Introducing the Udacity Alumni Web Team

For the last two months the Udacity Alumni community, under the leadership of Udacity’s David Harris and Tyler Morgan, has sponsored a collaborative engineering project to build a web platform for the purposes of connecting Udacity Alumni from around the world. As the Engineering Team Lead for the community, it is my pleasure to introduce you to the Udacity Alumni web team, and to share with you details of this exciting project.

To date, we have received over 800 contributions to our collective projects from more than 20 Udacity Alumni engineers from around the globe. We have achieved the impossible, successfully building a web platform from the ground up with nothing more than the hard-work of our contributors.

The Udacity Alumni Web Team

One thing all Udacity Alumni have in common is that we’ve invested a tremendous amount of time and energy into our education, watching countless hours of online lectures, reading technical books and papers and practicing our crafts through Nanodegree projects. In short, we are a very talented group of individuals with a wide array of skills and knowledge.

In building the Udacity Alumni web application, the goal was to unite our talents in an effort to build a web platform that can serve as the hub for the Udacity Alumni community. Beginning in early October, we began working on the first version of the project, focusing on building a bespoke publishing and content management platform to allow for administrators of the site to post information relevant to the community.

As of this writing, we have completed the majority of this functionality, and are nearing an alpha release. Over the coming months, we will continue building out the interactive features of the platform, adding features such as the ability to schedule and attend meetup events, collaborate on projects, engage with community mentors, and so much more.

Cutting-Edge Technologies

Please note, the following section contains a significant amount of technical language. If you find that you’re not following it all, we highly recommend the Udacity Front End Web Developer Nanodegree courses: Front End Frameworks, JavaScript Design Patterns, Intro to Progessive Web Applications and Object Oriented JavaScript.

As leaders of the Front End engineering team, Andreas Daiminger and I started off this project by building a popular open-source React micro-framework / boilerplate project. Our goal was to integrate cutting-edge web tooling, server-side rendered React, and the feature-first architectural pattern into a consistent starter project, one that now has nearly 100 stars on Github and has been used in over a dozen outside projects. The Udacity Alumni Client application began its life as a fork of this very project.

To date, we have built hundreds of reusable React components, which makes this project a true feat of engineering. We’ve integrated the Grommet UX framework, providing our site with cutting-edge UX and accessibility features. As our code-base grew, we recognized that we had an opportunity to transfer much of our React code into a reusable user interface library and recently have started an effort to do just that.

from the Project lead:

“Developing with our setup and component-oriented React is like the Ikea of Programming.” — David Harris

In other words, we have taken component-oriented architecture to the extreme and have built a web application by combining small pieces together in a predictable manner. It’s a bit like playing with legos, or assembling furniture from Ikea.

On the back end side of this project, we started with a typical Ruby on Rails API and soon realized that REST would not scale as well as we had hoped. To solve this, we integrated GraphQL to sit between our front-end client and the API. This allowed us to collocate our data-fetching logic declaratively within our React containers using the ApolloClient library.

We have built this application using technologies that are proven to scale, using an architectural pattern that facilitates code reuse and following testing and stylistic best-practices. Working on this project has been an engineering dream come true for all of us and we expect that it will stand the test of time.

Showcasing Our Talents, Showcasing Our Community

Working together we have built the foundations of a web platform, and in doing so we have strengthened the bonds of our community. What we have built together is so much more than just a website. It is a showcase of our collective talents and of all that we are able to accomplish by working together. I look forward to seeing what more we are able to accomplish, and I am confident that this is just the first of many great Udacity Alumni community achievements.

The Inaugural Udacity Alumni Web Team

David Harris — Project Lead & Full Stack Engineer

I’m a full stack web software engineer and the project lead for the Udacity Alumni App. I’m currently building new web development curriculum content at Udacity. I’m also a founding member of Udacity’s Nanodegree Alumni Leadership board and a community manager for Udacious People, a student-led Udacity Slack community.

Ryan C. Collins — Engineering Team Lead

Hi, I’m Ryan. I’m a software engineer working on the web, specializing in React JavaScript & GraphQL. I’m a (nearly) three-time Udacity Alumni, an avid functional programmer and aspiring data scientist studying Machine Learning and AI in my free-time. As the leader of the Udacity Alumni web team, my goal is to enable all of our contributors to perform at their top capacity by providing them with cutting-edge tools and guiding them to use the best-practices that make me a top-performing engineer.

Andreas Daiminger — Front End Engineering Team Lead

Front end ninja and aspiring data scientist on his way to gain technological empathy.

Abigail Mathews — Back End Engineering Team Lead

James Gallagher — Devops Team Lead

Dedicated Back-End Web Developer, focusing on building PaaS Services and RESTful API’s. Utilizing the latest back-end and dev-ops technologies to build powerful back-end services, web applications, API’s and more. Architecture and simplicity is paramount, and integrated seamlessly throughout all projects.

Front End Team

Martin Breuss

Hei! :) I’m an aspiring many-things dropped into the world of programming. I’m also a triple-Nanodegree-alumni and Udacity tutor in multiple roles. Since recently I’m part of a small team building a startup about language learning.

Kelli Blalock

I am based in the Seattle area and love building web apps with JavaScript and other front-end technologies. I also enjoy working on projects with Python.

Treefish Zhang — Full Stack Engineer

Front End and Full Stack Nanodegree graduate and core-contributor to the Udacity Alumni web application.

James Ives

Full Stack Developer hailing from London. 🇬🇧

Abhishek Ghosh

Hi my name is Abhi and I am a 🕸 developer working with 🐍 and 🛤

Back End Team

Ronny Hoesada — Ruby on Rails Developer

Full Stack Engineer, specializing in Ruby on Rails. Core-contributor to the Udacity Alumni web platform.

Chashmeet Singh

Hi, I’m Chashmeet. I am a freelancer and specialize in both web as well as mobile application development. I’m passionate about what I do, and I love to help people out.

Mikael Mukhsikaroyan — Full Stack iOS Developer

Full Stack iOS Engineer working with Swift and Python. Aspiring Wizard studying Computer Science.

Misc Contributors

Kalindi Fonda — General Support and Front End Contributor

Do you belong here? Please let us know!

Screenshots from the Udacity Alumni App

What fun would it be writing about all of our hard work without being able to show some of it off? Below are a few screenshots from the application, which is being hosted on a staging platform as we prepare for release (Please note that the data hosted on our site is fake seed data for the purposes of testing the app).

Homepage / News Feed
Carousel Widget
User Profile
User Dashboard
Article Dashboard
CMS Editor, ala Medium
CMS Editor Preview
Article Page

Join Us!

We are currently seeking passionate Udacity Alumni who are willing to help contribute to the growth of our platform. Whether it be contributing code, performing code-reviews, writing documentation and tests, or helping us to organize our weekly stand-up meetings, your contributions will have a meaningful impact on the direction of the platform, and will help us to reach our goal of uniting life-long learners from around the world.

If you are a Nanodegree graduate and are eager to help, we would be delighted to hear from you. You can reach out to us through the Udacity Alumni #alumni-web-app channel, by email or respond in the comments below. From all of us in the Udacity Alumni Community, we look forward to working with you!

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