Tag Archives: week5

Midterm Reflection: Startup Culture, App Development, and AngularJS

I enjoyed working on the midterm assignment and learning from an experienced web developer. This assignment forced me to go outside of my comfort zone and interview someone I’d never before met or interacted with. As a relatively shy person, this was difficult for me, but the developer I interviewed, Dave, could not have been nicer and more approachable.

I connected with Dave through one of my colleagues in the Office of Advancement at Georgetown. My colleague’s boyfriend owns a software and app startup, and my colleague mentioned that her boyfriend would definitely know a web developer that I could interview for this assignment. Several days later, my colleague connected me with Dave via email, and he very quickly answered my lengthy list of questions. This past week, I spent some time following up on a few questions with him because I was interested in learning more about his perspective on those topics (particularly, why Stack Overflow is so great).

One of the most interesting things that I took away from my conversation with Dave was his warning about the culture of overwork that often exists in startups and tech companies. He made an important point that a company might offer you three free meals a day, a place to nap, and a gym, but that is likely because they expect you to spend most of your life there. Tech giants like Google and Apple boast about the amenities available to employees on their campuses, but does this come at the expense of having a life outside of work? Even if I don’t continue with web development any further after completing this class, Dave’s advice to be wary of this type of work culture and environment will remain in the back of my mind no matter what field I pursue a career in.

Dave’s mention of the AngularJS framework also piqued my interest. I had not heard of AngularJS prior to conducting this interview, and I spent some time afterwards researching the framework and what it does. From what I am able to comprehend, AngularJS can be used in app development to make an app more readable, interactive, and dynamic. The AngularJS site sums up the framework as “HTML enhanced for web apps,” but I know there is much more to it than that. Although we won’t really touch on app development in class this semester, I’m interested in digging more into this topic and seeing how app development overlaps with more “traditional” web development. As the usage of web and mobile apps only continues to increase, I’m sure frameworks like AngularJS will become even more important.

Overall, speaking with Dave was an enlightening experience. It was reassuring to learn that, even as a seasoned web and app developer, he relies on Stack Overflow when he has questions or is unable to figure something out. I’m glad that I created an account on the site when I was struggling with last week’s jQuery slideshow assignment—I’m sure I will be consulting it frequently throughout the rest of the summer. Speaking of the jQuery slideshow, I was finally able to get mine to work!

Veoni Vine

I had every intention of doing a portfolio website for my final project. I thought that improving my amateur-looking WordPress site would be the best use of my time. But after diving into HTML, CSS and JavaScript (cringe), I quickly realized that it would be more fun to build a site that incorporated all new content and focused on a true passion of mine.


My husband and I like to think that we have a fairly exclusive wine collection, especially for a couple of 28-year-olds. We even have a few bottles that aren’t supposed to be opened for another 15-20 years. With that long of a wait, it’s difficult to remember where we got it, what food goes well with the wine, what year we should open it, etc. And let’s face it, in 20 years my memory is just going to get worse. So… my idea is to create an online wine cellar that houses all of our elite bottles with images, descriptions and food pairings. In addition to the wine cellar, the website would include a blog so I could document my wine experiences (such as visiting a winery, enjoying a good bottle of wine at dinner, highlighting a new local wine maker, etc.).

As far as the audience, my husband and I will benefit most from the site, at least at the beginning. But I plan on linking to blog posts from my social media channels so other people will know about the website. And who knows, maybe one day there will be a paid Virginia winery ad on the homepage. #winedreams

Post Updates
Description: Veoni Vine will feature images and descriptions of my personal wine collection, as well as highlight my various wine experiences through custom blog posts.
-Have a digital wine cellar that features prominent bottles from Italy and the US.
-Write blog posts to document my wine experiences (winery trips, dinners, etc.)
-Generate followers and encourage people to share comments on the blog posts.
Audience: My husband and I, friends and family, and hopefully other wine enthusiasts.
Achieving goals: I plan on using a WordPress template that is simple and is easily customizable. To ensure everything is organized nicely, I plan on creating custom post types. I also plan on sharing the website through social channels to drive awareness.
Theme: Magazine Basic (http://wordpress.org/themes/magazine-basic)
Functionality & Design:
-Create a child theme
-Develop a custom post type and taxonomies for ‘region’ and ‘year’
-Change the look of the theme by altering CSS code
-Import social media widget
-Add content (at least five collection bottles with images and descriptions, and one post highlighting winery experience).

