The Chronicles: Learning Web Development at Bitmaker Labs (Week 2)

The pace of the program provoked some thoughts on taking the time you need to do the things you want to do.


Feel like you need a catch-up? Read about my first week here.

Monday

On our first day back from the long weekend, we built a customer relationship application that allowed the user to add, modify, delete, and display contacts in the command line. Whew! I found this easy and fun to do because I could see its application in real life. Other assignments I have found to be not as easy or intuitive to complete because they were more abstract. I think this CRM assignment interested me more because I know I will build something with these features in the near future.

Tuesday

We dove into web servers and some of their key components on Tuesday. We learned about IP addresses (all computers and websites have IP addresses — they’re like phone numbers), ports (where we access computers, for example, we access websites through port 80), HTTP (the language & instructions for how websites/servers behave & communicate on the web), and different requests one can make to a server for information.

To solidify our understanding of web servers, our afternoon assignment had us build our own primitive web server using Ruby. I’m not sure if I completely grasped this, but luckily we’re not expected to run our programs on web servers we have built ourselves. It was definitely a mental stretch.

Wednesday

We used a framework called Sinatra (which is sort of like a mini version of Rails) to run our customer relationship application and a “Roladex” Ruby class to store the information in the server session (instead of a database) on Wednesday. It was pretty exciting to be able to see our work expressed (albeit in basic HTML) outside of the command line and to watch it work.

Thursday

On Thursday, we learned some HTML and CSS fundamentals that allowed us to style our app to make it more user-friendly. Check out my super colourful (and I totally admit very ugly) experiment:

I’m looking forward to spending some more time getting my design legs in the coming weeks.

Friday

We learned about HTML form attributes and input types needed to generate a working form on Friday morning, and in the afternoon we continued working on our customer relationship application by adding the ability to edit, delete, and show individual contacts on their own page.

Something I learned this week that is not related to programming

We’re moving really fast here at Bitmaker, and that means that students need to put in the time required to really understand the concepts the assignments attempt to solidify from each morning’s lesson. Even with this in mind, I caught myself leaving early after I’d completed my assignments a couple days this week because I was feeling tired or because I wanted to go home and relax or enjoy the nice weather outside.

Something I think we all need to remind ourselves of when we are dedicating time and resources to do something is to really do it. In this day and age (I sound like my mum… FRICK), we are always connected to other people and other things and it is so easy for us to only partially participate. It’s easy for the working man or woman to pull up emails while on vacation; easy for me to go on Instagram when I’m supposed to be relaxing for my yoga class; effortless for the son to scroll through his Twitter at the dinner table with mom and dad; and it’s so easy (probably the easiest) for the university student to spend hours on Facebook when they’re supposed to be studying. But these are meaningless distractions from what we’re actually trying to do: to vacation, to relax, to spend time with family, or to pass a course.

Let’s give ourselves the chance to really participate. Put that phone away, install Facebook Newsfeed Eradicator (trust me), and be there. Do it. And I will, too.

Want more? Read about week 3 here.

David Kim took this photo of me. He’s an amazing photographer.

Tara Mahoney is a freelance web designer & developer in Toronto, Ontario.

Give her a shout if you wanna chat, or check out some of her work here.