Anthony J. Campbell

Lambda School - Week 11: Front To Back

Anthony J. Campbell
Lambda School - Week 11: Front To Back
Why do Java developers wear glasses?
Because they can’t C.
— Some guy who thought he was funny

Ahh yes. So long React and Redux! Goodbye, worrying about missing a semicolon and forgetting to use camelcase! Hello, sweet sweet backend. Now, I can finally start to worry about semicolons and using camelcase!

Wait - what?

I thought this sh*t was going to get easier?!


“I don't really like socializing, I'm more of a back-end type of guy.”

This week was our introduction to back-end engineering. Finally. We'd gotten hints here and there. A quick peek at a database here and there was enough to get me excited. I was stoked.

Going in, I was aware of the basics of CRUD operations - Create, Read, Update, and Delete for those not in the know. I knew a bit about Node and how it acts as the layer between the front-end and the backend. That was pretty much it. From thereon out, it was all new.

We started off strong. We dove right into using Express; a Node.js framework used to build web applications and APIs. Just for fun, our instructor decided to throw debugging into the mix as well! That was a lot to take in. Unfortunately, my code editor's debugger seemed to be broken. No one could figure out why, but I was forced to test my code with copious amounts of console.log()s. We still haven't managed to get it sorted out. We've tried damn-near everything short of doing a factory reset of my entire MacBook. Let's hope it works when we get around to doing testing full-time in a couple of weeks.

As a whole, the curriculum is moving towards having us integrate more and more technologies on a daily basis. In the past, we've been handed projects where half the files are already in place. Now, we start with a text-file stating what the final deliverables have to be. That's it. No code-alongs, no freebies.

It's liberating. It makes you feel confident about being able to pull off small projects on your own. We've built so many servers from scratch and implement CRUD operations so often that we could do it with our eyes closed. As I've said, long ago, it's all about reps. Whether it's getting to a 300-pound benchpress or learning a new framework; it's all about the hours you put in.

When it finally clicks…

When it finally clicks…

It does get exhausting at times. As a whole, Lambda accounts for 60+ hours a week. Easily. And we're not talking about those hours of ‘work’ you spend mindlessly replying to email and browsing 9GAG (by the way, is that still a thing?). We're talking about being fully engaged, trying your hardest to make sense of it all. That type of work.

Between Lambda and working some 20 hours a week, I occasionally struggle to maintain a semblance of a social life. Let's just say the lady-friend doesn't enjoy my time at Lambda School quite as much. It's often a matter of choosing between going to the gym or spending some extra hours understanding a concept a little more clearly. That, and the fact that I have to hit the gym at ungodly hours just to avoid the mass of people. Try going to the gym at 5 PM and you'll spend a good hour waiting for a machine to free up. It's a sh*tshow.

Like I've said before, attending Lambda is a sprint. For nine months, you decide to focus primarily on learning and nothing else. I can safely say that it's been the hardest thing I've done in my life.

Every day, you get battered. And every day you weather the storm. And maybe even start to enjoy it. I sure have.


Tools Of The Trade

This week was an intro to the back-end. As such, we spent an inordinate amount of time covering theory. Some of the more concrete technologies and topics we discussed are:

  • Node.js and its pros and cons;

  • Using Express to build RESTful web services

  • Building and using (Express) Middlewares;

  • Server-side Routing and its pros and cons;

  • How to create APIs from scratch and maintain them;

  • Diving into Postman for HTTP requests;

  • Deployment using Heroku and configuring deployment scripts.

For the first time in quite a while, I didn't actually spend all that much time doing extracurricular work. I reviewed some of this week's materials and watched a couple of lectures for next week, but that's about it.


Time For Questions

Does Lambda’s curriculum get updated regularly?

Lambda Schools curriculum is ever-changing. So much so that they've stopped coming up with version numbers (i.e. v. 1.33.7). Lambda School tries to embody the ‘Ship early, Ship often’ mentality of Silicon Valley. Every so often, we'll open up our online learning environment and notice that new sections have been added or that lessons have been renamed or redesigned.

It seems that Lambda has been relatively on top of this from the very beginning. When Lambda School was just starting out, the focus was more on Computer Science and deeply technical skills. On week two, they'd already covered Redux and React. The pace was intense. Perhaps a bit too much.


State of the lambda union

It felt good for class to be back in session. Everyone seemed eager to get started with the back-end. That's what I like most about our cohort. Quite a few people are intensely curious about the technologies we use and their uses. It's a rare thing to find. From what I've heard, this isn't uniform across Lambda. As a whole, our cohort seems to be outperforming most - if not all - of the US-based cohorts.

Next week, we'll be covering SQL. I'm both excited and a tad intimidated. A friend of mine has gotten his ass kicked repeatedly by SQL, so he's warned me repeatedly. Whatever the case, next week will prove to be interesting.

Till then!