done. This class has been challenging, and I think that I see the rewards of where I am from where I started.

When I came into this class I knew nothing about web development, and now we’re working on our final projects. I know the things I’ve set out to do are hard, and that I might need to consult people to make sure I’m on the right track, but seeing where I’ve come from has really made me feel better about where I need to go.

I’m excited to talk about project management this week in class. I’ve had some experience with project management, but seeing it applied to web development is something I didn’t expect, but it now makes a lot of sense.

I’m excited to get the hosting figured out on my computer and see where the final takes me. On to another week of web development!

Final push

It took a lot of work to get to the finish line, but we’re here!

After many additional calls with Filezilla and consulting two people I work with, Nick McEvoy and Jake Crump, I was able to convert my local site to my live site.

But, that didn’t mean everything was easy peasy. I lost things like the final project template and had to re-find the number that Word Press gave it. When looking to figure out how to isolate the pages, it took a lot of trial and error isolate the things that I wanted.

As I mentioned last week, the 404 page was really my saving grace in figuring out how to manipulate the rest of the items on my list. Once I saw how things could be changed I was able to move things around.

I’m really proud of what I was able to accomplish, and besides adding the 404 page to my final pitch I was able to do a lot of what I set out to do.

Now that we’re about to see presentations I’m very interested to see how people approached their finals. At some point I can’t imagine how other people did their projects, but that’s because I’m so in the weeds with mine. Very excited for Wednesday!

Winding down + what’s next

As we approach our final class (I’m really looking forward to having the Washington Post developer speak to us about her work!), it’s been crazy to reflect on how far we have come, as Greg mentioned, and what we are able to understand vs. what we are able to go. Our final project has been an excellent lesson is basically learning how to just Google and navigate our way through a world that is still very unfamiliar to us, in the big scheme of things.

I also can’t stress enough how much of an untapped resource Codecademy is — I so wish I had more time in the future to explore that further and teach myself more languages, even if I never get to use them. I definitely want to keep my account open and active so I can go back to it later.

Because I also did a portfolio site, it was hard for me to gauge exactly what I’d need to include on the page for it to look like a full-fledged portfolio that I would want to direct future employers to. In the future, I’d like to explore explore the portfolio pages of colleagues and other people in my field just online to see what other kind of interesting facets people will include (a slideshow perhaps? Maybe something more interactive with my work?). I’m looking forward to exploring this further, as well as continuing to hone and refresh my skills with CodeAcademy.

Final Reflection

As our time together comes to an end and I begin to reflect upon this semester, I must say that although this course has been difficult, I would highly recommend it to any fellow student.

This class is not easy. It takes up more time than any other course I have taken at Georgetown thus far. It is confusing, frustrating, overwhelming at times, and intense.

But, at the same time I will leave this class with more knowledge than any other course I have taken over the past year. The skills I have learned are practical, rare within my professional community, and set me apart as an asset to the team.

I think my personal struggle is that I look at things as a big picture – in my professional work, I can determine what small steps need to be taken to achieve a larger goal and that has served me very well thus far. With coding, however, I am so focused on the end result I struggle to understand the small pieces that add up to the larger project. I think this is partially due to the fact that I don’t fully understand the smaller steps – I don’t fully understand how a website or app works to a point where I can say “I want my final product to be X, and must do A, B, and C to achieve that.”

Although this course has not taught me how to learn X, A, B, and C (I think that will take years) it has helped me realize that I am too focused on the big picture and need to take more time learning the smaller steps.

Reviewing everyone’s final projects during class last week helped me see that there were lots of small, yet important steps that could be taken to improve our sites. When I took on my final project, I was so focused on the final “update” or “addition” that I did not even consider smaller changes, yet I think the people who took on smaller projects had the most impressive final products.

Overall I know this class was an invaluable addition to my coursework. I still have a lot to learn and plan to practice via Codecademy and other sites so I can better understand the baby steps that will one day lead to the overarching objectives I hope to achieve in both my personal and professional work.

Final Project Edits And Final Thoughts

I really enjoyed seeing everyone’s final projects last class — it felt good to know we all faced similar struggles and it was awesome to see the progress we all made.

This past week, I made a couple of changes to my final project based on feedback from my classmates, including more CSS code to change the color and look of my content. I added social media links to my footer and tackled – albeit unsuccessfully – the issue of my custom meta posts not showing up in my blog’s ‘archive’ and ‘recent posts’ sections. I was able to work around the problem with a plugin that allowed me to create separate ‘recent posts’ and ‘archive’ feeds for my book reviews. Although it’s not the solution I would have wanted, it will do for now. There are still things I’m not happy about with my site – in particular how my meta boxes and custom fields are functioning within my posts. I hope that as I continue working on the site, I can work through these issues.

Overall, I really enjoyed working on my final project. I’m pretty proud of my personal site; I’ve wanted to create one for a while so this was the perfect opportunity. To be able to say I coded some of it is an added bonus. Going forward, I would like to keep it up and continue making improvements to it.

Although I am by no means an expert coder, I’ve really enjoyed taking this class. It was definitely the most challenging course I’ve taken in the Georgetown program, but coming into the class with zero coding experience, I am really happy with how much I’ve learned these past couple of months. I enjoy coding and would like to be able to do it regularly in some capacity moving forward, even if it’s just making edits to my site.

I’m looking forward to listening to our guest speaker next class and hearing more from my peers regarding how their adjustments went.

