Sometime in the last week I leveled up.
Three months ago, “programming” meant following along with a Getting Started guide for something I’d picked for my stack (Python/Flask/React).
I graduated from rote copying of the basics to rote copying with more functionality. Google does great with “Build Your First App.”
One of the posts I found, a more in-depth Getting Started with React blog by Dave Ceddia, suggested that the right next step was to build a small project on your own. In that post, Dave linked 6 ideas for small apps to try. I picked the Weather App went to work.
It took me almost two weeks to finish my app. I went with the slightly more enhanced version he suggested, and it felt like I was “really programming.”
This push to finally learn to code came from a new startup idea I had –– something that seemed simple enough to build if (only) I had the skills. After the weather app, feeling impatient and emboldened by my successs, I decided it was time to work on my startup.
Unfortunately, I was met with a rude awaking and floundered without the ready hand-holding of a blog tailored to task. I spent a ton of time on Stack Overflow and “programming” mostly meant reading documentation.
Fortunately, my brother, an excellent Software Engineer and patient teacher, willingly bailed me out. He explained things that still felt out of reach after reading the docs, and his reminders about my progress kept me moving after a day of feeling like I’d gotten nowhere.
Two weeks into this much bigger and more daunting project, “programming” meant writing spaghetti code and spending an hour over video chat getting unstuck by my brother. My progress without his aid was only slightly above zero.
Two days ago, I went to call my brother and realized that it’d been five days since I last asked for help.
I am rearchitecting some of my app; I feel close to finishing my MVP and the code and choices I made at the beginning of this project are obviously bad now.
“Programming” today feels more like problem-solving I wanted: working with my tools instead of fighting against them.
I still check Stack Overflow plenty and constantly reference the docs. I still call my brother for help. But I feel like a programmer now.