I’m finally committed to blog (a junior developer journey)

The logo of my company, JGB! Neat Design

Hey I want to share my story with you as a junior web/mobile developer.

I’m currently living in Delmas, Port-au-Prince, Haiti and have been playing with tech for a couple of years now. Live many developers, I’m self taught. But it doesn’t mean I’ve never been to schools to learn about computers. I’ve been to professional schools to universities for a while to learn those stuff and learned quite a bit. But the real fun begins when you learn by yourself, what really interests you. And since I’ve always been intrigued by the web, pursuing a career as web developer was obvious. Especially when I started learning HTML and CSS back at the university. It wasn’t much, but I knew that’s what I wanted to do. So armed with my Google experiences, I went ahead and started looking for basic web tutorials and books, and learned some basic stuff.

The time came for me to do something practical. Yeah I could put together a simple ugly web page locally, but it didn’t mean much. I found Blogger, created a simple blog on it. But not for blogging like most people use it for. I had a big interest in music so I used it to post YouTube videos, embed music from third party services that offered that kind of functionality. I customized the blogger site, created a menu, learned how to work with various HTML widgets and so on. It was more than 5 years ago. Then I met WordPress. Blogger was cool in its way but I wanted to hack more and have more freedom and resources to experiment. And since I wanted build more interesting stuff and always seeking to use easiest tools to get the job done, WordPress was the obvious choice. After having created an account on https://wordpress.com, I quickly realized it was too limited. So I looked for free (then paid) hosting to host my WordPress.org website.

Then I kept hacking (hacking == learning) with free and premium WordPress themes and various other tools. All this while wanting to build something useful for people, a music website that works. I quickly realized (again) that while the premium theme I was using was nice, it wasn’t still at my taste. I started digging into the source code of the theme, directly on the WordPress administration (never do that, please) to change the theme language. And I did. Having learned a bit more PHP and JavaScript along the way, I decided to build my custom WordPress theme. Remember I’m Haitian, I love our native language, which is creole. So I wanted to do something original, a customized theme tailored to my website’s needs would be ideal. I read a couple of WordPress books and started hacking. After a couple of months, yeah months (maybe 2), my new website was functional with my custom built WordPress. I learned a lot: Twitter Bootstrap and jQuery on the front-end, PHP and MySQL on the back-end. Made use of custom post type because I couldn’t stand having to post music in the text area of the default post type, thought that there should be a better way and there was. I used some plugins to help put together the functionalities and I did. Woo-ooh! It was a big step for me. It’s worth noting that while I was gaining experience and knowledge through my own project (projects actually, I worked on a few others), I also started working for clients.

TL;DR. Fast forward a couple years and I switched from WordPress to Laravel (4.2 then. Now 5.2) because I needed more functionalities. Allow users (artists) to create their account and post their musics and YouTube videos on their own. Do I need to say how much I also learned along the way? I read a couple of books and was writing Object Oriented PHP and using MySQL on the sever; Twitter Boostrap, jQuery and some advanced JavaScript frameworks (Backbone, AngularJS, now VueJS) on the front-end. NodeJS, Less, ES6, Webpack and other tools for bundling and asset managements. I also got some experience working on remote Linux servers, SSH’ing into them to install various softwares for my web application, using Git and Github to manage source code and deploy softwares and tons of other tools and technologies. I also gained some experience build hybrid mobile applications with Apache Cordova, Phonegap and Ionic. Planning to to push a couple in the Play Store soon in 2017.

Now back to the main topic of this post: I will finally start blogging. I don’t know if you noticed, but I’m an avid reader. I learned most of what I know either through books, online tutorials or videos. And my skill as Googler plays a big part of it. Yes I read a lot. And I learn a lot too. But I’ve also heart (and kind of experience it too from many of whom I learn) that teaching others is one of the best way to learn. So I’ve always wanted to blog about the little (be humble) knowledge I got in this field. I tried many times and I failed. Partly because I was too lazy to do it. And also because I was too busy through reading because I thought I didn’t know enough to be able to share.

But every time I’m working on a new project, doing something new, I always have to Google stuff I don’t know. And I think I could share that little trick I just learned so others can benefit from it. But a few minutes later the will is gone. And now I’m willing to change that, forever.

I built my personal site sometimes ago, it was a portfolio site with the various work I’ve done and ways for clients to contact me. I rebuilt it and hosted on Github Pages, through my learning of that platform. I also created a blog with WordPress. But I wanted to use it as a back-end only, so I used Lumen (a micro framework extracted and customized from Laravel) as a proxy and API. I used a package called Corcel to help me deal with the database. I used UIkit and AngularJS to build the front-end built as a Single Page Application that consumes the Lumen API. An SPA is cool, really cool. But it can also be a pain in the ass to manage. So now I’m ditching the proxy and the SPA to just use a custom built portfolio site with WordPress that will also host my blog. I do that mainly because of SEO, and also because I could use that time and energy to build cooler stuff while blogging about it. I read about the prerender.io service and something about their integration with a NodeJS server, but I wanted to start simple. So I’m using WordPress for that. It seems to be the right tool for that job too.

This post ends up to be longer than I thought. I know that seems weird, I don’t write a lot but when I do I got a lot to write about. So if there’s anyone reading this post, I hope you’ve learned something here and feel a bit motivated to blog if you wanted to do that too. And also for more experienced developers and bloggers, advice are welcome. I want every bit. So please comment.

Thanks for reading!