My JavaScript journey. Study, Zac Gordon and the JavaScript For WordPress Summer Cohort

My love for code. But I am not an academic!

It’s been a struggle at times, not for the want of trying though. As a self taught coder of XHTML and CSS way back in the good ol’ days of WYSIWYG Dreamweaver the bug and excitement for learning more has grown exponentially ever since.

Even though I come from a graphic design background ( way before tech ( I am not just pre-tech I am pre-historic clearly ) my day to day activity involved marker pens / paper and print. The move to coding was and is unbeatable. Part of that attraction I am sure is the difficulty and challenge it brings to learn this wonderful world of web development, with so many choices of language, frameworks, front-end, back-end, devops, UX and on and on.

So not being an ‘academic’ and a naturally gifted individual in the grey matter I was determined to gain traction and make a name for myself, in my own little world of mastering JavaScript.

The journey so far

I have spent a fair amount of money and time so far on JavaScript e-books, reading and understanding ( or so I thought ). With intense enthusiasm and determination I have ‘battled on’, each time making some progress in places, only to try a different approach and find either a different way, or thinking that I have been walking the wrong path. It’s been a couple of years of study. It’s all been enjoyable but I felt like I was treading water a lot of the time.

I saw something and couldn’t wait for it to launch

There is a genius and an incredibly infectious ‘smiler’ that goes by the name of Zac Gordon. I had no prior knowledge of Zac until I came across a snippet of a Treehouse course but then an announcement of an upcoming online course for ‘Learning JavaScript Deeply‘. This phrase was of course coined by the mighty Matt Mullenweg, the centre of WordPress. My business Weblake had pivoted to specialise in WordPress a while before.

WordPress began to move in all the right directions towards becoming more than a simple blogging platform. All of a sudden we saw development roadmaps that were decoupling the component of WordPress and allowing for incredible functionality into the future. It was becoming even more attractive and even more exciting.

I loved JavaScript and I loved WordPress and the two were coming together! Boom!

I just couldn’t wait for Zac’s new JavaScript For WordPress course. The earlybird offer was snatched out of the nest and the weeks of waiting for launch of Zac’s course were agonising.

Then it came…

It was countdown and the day had arrived. The launch of the Javascript For WordPress course. It was everything I was expecting and within hours I had learned more that I had picked up in years of self study. Most definitely part of that progress was aided by the infectious ‘Zac accent’. You can actually hear him smiling as you listen to his narrative of his course videos. Even down to the sound effect of the content pages in the video shifting on, the whole package is designed beautifully. It’s impossible not to make progress with these ingredients.

If there was ever going to be a frustration, it was the fact I was moving through the course quicker than Zac could publish his new content. Being such a sought after educator and developer it was clear that Zac’s ambitious road map for the course had to deviate a little, but all for good reason. Success breeds success eh?

I wish my cashflow had been healthier at the time …

…as I would have taken part in Human Made’s ‘A Week Of REST’ last year. Knowing Zac was there as a tutor made the event for me but nah, just couldn’t afford it sadly.

But the best was yet to come!

The enthusiasm gained in this amazing world of JavaScript have led me to investigate the major and popular frameworks out there. Angular, React and now Vue. Also the world of Node.js has been gripped. Yet I come back to the ‘non academic’ in me… it will always be a challenge but I am sure also that I put additional pressure on myself to ‘get it right’. I keep ‘battling on’ to this day…

I mustn’t ever forget I am a designer first and foremost and classed myself as a frustrated developer in the past whilst Imposter Syndrome had fun with me. Those days are gone ( there’s another blog post in there somewhere ) so I am now a fully fledged ‘Developer with design skills’. I like that. It feels and sounds good. I am qualified!

So with this ongoing love of everything WordPress and JavaScript and the goodness of Zac Gordon’s teachings, we were recently blessed with a new Udemy WordPress Developer course ( there’s another blog post in there also ), but something eclipsed that as it was launched just before the Udemy course and that was a JavaScript For WordPress Summer Cohort. It looked almost too good to be true. Direct access to Zac via a Slack channel and monthly video calls with Zac and the group. All of this over the course of a year. A weekly checkin on Slack is also there to keep you on track.

Now I will make this perfectly clear, I am in absolutely no way affiliated with Zac, I am not receiving any type of commission of incentive for this review / post about Zac and his teachings / courses. I am purely wanting to ‘big up’ this great man who has an incredibly natural way of teaching. Zac has a natural and accessible way of making you feel valued and capable in what you are learning and achieving. I believe in credit where it is due, Zac deserves the credit and I also believe there are many many ‘designers’ out there that may feel overwhelmed or not worthy of moving into the world of web development and could benefit from reading this summary.

The Summer Cohort has been brilliant and we have only just begun. To sit at my laptop with my fellow Cohort students dotted around the world and us all have Zac appearing there in the same screen, talking to ‘us’ and addressing us all personally was actually beyond real in the first couple of video sessions, it’s still surreal third session in. This course was an investment. Yes it cost more than a Udemy or Eudonix course but that’s for good reason. To have direct access to Zac is worth the price of my investment ten fold. I have made incredible progress and not just progress but incredible understanding in JavaScript and vanilla JavaScript at that. I am finally ‘Learning JavaScript Deeply‘. Matt Mullenweg will be pleased.

So where now?

My next stop is the next check in with Zac and our Cohort next Monday, as much time as I can manage ( around my business, life and my commitment to being Design Lead for WordCamp London 2018 ) working through the rest of the course. I really look forward to the next video session and discussing progress as a group. Hearing my fellow JS students also making progress spurs me on further. We are all in this together.

I am so excited about the future, the future of me and my JavaScript Development career and the future of Zac’s JavaScript For WordPress course. Also so excited about the future of WordPress.

We have just seen the about turn of React and their licensing ( how short sighted that was on their part, but pleasing to see the about turn ).

As I gain more confidence in my JS ability I will share more technical views and findings in my website. The ultimate goal here is to develop a Weblake JS app of some kind and that will happen I know, because I have the skills, knowledge and enthusiasm there in buckets.

I believe Zac has another enrollment coming soon for a Master Course Cohort. Absolutely do yourself a favour and invest in this fantastic programme. Please do reach out on this website or via Twitter if you want to ask me more privately. No strings. No commission, just thanks and admiration to Zac and his ‘infectious way’. All JS credit where it’s due. Thank you Zac for making this journey so damn exciting and enjoyable. So much learning and hunger for more!

Now I am off to perform some more deep learning of the beauty and intrigue that is JavaScript and how I can fit that into WordPress. It’s like Gin and Tonic. Lovely!

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