Always Learning

I’ve been a web developer/programmer “professionally” since 2004. I say professionally in quotes because that’s when I started getting paid to develop things. 🙂

I have no formal training in anything web related. I actually have a degree in meteorology. That’s where I got my first taste of building things for the web. In my “Computer Concepts in Meteorology” class, we had to turn in all of our papers as web pages. I wish I still had copies of those papers. I’m sure they were beauties. Tiled marble backgrounds. Comic Sans. Beauties I tell ya. 😉

My first job out of college was as a meteorologist at a weather modification company. While there, I ended up taking over maintenance of the company’s website. I redesigned the site a couple times in the 4 or so years that I was there. During that time, I also because the “WebMistress” of the website for a local band that I was friends with. I can’t believe I actually called myself that.

I taught myself php and MySQL by following tutorials online and actually writing code. That’s how I learn best … by actually doing.

At the end of 2003, I found myself out of work (the company had eliminated my position … or at least that’s what they told me). Since I hadn’t done much actual meteorological related work while I was there (I mostly put together reports from the field data), I decided to pursue web development as an actual paying job.

In the summer of 2004, I found a company that was willing to take a chance on me. I was with that company until it closed its doors at the end of 2007 and went to work directly for their last client in 2008. During that time, I continued to work with php but worked with MSSQL rather than MySQL. I learned a lot during that time, and I really miss the company and the people I worked with. I honestly wish I was still there.

Over the past 6 years or so, I’ve done a lot of work with WordPress. I’ve developed custom WordPress plugins, both simple and complex. I’ve also developed custom WordPress themes based on the designs put together by our creative department.

One of the things that I’m most proud of is the content management system (or CMS) that I built using the CodeIgniter framework. I got tired of taking my last project, striping out the client related stuff, and using it to start a new project. So I created a base package that could be used to start any project. One of my co-workers jokingly called it BeckyPress. 🙂

Recently, I started learning Laravel (another php framework). I had heard a lot of good things about it. And CodeIgniter support wasn’t what it used to be. I liked what I found, so I decided to rebuild my CMS using it (thankfully my boss agreed that it was a good thing to do). I’ve already got the base system completed, and I’ve developed 3 add-on modules that can be easily installed if needed.

Every time I stumble into some sort of roadblock, I am amazed at how easily it can be solved (after doing some research … or a lot of research in some cases). I have definitely fallen in love with the Laravel framework.

Laravel has also helped me learn Composer, Bower, Gulp, Elixir and other cool command line tools in addition to the more advanced php functionality. I’m also still working on my front end development skills. I want to make websites that are functionally awesome AND pretty. 😀

I guess the point of this rambling post is that no matter how long you’ve been doing something, there are always new things to learn. That’s a good thing. I think if I wasn’t continually learning new things, I’d get bored.

The next thing that I want to try doing is helping other people with their issues. I’ve spent so much time on StackOverflow looking for help with my issues. I think I have enough knowledge (in some areas) that I can help other people with theirs. I just have to make the time to look through the open questions for ones that I can help with.

I think it’s about time that I started giving back.