Getting my learning on

posted by Jeff | Thursday, May 16, 2019, 11:38 PM | comments: 0

I don't write code for work anymore. At the scale where you have 30+ people reporting indirectly or directly to you, you really couldn't do it even if you wanted to. At the same time, if you're going to make decisions about engineering, you should know what you're talking about, and what your leaders bring to you. I know how important this is from being on the other side (with managers who absolutely did not understand anything about engineering), and it makes a huge difference. To that end, having a project where I can always be building something serves as both a tool to keep me rooted in some kind of vague legitimacy, and also be a hobby. I also find that education in software development is super critical to the advancement of the field, and I can't just talk about it.

After Node.js came out and a massive world of front-end web tooling and frameworks started growing out of control, there was a crazy amount of specialization that started to occur between front-end people and everyone else. The specialization annoys me, because it's harder to find developers who can build something end-to-end as a vertical piece of functionality. But I'm a little guilty of this myself. Even when I was doing the consulting work a few years ago, I generally didn't get beyond some recreational basics around whatever front-end tech we were using (and in my defense, it was an appropriate level of knowledge for the job). I still never felt good about it though, because I had all of these false starts on Angular and React. A year and a half ago I toyed with Vue.js, and I really liked it, but never followed through.

For me to learn something new, I need to apply it to something in a practical way. So I decided that I would convert the admin area of my forum app into a single-page app using Vue.js. It's around 20 forms of various kinds, with some of it more interesting than other parts, and no significant validation or guard rails, because it's so infrequently used. But whatever, I wanted to at least port it to use Vue, and so that's what I did.

Unlike my false starts, I immediately "got it" in part because I didn't have to get super deep into all of the surrounding stuff that goes into modern Javascript (i.e., the bundling, transpiling and the like). I get those things because I've had to troubleshoot some CI builds, but Vue was appealing because I could just not use any of that, if I wanted.

I really enjoyed learning about Vue. I'm no Vue-master (see what I did there?), but I now feel pretty confident about how to use it going forward, in the very hybrid way that the forum will likely go eventually.

It's a relief that after 20 years at this, I can still learn new tricks.


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