The Odin Project - A Journey

Here we go then, the start of something big...maybe. In an attempt to avoid being one of those that fizzles out half way through I've decided to blog my way through The Odin Project course.

What is the Odin Project?

If you don't know about The Odin Project, go and take a quick look. It's FREE, and it's a great resource that brings together all sorts of tutorials and information from around the web in a logical and consistent package that anyone can follow along and learn with.

It basically creates a structured 'course' to follow so you can learn how to be a Web Developer.

Be warned though, it's not something you can do in a weekend. It'll likely take months of hard work to complete the whole thing, but it's one of the best 'teach yourself' courses that I've come across and I highly recommend it.

Just to give you some idea - whilst I'm writing this on the date of posting (19th May 2015), I actually started the first chapter of the Odin Project a few months ago. Just getting through the opening 'knowledge building' section took me far longer than I thought!

I knew a great deal about the basics of the web, how things are put together and how things like backend and frontend work together. But this course really gave me the tools to fill in the gaps in my knowledge.

If I'd skipped a few bits or spent 8 hours a day studying I definitely could have done things faster, but having that well rounded knowledge gained over a few months of relaxed learning served me well in the following chapter.

Why am I doing this?

Prior to starting the course I've been building my own websites for years, and even some 'professionally' for a few business friends. I also host the main website and forum for a popular open source tool, having 'built' the site myself.

But...hacking together a site whilst relying on the work of others does not a Web Developer make. I've relied heavily on tools like Wordpress, Headway Themes, bbpress and Gravity Forms, amongst many many others.

...hacking together a site whilst relying on the work of others does not a Web Developer make.

I know a good deal of HTML and CSS but I know almost nothing about Javascript, let alone backend languages like Ruby or Go or Python or PHP etc etc. I'm able to quickly put together sites using those tools above and could likely make a bit of money doing so if I really pushed for it.

But my preference is to go from the ground up and give myself a strong knowledge base, not just decent capabilities within the confines of a few tools.

Progress so far...

I've completed the first part of the curriculum and am now well into the second, but I couldn't blog about it until now because I refused to use a site I hadn't 'handmade' myself.

This site for example - it uses the fantastic Static Site Generator 'Hugo' but I've hand written the HTML and CSS and heavily customised almost all aspects of the original 'NoFancy' theme, even diving into some of the Go Templates.

It's been an enlightening and empowering process that's left me 'in charge' of my code. Having full control over the HTML and the CSS is actually easier than hacking at complex frameworks in a bid to get them to do what you want.

Who knew?!

What's next?

I've just completed the HTML and CSS basics course (which includes the HTML and CSS track on CodeCademy) and a rebuild of the Google homepage, so I'll be blogging about that shortly.

Then the real fun begins. Next up is Javascript. I've done no programming ever, save for a couple of 'gameified' graphical attempts that I learnt nothing from.

The next step should be the real step into the future and the unknown.

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