Spring 2019 Semester is over

I just turned in my last final for the Spring 2019 semester! It was quite the ride, but I learned a lot! Angular, MongoDB (NoSQL), Node.js, Express, Python3, Flask, Django, SASS, Jinja2, numerous HTML templating languages, Git, and deployment to Heroku and Digital Ocean!

This brings my total number of grad school credits in Computer Science up to 16–all from Harvard University’s Extension School. I’ve now completed the following courses:

Course Number Course Name Term University
CSCI E-50 Intensive Introduction to Computer Science Fall 2012 Harvard Extension School
CSCI E-3 Introduction to Web Programing Using JavaScript Fall 2018 Harvard Extension School
CSCI E-31 Web Application Development Using Node.JS Spring 2019 Harvard Extension School
CSCI E-33a Web Programming with Python and JavaScript Spring 2019 Harvard Extension School

But course titles only tell so much, right? These are the languages/frameworks/libraries/skills we covered:

  • HTML5
  • CSS
  • SASS
  • C
  • PHP
  • JavaScript (vanilla JS, including ES6, as well as jQuery)
  • Vue.js
  • Angular
  • Node.js
  • Express
  • Python3
  • Flask
  • Django
  • Multiple HTML templating languages, primarily Jinja2, Django Template Language, and Nunjucks, but to a lesser extent, Pug and Handlebars as well
  • MySQL
  • SQLite3
  • PostgreSQL
  • MongoDB
  • Git
  • Github Classroom and Github Pages
  • Deployment of web applications to Heroku and Digital Ocean

It’s been an adventure, but I love it, and am excited to continue my journey! I worked as a web developer once upon a time, back in 2001, “before it was cool” (just kidding), but got sidetracked by other things. The funny thing is, even while serving on active duty in the Air Force as a JAG/attorney, I ended up volunteering for extra duties such as being my organization’s Computer Systems Administrator, installing security patches and updates to networked government computers, backing up and restoring users’ data, and otherwise helping to ensure the security of our network. I also maintained a FreeBSD user guide just for fun, and worked with some nice folks at Sun Microsystems (now Oracle) to get PKCS#11 smart card support working on OpenSolaris, and later, Solaris 11 UNIX. In other words, regardless of my job title or “primary duties,” technology has always interested me, and I couldn’t stay away. Now I’m hoping to make a mid-life transition back into the career I started in prior to graduating from college!

This summer, lest all that wonderful knowledge I gained this semester grow stale, I’m taking “Modern React with Redux” and “Advanced React and Redux” through Udemy, because how can I be familiar with Vue.js and Angular, but not know React? It’s a completeness thing!

I plan to finish up a Web Technologies graduate certificate from Harvard next year, after taking the following additional grad school courses:

Course Number Course Name Term University
DGMD E-20 Modern and Mobile Front-End Web Design I Fall 2019 Harvard Extension School
DGMD E-25 Introduction to Web CMS Site Development Spring 2020 Harvard Extension School

That should “round me out” with more web design knowledge, and give me more familiarity with the popular Content Management Systems, WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla. I think in a field where people are known to participate in 9-week “coding bootcamps” and then launch a new career in web development, having 24 grad school credits (16 in Computer Science, and another 8 in Digital Media) can’t hurt. Not that there’s anything wrong with those coding bootcamps–if they lead budding web developers to a new career, awesome! I do want to be able to compete and get my own foot in the door, of course.

I know being a web developer’s not just about coursework, however, so I’m intent on honing my coding skills, hence taking non-graded courses on React this summer. I also want to expand my knowledge-base beyond just web development, and into broader computer programming topics, so I’m hoping to take additional courses (probably not for a grade) on Mobile App Development and Introduction to Game Development. Why not? I’ve completed the graded coursework I have out of personal interest, not because my Juris Doctor or my attorney’s license are incapable of helping me earn a living. Yes, my goal is to get hired as a web developer (front-end, back-end, or full-stack), but that doesn’t mean I’m not curious about writing mobile apps, or even computer games for that matter!

Here’s a glimpse of my final project from CSCI E-33a, which is a Django 2.2 / Python 3.6 app I wrote to help manage data pertaining to one of my hobbies, genetic genealogy:

Index view after most functionality added - 2019-05-09

And here’s a glimpse of my final project from CSCI E-31, an Angular app that communicates with a Node.js/Express server’s REST APIs to support display, creation, updating, and deletion of both images and comments/replies:

Completed application running from Express server after ng build - 2019-05-14

They might not look like much, but building a web page (or a blog post) using a CMS like WordPress and writing the logic for a web server and a front-end that dynamically displays and updates content are very different things! I’m grateful that this semester I got the opportunity to learn how the server-side of things works, and different ways to interact with server-side content. API routes, in particular, were a lot of fun to build, then consume.

So that was my most recent semester at Harvard Extension School! I look forward to diving into React and Redux, then broadening my programming knowledge while at the same time focusing on more of the design aspects of web development to supplement the programming/software engineering piece. Then, I hope to find an entry-level position somewhere as a web developer, because I really enjoy this and would love to get paid to do it.

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