The MAMP behind the curtain

Learning about how websites are developed and launched from the back end has been — like most things I’ve learned in this class — simultaneously empowering and disappointing. On one hand, I am excited to try setting up my website and developing it on my local server so I can “break” it without affecting what the public sees. On the other hand, the internet seems so much less magical now! Maybe it’s because I haven’t tried navigating the GitHub-MAMP-Cyberduck trifecta yet, but it seems a lot messier and more complicated than I thought it would be. I’ve managed a handful of websites on different CMS platforms and I currently edit another WordPress blog, but I’ve never used a local server before so it’s all been a simple online system. This new local server thing seems more appropriate for a site that I’ll be experimenting on and building independently, so I hope the complexity is worth it.

As far as Codecademy goes, I was pleased to find that PHP was very similar to jQuery and it wasn’t starting all over from scratch with a new language. I still haven’t looked behind the WordPress curtain, so I’m not sure what I’ll find and if I’ll feel comfortable working on it. My goal for the next phase of this course is to try new things and not be afraid to mess up the code. The few moments of true learning and clarity I’ve had with Codecademy have come when the code failed and I’ve had to go back and figure out what I’d messed up.

PHP is HTML with flair

I am a bit intrigued that PHP is its own language rather than just part of the HTML syntax. I like that the PHP is self-closing and makes it easy to find and, hopefully, easy to work with the code. It makes me chuckle that the PHP language started because a coder wanted to write some code for his own webpage, and it grew into an incredibly popular language used by so many people. It just epitomizes the way that coders live and work.

This week seems to have less concepts to learn and more syntax to learn. I am glad, because I have been feeling like we are constantly building upon what we have already learned, but we usually only did the things we just learned once or twice. Now that we are doing things that allow us to practice using the earlier concepts, I am feeling more confident with the earlier material. I think this is because I learn by repetition and doing something just once or twice isn’t enough to make me confident in the practice.

I’m not sure if this is because it is the summer semester or just the material, but I felt that the first few weeks were a firestorm of new information, and the next few weeks will be figuring out what information was vital and we need to get proficient in.

Having down the basics (I think)

I think I have down the basics of web development. As long as HTML, CSS, JavaScript and jQuery are the basics, I think I’m finally becoming comfortable with each of them. I’ve been redoing JavaScript and jQuery from the past couple weeks in order to drill the lessons into my memory, and it’s starting to work.

I am looking forward to developing a theme. In part, I’m excited because I finally am feeling comfortable with the “basics.” The Codex readings also increased my excitement. I am looking forward to creating something that looks unique. I know I shouldn’t get too far ahead of myself — I doubt I’ll be able to create something ENTIRELY unique at this point — but I want it to be at least a little different from other blogs. Since I’ll be updating a theme, I’ll still be using part of the skeleton built for me. I feel judgmental when I see peoples’ blogs that look the same, and I cannot wait to ensure that mine will not.

I think that when blogs look the same, it strips it of its creativity, because it does not look like an individual. It looks like it’s just one in the same. If you have something you want people to read, the visual part of it is very important. In our PR firm, we have a whole design team to make sure that when the traditional side creates something — whether it be messaging, branding, crisis work, what-have-you — the design team can ensure that it looks good. People are visual creatures. The way a blog looks is extremely important, and being unique is part of that.

You down with PHP?

Learning PHP was most relevant to my professional experience as a online marketing consultant. My business model as an online marketing consultant relies heavily upon the ability for the clients website to be in great shape that converts well for its specific industry. My efforts on social media, pay-per-click campaigns, blog writing, email marketing, and display ads only work correctly if a website is functioning properly.

A bad website that is hard to navigate only reduces the effectiveness of my campaigns. When I have to show the client the data behind the campaign and there seems to be huge bounce rates, then it makes me look ineffective and I can’t justify my consultant rates.

What I have started doing is offering website redesigns to companies that have really archaic websites. I’m by no means a web designer or web developer; I am, however, really resourceful. I purchase WordPress themes that match the look and vision of my client’s organization. I offer that service which really just allows me to properly execute my online marketing services. It brings their website to the modern age at a small price and really solidifies the client relationship. The themes often require a little alterations to really fit the needs of my clients depending on the industry. Being able to understand the different file types, formats, and plugins from the WordPress codex entries really helped me comprehend the structure of WordPress and how to effectively run my business. I had not known about child themes until these codex entries, and I can absolutely say that they have changed my process. I had been delaying updating to the new theme version because I didn’t want to lose my edits to the PHP files.

You can say that I’ve learned a great amount over this week. From writing PHP in Codecademy, to the different WordPress Codex entries to better understand the structure. It has literally made an impact on my business. When asked “You down with PHP?” I’ll respond with “Yeah You Know Me!”

PHP: Another Good Week in Code World

I’m not sure if the concepts were simple or if the exercises were just a breeze, but either way I’m feeling invincible after this week’s Codecademy lesson. PHP has by far been the easiest language for me to grasp. I can even go as far as to say that it was the most enjoyable language for me to work with thus far.

