Progress Reflection

Challenges and Obstacles

It’s week four and my progress so far has been considerable. These journal posts are beginning to write more easily and reflecting on my working practise less painful. In this journal post I will look back week by week and reflect on what I’ve learnt and the challenges that have cropped up. In true Agile style and from what I’ve learnt so far this week, I will end with a SMART goal.

Week One (The Creative Piece)

In week one, the creative piece, I struggled with the open brief to “create an app concept”. I spent much of my time dithering between what type of application I should create and trying to understand what the course was trying to see from me during the week. Was the focus on the process of how I come up with a creative idea or on the actual idea? I struggled with the idea that I should create a concept for an application without any previous market research or more importantly what market to develop for.

On reflection, I approach most situations in my career as a Field Service Engineer or Developer in an analytical manor and solve most problems by taking each aspect of the problem and working a solution around them in a creative manor. It stands to reason that I would attempt to use the same process here but finding no pre-defined “Jobs to be Done” made the experience difficult.

Looking back, I don’t think my approach to the task was terrible. With an open brief I put forward three distinctly different concepts which fit with the theme and I enjoyed thinking through how I might possibly make an application I wouldn’t necessarily create in normal circumstances, stepping outside of my comfort area. Learning from week one I would say that I should spend more time on the conceptual idea, play with possibilities and mull over different conceptual solutions more before moving into the details of an implementation.

Week Two (Tools and Languages)

Week two, Tools and Languages, was a really enjoyable but a time consuming experience. I came to the course with some predefined aims:

  • Learn a server side web technology that I can harness to implement a licensing system for Stamp and any other applications I make in the future.
  • Learn C++ and QT to build cross platform applications for ETC, my current employer, so that I might be better qualified to take a full time position as a Developer for them.

Taking the time to list and research the breadth of technologies I would need to study for both of these aims was a challenging task, comparing one Integrated Development Environment (IDE) or language over another was difficult with limited knowledge of each of the processes as a whole. Many of the decisions I made as to which language or software to use for a process were taken from recommendations by industry professionals. Much of my process when starting to learn something new is to copy the leaders in that area and through time and experience learn why these specific tools are chosen for the job. It was during this week that I had successfully identified a wealth of knowledge and courses from industry professionals and began this process whilst also discovering how much there was to learn. Had I bitten off more than I could chew, with learning both server side web development and C++ with QT?

Week Three (The App Jam)

In week three the App Jam took place. I boldly took Laravel on and progressed, with not too much struggling, to create a web application to education a user about an application. There were many challenges I had to overcome and are individually explained in my journal post. I learnt that picking Laravel was the correct decision. The support I got from online tutorials and the community throughout the app jam was incredible and by the end of the 24 hours I really felt I had a firm grasp of the basics of the framework and confident that I could begin expanding outside of the scope of tutorials to build my own web application. To that end, I really need to work on my front end development, understanding how the user interface for a web application is made so that I can present all of the back end data that I have built to the user in a nice human readable way.

Summary

With regard to my predefined aims, I am certainly working on a good trajectory, learning web development technologies. My confidence and knowledge within the area is growing and I feel I am getting to a stage where I can start to take online guides and tutorials a step further and to adapt techniques to my own needs. Further thought and consideration should be made with my education towards C++ with the QT framework. At the moment though, this can be considered a lesser priority and should be approached when I have a more fuller understanding of web development technologies and time permits.

SMART Action:

  • Specific - I will research front end web technologies that I can use in conjunction with Laravel to create a custom designed user interface for my app jam project.
  • Measurable - I will find three front end web technologies and compare them against each other.
  • Achievable - I will use educational websites such as pluralsight and laracasts to initially start my research and point me in the right direction for further examination.
  • Relevant - Learning front end web development will be required to present my app jam project as a finished product and allow for a clean and enjoyable experience for the user.
  • Time-bound - I will spend one week researching three different front end web technologies.