Tag Archives: week12

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!

Reflection Part II

This class has been really interesting for me–some serious highs and lows. I found Codecademy (except for the JavaScript section!) extremely useful. It made things simple, and I appreciated having something specific to refer to when I was embarking on my own projects and other assignments.

Overall, I enjoyed working on my project. I just wish I had more time—just to putz on it and see what works and what doesn’t. Actually, I can see myself fiddling with it over my vacation, because I’d love to have it more finished and to display it on my website along with my portfolio. Of course, that means I’d have to figure out some way to continue hosting it. I want to be able to use this—or a similar format—to tell other visual stories. I think it’d be a great way to showcase any sort of group of individuals. (I’d love to do a thing that showcased each of the tradesmen at Colonial Williamsburg. They’re really pretty. And interesting.)

If I were to reflect on the whole class, I’d say I’m just so glad to know the vernacular of this business. I feel like I can actually talk about it. I had to sit down with this girl the other day to start work on a blog via Google Sites, and I was able to solve problems she had come across, or at least I knew what to look up later.

I definitely need to focus more on the details and how each tiny element relates to each other tiny element. I need to learn to be more patient with it—along with having more time! I will be curious to see how the data visualization class links with this one. And I look forward to be able to continuing to immerse myself in these new languages. I don’t want to lose what I’ve learned.

Feedback on the class

When looking back on this summer course, there are definitely things that I wish I knew better before I started. When I signed up for this class, I knew it would probably be challenging but I didn’t fully realize how time consuming it would be. I feel like some expectations were levied that I didn’t fully recognize, or understand. And given the past few weeks I have some suggestions for making the class better.

First and foremost, this should not be a summer course. There’s too much in the syllabus alone to justify the course being taught on a shortened scale. Either the objectives of the class need to be simplified, like taking out the project management week and extending the time spent learning JavaScript, or it need to be a longer course.

Second, the class needs a TA. Like the other technical classes I’ve taken, it’s paramount to have someone go through and make sure you’re actually clicking the right buttons and understanding the concepts before the class moves on. Only having one person there makes it really hard to do that, so a teaching assistant needs to be in the class if we aren’t going to go over the nuts and bolts.

Finally, I think expectations need to be managed on both sides more before this class is taught again. I know many people in the class, like myself, felt like things moved too quickly and not enough time was spent actually going through concepts we learned. For the most part it just seemed like a sprint to touch on any possible thing that could exist in web development. Instead, I think the course should correct and only teach more of the basics. Codecademy was useful for some things, like CSS and PHP, but it wasn’t a good use of time to work multiple hours on something that we then never really touched again, like jQuery.

Overall, I was able to learn some things in this class, but oftentimes I was more frustrated than excited about what I was learning. The class needs to be essentialized for PR professionals and journalists. While I appreciate that there were good intentions to get everyone familiar with web development, it needs to be scaled back before I could honestly recommend it to a classmate, especially one with a full-time job.

Overall Thoughts

My overall thoughts for this class are all over the place. I have felt many emotions throughout the process, but am glad to be on the other side. At first I felt completely overwhelmed and lost. I then turned to getting frustrated and mad. Then I taught myself that all you really need to do is have a clam temper and think about things the way a developer would. I think that this was my key to success in for the final project.

Instead of thinking extremely hard, I brought it down to my own level. For example, when I wanted to put a contact form at the bottom of each of my pages, i thought about how that might look. At first I was thinking too big picture and that I would need to put the code into each individual page. Instead, I took a step back and realized that if I put it into the footer of the page, that was automatically already formatted to be placed on each page and therefore I wouldn’t have to write code in various places.

This class was a good example of the quote, “work smarter, not harder.” I was making things way too hard and have taught myself a new perspective on what it takes to create code.

My portfolio turned out to be much better than I expected. I didn’t have very high ambitions at the beginning, but when my code started working, I got very excited and wanted to keep adding more. It was weirdly addicting — kind of like when you finally get a really hard math problem right. You are very proud of yourself and want to show off what you can do.

This skill has already brought so much into my career. I was the hit of the day when I created a “Fake News” picture on the New York Times website by using the inspect tool and changing the title of something and sent it to my team at work. Working in PR for Federal IT clients, they are often talking about GitHub, and I am now aware of the types of tools they are using and can explain the lingo to my colleagues.

I am very thankful that I took this class and didn’t give up. There was a moment there when I truly contemplated it. I learned a lot, and most importantly, will be able to use it in my career.


Class Reflection

In theory, I am excited about and happy with everything I’ve learned this summer in our Web Development class — in practice, however, it has been challenging ad very time consuming for a full-time working professional. That said, I knew what I signed up for, and I’ve said this before, it’s like learning a new language that is supposed to be challenging and time-consuming!

What I am most excited about is coming away from this class with a useful product: my new website. I am already eager to begin building it out more. I want to totally change the theme and add more to the menu, more custom pages, and eventually add content to my blog posts. I will challenge myself to do some coding, but for the most part, I see myself using available plugins.

To that point, I am happy with the amount of intro knowledge about web development that I have gained since day 1 of the class. I do want to pursue learning more about HTML and CSS, and perhaps teach myself Ruby on Rails or Swift (more on this next week). I feel like at this point I have a much better understanding of what programming is and isn’t, and could communicate asks better with any developer.

Another thing I found helpful was some of the early readings about the history of computers, how we talk to them, what the internet, a server, or URL is, and why all of this is important to know as a daily user of these technologies. I’m also now more freaked out by the inter-connectiveness and seeming vulnerability of it all and my online footprint — but that’s for a whole other discussion.

A couple of considerations for future webdev classes:

  • While Codecademy was a great online tool to learn how to code, I recommend doing some more in-class lessons as well. Walk through examples from beginning to end like Codecademy does. It’s like a math class in high school — homework includes reading and learning about a technique or formula, as well as doing some example problems, then in class, the teacher would go through them and some additional problem exercises to really drive the lesson home.
  • I might begin the lessons about WordPress very early on (before Codecademy) and get test sites up and running. Next, learn about HTML and CSS, then go into WP and explore how in the real world you can make changes to themes or plugins. That would give people a lot more time to think about website and make changes they want. Also, I think for a good chunk of the class I was having trouble understanding how, in the real world, I would use any of the programming languages I was learning.
  • Help everyone get their site up and live instead of making it a “learning process” Unnecessary waste of many, many… many hours. ;P
  • Recommend Python or Ruby on Rails over JavaScript or JQuery. But that could just be personal preference for languages? I found JS and JQ super confusing, hard, time-consuming, and then never used again.

In conclusion, I would recommend this class to anyone interested in this field of learning or who works with web developers in their job. For me, I fall into both those categories — but was mainly just curious about the word of computer programming. I said in my first blog post that I am more of an analytical thinker, so for me, learning and applying the languages were relatively easy. But getting into abstraction and wrapping my head around some of the more conceptual ideas of development were tricky, yet fun.

Thanks for a great semester!



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.

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.