I do recognize, however, that we only completed half of the lesson and it still has the potential to get more difficult. Regardless, I see why Greg taught us in the order he did because it seems like a lot of what we learned and struggled through in “code that shall not be named” applies to other code languages. “Conditionals” and “control flows” seemed far less foreign because we had already been repeatedly tortured with them before. A very small part of me even considered going back to JavaScript and finding out if it is still as torturous as I remember; then I woke up. In all seriousness though, transitioning from jQuery to PHP was pretty much as smooth as it could get.

I enjoyed reading the WordPress Codex because I understood a lot of what they meant when referring to a language or a certain code and I felt like I was finally in a special club. Some of the readings I think I’ll have to actually apply before I understand, but it’s nice to know that there are places to refer to when getting started with our own pages.

The concept of child theme reminded me a lot of what we talk about in class with only making changes on our server and not going live until we’re sure about it (I think I said that right). I’m not sure if it is the same idea or not but I’m quickly realizing that the common theme is to avoid making live changes more often than not.


Assignments this week were somewhat challenging, but interesting. What I enjoyed the most about them was my progress towards learning how to think in code; well, PHP. The best lesson of the Codecademy assignment was the arrays. I feel like I actually understand the reasons for arrays, the concepts, and how they may facilitate sustaining a developed site. I may use arrays on my site to develop lists in the backend and only highlight one item on the list to call out a weekly concept and/or special. However, I am not sure if I will use them to build my site and/or incorporate them later on after my site and business mature.

The assignment to outline the site which we want to create was tough, but it forced me to dedicate time to think through the image that I want my company to portray and the services which will be offered. Thinking through these key concepts  has been quite difficult as I have a tendency of wanting to take on the world.  I still have not made all the key decisions, but I was able to create an outline and identify a modo for my web-site development and business to follow: the KISS principle. I definitely feel that the less information which is displayed the more impactful. The key next steps for me are to discipline myself to keep things simple. It is so easy to get carried away with information and/or trying to tackle too much at once.

For the most part, I understood all concepts covered this past week, but I am still not completely comfortable with everything we have learned. Concepts which I am unclear about are:

1.  How do I update a template from WordPress using Sublime?

2. How does the database and WordPress work together? If I stand up a second WordPress site, would I have to create a new database?  As I maintain and further development my site, will I have to go back to Github and do anything to the database? 

3. Is there a way to run spell check from Sublime?



Buy Stock in WordPress! … and not in Codecademy.

It would seem that I am a little late to the party when it comes to buying stock in WordPress. After all, it has been around for nearly a decade. (Where was I again 10 years ago? Yes, I remember, selling my stock in Google.) Had I known then that WordPress would serve as the foundation for two-thirds of the websites I see today, I probably would have invested in it back then. That is, if it wasn’t free and open to the world. Bummer.

On the other hand, at least I can use it today without a paid subscription or ridiculous price tag. That’s a good thing, because it seems to be the best and easiest platform I could use to create my final project. After browsing through all of WordPress’ options and capabilities, it appears there is no better place for a beginner to, well, begin.

Now if only I could crack the Codecademy lessons. I continue to go through the lessons without retaining much. I think it is because Codecademy doesn’t reinforce much. When is the last time we typed HTML? Of course, I do realize I can go back and do the HTML lessons again, but it would be nice if these were building blocks instead of just checks in the boxes. I find myself also wondering why I am learning how to write these codes. The idea is to understand how the codes are used, and perhaps be able to tinker with them? It really is a question I have, because that part is not entirely clear. I understand the general idea is for us to get a feel for these codes, but I think if that feel includes just knowing they are there and what they’re used for, then we could probably accomplish that by learning about them rather than barely learning how to write them. If I were to spend the time that I spend going through the lessons (a few hours, perhaps) reading or seeing the code in action instead, I think I would walk away from the course having learned a considerable amount more.

I don’t want to get down on the Codecademy guys too much, though. They put a lot of work into creating their site, I’m sure. If I think too hard about the code that is behind each lesson (the actual code that makes the page function), I can almost make myself pass out. It’s intense to say the least. My only real complaint is the bugs that cause the user to question his work. When I find those bugs I wish the site was actually a for-profit site, so I could complain to the developers for creating something that makes me feel as though I’m living the Twilight Zone. I’m extremely thankful for the “nerds” who identify those bugs and post the solutions in the Q&A. Without those nerds, I think I’d truly be lost.

That said, PHP is pretty interesting (especially the fact it came from a guy who was presumably annoyed with everyone else’s code, and decided to make his own). It kind of makes me wonder why everyone doesn’t use it. But then I read about WordPress and realized pretty much everyone does. Thanks for that. I look forward to using it more myself. It has by far been the easiest code yet.

Till next lesson …