by @jm3 · aka John Manoogian3

Frequent, bite-size mini-milestone updates as I fast-forward merge* my front-end web development skills up to 2019 levels. Learn more

Today we learn

Posted at — Jun 10, 2019


I’ve been writing web code and publishing without permission since I could reach a keyboard. I’ve built dozens of web-apps and web sites, some of which were wildly successful, and many of which were not. Plus One reached over a million users. Zivity and Feed Me Links were each in the dozens of thousands of active and paying customers. Yet despite all this web work, my understanding of the web was always fuzzy and incomplete, built in bits and pieces, never honed against any curriculum or test or school, since none existed when i started learning.

As I grew up in skills, my title kept getting upgraded, from Engineer to Senior Engineer to Manager to Director and so on. After being an Engineering Director (and Creative Director) for a long enough while, with my days filled mostly with meetings and planning and translation between all the lays of the human stack, my front-end skills stopped getting the regular care and feeding they craved.

At the same time as I was doing managerial and leadership stuff around design and technology at our startup, the pace of the web, amazingly, accelerated dramatically. Within a few years, several new web standards appeared, and then exploded, or at least that’s how it felt. Seemingly overnight, suddenly, CSS Grid and Flexbox were actually here, as usable in real browsers. Single page apps (SPA), powered by Ember.js, and then Angular, and then React happened. Vue.js happened. Aided in part by the heroic work of the V8 team’s work making Javascript fast and portable, Node and the general Javascript renaissance, happened.

Suddenly, one day you wake up, and Microsoft, the web’s biggest cartoon villain, is cool again? Now everyone’s using VS Code (rebranded from Visual Studio Code). “GitHub, a Microsoft product”? What the actual huh?

Suddenly, in a fractally expanding world of new technology, my wizard-like web developer stylings weren’t so wizardly. I went from being a full-stack web developer dangerous in 3 web frameworks to someone who felt baffled looking at the source of any modern website.

I missed being the only one in the building who knows the exact curl command that will tee off 30% of live production API traffic to the dev build. I pined for the days when I could offhandedly diagnose issues with the cantankerous distributed content management system I’d built using an obscure functional language not meant for production use.

I missed the rush of feeling smart (alternated with feelings of total frustration and idiocy) interleaved with the opportunity to completely lose oneself in an abstract world free from the messy problems of real life. And really, whether or not my next job even requires being able to tear a website down the rocker-panels and rebuild it, why not regain the ability to do so?

So, yeah. Let’s do it.

I’m starting this project in June and I have a family trip to Michigan in two months, so that gives me a rare, firm window of time between the job I just left and whatever comes next. So this, then, is a daily log of my 2019 summer mission: to upgrade my desultory, slapdash front-end web development skills to a uniform, 2019, level, to the point that I can teach others and build whatever I want.

Here we go.