Posts about Coding Languages

My Top 5 Tools for Building Websites

April 7, 2016

You know that a website is made with HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Maybe you even know how to write in all three of those languages and put them together into a site, but something’s missing. Developers are supposed to be lazy, right? If all you’re using is plain old HTML, CSS and JavaScript to build more than the very simplest of projects, you’re doing too much work. Tools help us use solutions that already exist for common problems every developer faces. They let us strip out a lot of “coding overhead” and get down to the nitty gritty of actually writing our apps.

5 tools for building websites

Five great tools for building websites:


You’re Never Too Obtuse to Learn AngularJS

February 10, 2016

AngularJS is the most popular JavaScript framework currently being used. The only other JavaScript anything that sees more use is JQuery, but JQuery is more of a library. The fact that Angular is so popular means it’s a desirable skill to have on your resume. Bearing that in mind, let’s take a very high-level look at what makes Angular tick and some cool things you can do it you learn AngularJS.

What is AngularJS?

Learn to Code

At its core, Angular is a web application framework. The whole point of a framework is to streamline common tasks to make the whole process go more quickly.


Part 2: Using the Command Line for Beginners

January 11, 2016

You’ve already learned the basics of using the command line for beginners in Part 1. It’s time to get a bit more advanced. Now that we can move around and see where we are in our file system, we can use the file systems to create new files and directories. Personally, this is one set of commands that I find to be much faster than any method of creation offered by the operating system.

Typing into the Command Line

Setting up new directories & files

mkdir <new-directory-name> – This command is short for Make Directory. It may come as no surprise to you that this command creates a new directory. Like cd, mkdir needs an argument to use for the name of the new directory.

CMD-Demo - MKDIR make directory example
touch <new-file-name>
– Similar to mkdir, touch creates a new file. Also similar to mkdir, touch requires an argument to use for the new file’s name, including its suffix.


Preparing For Your First Tech Talk

January 5, 2016

We’re taught to believe that there is a logical progression when it comes to our careers, that there are just certain things you can’t do in entry-level positions. One of those things is undoubtedly speaking at conferences. Conference speakers, in this collective narrative, are subject matter experts with years and years of experience under their belts. They know their stuff better than just about anyone. I’m here to tell you that, at least in tech, this isn’t always the case. You can start speaking like a developer quite early on in your career!

Aisha Blake Speaking at a Conference (more…)

Part 1: Using the Command Line for Beginners

December 8, 2015

We all love shortcuts. CTRL + C to copy some text. Brownie mix. You name it. We find workarounds in all aspects of our lives to save time. For programmers, using the Command Line is a shortcut that makes certain tasks, like creating files and directories, faster and easier. Are you new to coding and looking for a way to up your programming game? Read James’ tips for using the command line for beginners!

Typing the Command Line

Using the Command Line Interface (CLI) or terminal for common operating system tasks can be intimidating. Personally, I was kind of resistant to learning how to do it when I started coding. Once I took the plunge I actually found that it was much faster to complete common operating system tasks, like creating files and directories. Now, doing it the ‘old way,’ like creating a new file in a text editor, feels very slow and clunky.

Getting started with the terminal is as easy as launching the Terminal on your OS X device (found in the Utilities folder in Applications. For this blog we will be using Unix commands. As OS X is based on Unix, all of these commands will work natively on a Mac. Are you a Windows user? Probably the easiest way to follow along would be to install a Unix-like environment such as Cygwin or the Git Bash terminal for Windows. (There’s also a more robust terminal called PowerShell, but including all of its commands is beyond the scope of this blog.)

Let’s get started! At first glance, most terminal commands look like the incoherent scribblings of an over-caffeinated five-year-old. That’s because almost all of the commands are abbreviations of the actual thing you want to do. This will seem clearer as you see a few of the commands and what they mean side by side.

Getting Around the Command Line & Terminal


Why I’ve Stopped Using Float in my CSS

October 26, 2015

Float is one of the most ubiquitous CSS properties that new students learn. As soon as the concept of using CSS for layout is introduced float becomes the standard option and is frequently one of the first taught. It has become so entrenched in web design as a tool for layout, that any curriculum that omits it would seem highly incomplete. So it may surprise you that I’ve stopped using float in my own designs and started cautioning my students to do the same. Why? I’m glad you asked!

James York, working with some students.

Would it interest you to know that float was never intended to be used for layout? At least, it was never intended to be used in the way it has been used most commonly. Float was originally included into the HTML specification as a way to mimic a common layout trick in the print industry. If you’ve ever looked at a newspaper or magazine, you’ve seen an image appearing in the body of an article with the text flowing down and around it. Float was introduced to allow designers to create similar layouts for webpages. At the time float was introduced, there were not a lot of options for creating columnar layouts that did not involved using tables. As we all know, using tables for layout is like wearing white after Labor Day in my homestate of Alabama. So in order to avoid being publicly shamed by southern Gramma’s everywhere, but still achieve two or three column layouts, designers began to float larger elements. After all, you can float pretty much anything. (more…)

JavaScript Testing: A Breakdown

September 10, 2015

Experienced developers agree that testing your code is important. Testing is a big subject worthy of thousands of blog articles, screencasts, conference talks, and consulting businesses. But let’s start small. One of the key steps in learning to create automated tests is creating unit tests. Unit tests are intended to test the smallest chunk of code we can (a unit).  For unit testing in Javascript, the two big testing frameworks are Jasmine  and Mocha .

The differences between the two largely boil down to set up and configurability. It’s worth noting that Jasmine is usually used with a browser and Mocha was created for testing Node (server code). However, both can be configured to test either front-end or server code.


Tips for Beginning Developers

September 1, 2015

I get a lot of questions from new coders who are just taking their first steps into the wide world of software development. These questions typically range from job availability, what language they should learn first, or how I became a developer.  


For background, I started out as a musician and got into software development in my early 30s. I pretty much had all the same questions when I was getting my start. There’s a lot of stress and tension when you’re making a decision as big as changing careers. First let me say this – take a breath. It’s not as bad as it seems. I’d like to focus on some of the technical advice I received and now give to the padawan learners I encounter (for you non-Star Wars fans, padawan = beginner) (more…)

A Friendly Intro to Version Control

August 31, 2015

The life of a developer is full of choices. The industry moves so quickly that there’s always some new tool to try or an updated best practice to incorporate. It’s impossible to pick the best overall framework or the most efficient workflow because different tools lend themselves better to different projects. That being said, there are certainly a few things that absolutely every developer should be comfortable with. Version control is one of those things. Don’t believe me? Check out our guide to preparing for a bootcamp!

When I think back to the very first websites I built as a kid, a chill runs down my spine. Hours upon hours of work could be completely lost if the power went out or I hit the wrong keys. Even if my site worked exactly the way I wanted it to, I’d have to save more than one copy if I ever wanted to go back to a previous version. (My file names got very creative!) This strategy for managing the different versions of my sites felt clumsy and wrong, but it wasn’t until much later that I was introduced to the concept of version control. (more…)

10 Things to Know About Java

August 17, 2015

If you’re reading this blog, you’ve probably done some research, but still need to choose which coding language to learn. There are a lot of great options that provide job prospects and stability, including JavaScript. However, if our Java Bootcamp is a contender, here are 10 things to know about the programming language you’ll master.