Honey, I Broke the App

It’s been twenty-five days since I started working on Checkpoint 1: days filled with almost equal parts frustration and excitement. There’s a lot I’ve learned and a fair amount I’ve had to unlearn on the path to building a web app around an inverted index data structure of my own design while adjusting to a new environment, contributing to my team’s Simulations project and dealing with ever-present health issues.

To start with, I’ve unlearned (at least in some part) my tendency to question my programming ability. I approached several fellows from older classes for reviews and help with bugs and blockers, and to absolutely no one’s amazement but mine none of them immediately burst into laughter and announced that I was a fraudulent hack to the entire room. Working with them was actually fun, and bouncing my thoughts and ideas off more experienced people was more productive than wrestling with them alone.

I’m still fairly new to web development — it’s about a couple of months since I first wrote a proper line of Javascript — and I had to acquire a lot of skills on the go: AngularJS, Passport, working with Mongoose (I’d decided to take things a little further by integrating authentication and cloud storage). I’ve fallen in love with AngularJS, and in implementing authentication I’ve learned a bit about security. There was also a lot I had to learn about building a project according to convention, from linting to code coverage to deployment environments.

Strangely enough, writing the inverted index class itself was not difficult at all; within a day of being assigned the task I had a solid grasp on how to implement it. It was the single-page app I built around it that just kept breaking.

And breaking.

And breaking.

Working through bug after bug took up most of the time I spent on Checkpoint 1. There was the time I forgot to update my bindings during an asynchronous process. There was the time I refactored all but one mention of a variable and completely broke my search functionality. There was the time my modals suddenly stopped working for no good reason. There was the time one of my buttons refused to be centered no matter how much CSS I threw at it. There was the time my Travis build failed and there was literally no log to discern the problem from. Some of them led to hours and even days of frustration, when Google was of no help because I didn’t even know what question to ask. But collaboration, critical thinking and a fair bit of sheer dumb luck eventually came to my rescue.

I came to Andela in search of fun and challenges, and these past four weeks have certainly delivered on the “challenge” part. It’s also been great fun, especially my interactions with other fellows. This was quite an experience, and I’m looking forward to my second checkpoint — after I check that my app hasn’t broken again…

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