Started From The Bottom, Now We’re Here

It has been a wild summer semester. I walked into this class (a week late) with unknown expectations for the class, the semester, and the material. To be honest, my only interactions with code were back when we had AOL Instant Messenger and MySpace and I wanted to customize something on my profile. Now, after being able to take a step back, I feel like I have learned so much more. I definitely would not have been able to learn what I did if I attempted to learn code on my own–I need the hand holding at the beginning to get comfortable. While I still feel like a total noob when it comes to code and coding, I also feel a sense of accomplishment for being able to at least (somewhat) understand HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and JQuery and PHP, and being able to create my own site using developer code. Like, what?! I’ve realized that coding truly is another language and I have a greater appreciation for the internet, dynamic and interactive sites and most importantly the web developers on my team. I didn’t comprehend the work that goes into their daily tasks.

As I look back on the class I think there are a few things that I would change to help my fellow Georgetown students on their web developer journeys:

  • Offer this class during a Fall or Spring semester. I think the extra weeks and shorter class times will make all the difference.
  • Continue using Codecademy. I think that was my saving grace.
  • Start the WordPress project from the beginning. Find a way to incorporate the final project from the beginning.
  • Work through Codeacademy-like lessons together in class. W3Schools helped, but I think being hands on would be even better.

I really enjoyed this class. I feel a sense of pride knowing that I have made it out alive on the other side with only several bumps, bruises, and maybe a few tears later. I hope my coding journey doesn’t end here and that I’m able to continue learning and developing these skills, but more on that in the next post!

Oops I did it again

Well, I didn’t realize I was supposed to write a post this week because I thought we only had to submit our final site. Whoops!

Ok, so this was truly a blood, sweat and tears process. I’ve learned that coding itself is really not that big of a deal, it’s the figuring out how it all strings together that’s the true challenge. I’m not going to lie, this was really hard for me, and I also had to put in hours upon hours of effort into figuring this out. For example, I spent about four hours just trying and failing to select the correct class to modify an element.

Honestly, in retrospect, I feel like I got hung up on your “don’t try and re-invent the wheel” comments, so if there was a plugin version to try, I would try that. But, I feel like I should’ve just started from scratch instead of wasting lots of time trying to figure out how to make tiny adjustments to the plugins and wading in horrible forums (why can’t everyone’s customer service be like Squarespace’s?). Master Slider is stupid and clunky.

But! The fact that I even got a website up in any capacity is sort of a miracle. This was such a maze of an experience. One step forward and fifteen steps back.

And, I am really looking forward to being able to putz around on my own time and make tweaks–and honestly just being able to do things without having to do anything in particular. Like, while this isn’t exactly what I pictured, it’s definitely closer than what I thought I’d end up with. It’s minimal, which I like. That’s definitely my style, and I love the idea of going to all the different tradesmen in Colonial Williamsburg and make slideshows for each of them. (Who knows what for, but I think it’d be fun.)

So. Whilst I plan to take a break from coding for a bit, I definitely want to continue working through projects and learning through that process.

This is the broccoli of classes.

A Life Surfeited

A Life Surfeited

I chose the name of my blog with the intent to showcase the activity that fills my life with joy: travel. The past few weeks, however, it has applied more (unforgivingly) to the massive amount of work, homework, and just plain ole life on my plate. Juggling it all, but especially the creation of my final project, has been a lesson in patience and prioritizing. But like with most challenges, I have made it through and am now ready to start planning my next reprieve… a trip to SoCal!

I finally got my website up and running after way too many hours of googling fixes, installing, uninstalling, uploading, compressing, downloading, deleting, transferring, renaming, plugging in, unplugging, signing in, signing out, caching… you get the idea. I ended up having to add a plugin to my local WP site that copied everything and duplicated it on my live WP site (and somehow/somewhere saved it to a database.) I’m still unclear how to maintain the site, which I plan to do, but like everything else, will figure it out. I know we aren’t supposed to make changes to the live site, but just seems SO much easier for a personal blog (not a client site.) But I do want to follow best practices if I can figure out a relatively easy way to copy and duplicate going forward.

There are still many modifications I would like to make to my site, as well as content to be added – again, I plan to actually use and update my site going forward. But for now, I am happy with what I was able to accomplish.

I made quite a few style changes to the parent theme using a child theme, but also through the WP customization tool. A few things I want to do but was unable, after several searches and failed attempts, include:

  • Making the header menu background color (black) run the full length of the page. Right now it is cut up with a gray background. It has something to do with the layers on the page… a site container under another site container, with a row and a banner and a menu in between or over. So if I change one that may fix the header problem, if affects other parts of the page.
  • Make the text in the site container in the banner image more opaque without making the entire page (site container) opaque. Same issue with layering above.

I also modified three plugins to suit my needs: a Google calendar, a world map, and custom comment fields.

  • I am still working on the Google calendar – I have done every step the plugin says, i.e. created the cal, linked to my public Google cal, accessed an API key, but it still won’t display the “events.”
  • I am happy with the world map, as it links to associated posts, but I would like to continue playing with it’s styling.
  • As for the comment fields, I was able to create 2 new fields. One thing I still can’t figure out though is how to remove the WP default field for “Website.” It only shows for users not signed in, but still… I don’t want or need it.

Another thing I’d like to do in the future is make the information/links I have on my Day Dreams page, under the calendar, look like a Pinterest page. I think I will be able to do this, just need to find the right plugin.

Two last thoughts: I didn’t utilize widgets for my final project but would be interested in learning more about them and how I could. Also, I may decide to make a custom post type for my travel posts that include dates of the trip and location (instead of me having to remember to write that in each time.)

So yea, I think that’s it! Way to go everyone! We did it! I look forward to seeing everyone’s blogs this week in class:)