Project 1 Week 3/4: Finally Learning

GOAL: Just do some JavaScript, for real this time.

I’m feeling much better about my goal to just start with building a very simple web app, and then maybe a viz for the next project!

Now that I have the lay of the land, and have learned a lot more about D3 and its scope, I can charge forward with Shirley Wu’s advice to start small with introductory lessons.

Codecademy felt a little too introductory and tedious, so I found a step by step guide to building a very simple web app.

I immediately ran into trouble with the web app guide, though, since I didn’t understand the first step. So, I went to LinkedIn Learning to get more introductory materials. I found this intro to tools, which I wish I’d seen earlier on. I’m all set up with Visual Studio, but will switch to using a browser now that I know I can. This introductory course is much better than Codecademy.

So, I’ve rerouted once again and now I feel like I have finally found a resource that fits my needs and skill level. I’m going to just go through the LinkedIn Learning course for JavaScript! And I’ll get a certification on my profile out of it, which is nice.

I’ve found that LinkedIn Learning is much better because you get more practical application value upfront, so you feel like you’re actually learning to build something much faster. I can easily skip past sections I already feel comfortable with, like data types.

Essentially, I took the past 2 weeks to figure out the scope of D3.js, how to best teach myself JavaScript, and a variety of ways it works. I also found a D3 course that I think will be best for my next project!

Project 1 Week 2/4: Rerouting

GOAL: Just do some JavaScript!

Today I’d like to just play around and experiment with JavaScript. I’m fixing a mistake from last week and downloading an actual IDE (Visual Studio IDE) instead of Visual Studio Code. I installed Node.js and also a Python environment for use later. I did have to clean out my computer to make space for it, which took a considerable amount of time.

I opened my first web application project and had no idea what to do! So I decided to run through some of the Codecademy JavaScript tutorials to get me started. I did a few of them and felt very familiar with the syntax since it is similar to many other languages. I decided to move on to finding tutorials for beginning D3 users.

To do this I once again returned to looking for resources posted by Shirley Wu. I found an interactive introduction but it was a little confusing. I decided to browse her r/dataisbeautiful AMA and look for anyone with similar questions. I found someone in a similar position to me and she said the following:

“Taking the jump into a full on programming language is quite a bit, so I’d say start with the basics such as taking free courses about JavaScript as well as reading introductory books would be a great self start.

D3js has a very steep learning curve, even seasoned JavaScript vets have difficulties at time with learning it I’ve found. You’ll want to get a solid foundation on the web (HTML + CSS + JavaScript) before jumping into it.

When you start learning D3js, don’t focus on learning the big JS frameworks like react or angular; instead get a basic HTML scaffold going, figure out how to query for your dataset, and then dive into doing things with that data via D3js.

Avoid using frameworks that make use of D3js when you’re starting out, as the only way to truly learn a language or JS framework is to dive into it and not abstract a lot of the intricacies.”

This advice corroborates my difficulties getting started. It’s a lot to jump into for someone with little web development experience.

This is why I’m deciding to switch my project to web development first, then D3.js for the next portion!

Maybe starting with the more attainable goal of building a simple JavaScript web app will help.