in Learning, Reflection

Learning and Project Update: April 8, 2018

What’s New This Week

I had quite a busy 1.5 weeks! Much of my at-home time this week was devoted to problem solving a solution for our gravid turtle — we needed to create a nesting area for her in her 65 gallon tank. Through much problem solving and hands-on application of design thinking principles, we landed on a solution! There sure were several opportunities for us to test and iterate, all while attempting to meet the needs of our user — our very large red eared slider named Turd. While this was a frustrating and difficult experience, we found ourselves in the middle of (an albeit pretty extreme) design challenge!

Main Focus: Lots of InDesign

I created several PDFs for a Digital Harbor Foundation project this week, and after trying a few different web export tools I ended up using Adobe InDesign. While I was able to jump in fairly quickly due to some experience with other Adobe tools, namely Adobe XD, I worked through a few online courses to build my skills. I ended up quite happy with the PDF layouts and found that I enjoy designing PDFs! I’m looking forward to refining and building my InDesign and InCopy skills so that I can create more project resources and guides for DHF. I tend to learn fastest when I’m on a time crunch and have a project that directly integrates the skills I’m learning.

I haven’t done as much active web work this week, but I’ve been doing lots of research. I’m going to keep this section fairly short since I’m rather tired right now, but I will say that I have a few projects coming up that I’m excited about. Anyway, here’s a quick tour of what I’ve been exploring.

Other Things: Vue and Laravel

Last weekend I took some time to dig a bit into VueJS and Laravel. As I’ve been learning React I’ve also been occasionally thinking about how I’d accomplish similar tasks in Vue, and this has been extremely helpful. I’m starting to understand the pros and cons of both, and understanding both methodologies helps round out my general JavaScript knowledge. I’m very interested in decoupled CMSes. I’ve seen an increase in agencies and designers using both React and Vue in this context.

My interest in Laravel has come primarily from wanting a deeper understanding of the Blade PHP templating that is present in the Sage WordPress theme. I’ve been building my general familiarity with Sage but I recognized that my PHP skills weren’t quite where they needed to be. However, I’m very comfortable with templating languages in general, so I was able to understand the basics of Blade. I’ve seen lots of projects using both Vue and Laravel, so I may work through something on the side to boost my skills and take my WordPress skillset to the next level. I love when there’s lots of things that I’m excited about learning — now I just need to narrow down and focus! My goal is to have 1 or 2 key projects that I can use to develop these pursuits.

On the Horizon: Gatsby

I’ve unfortunately had to put my GatsbyJS exploration on the back burner over the last few weeks. I’ve been intending to migrate my personal site to Gatsby while retaining WordPress as my backend. Even though I haven’t been able to dedicate time to work on this, I’ve done some additional research into the following topics:

Gatsby uses GraphQL, so I wanted to learn more about it. I still have yet to get my hands on it, but I did listen to a great episode of Syntax about it. I understand the idea behind it, but I know that I won’t grasp it until I actually use it. To that end, I’ve come across WP-GraphQL. I have a few project ideas for this and I’m excited to look into it!

I also did a bit more exploration into the WP API. The WP API is so well developed and powerful. At this point, I check whether all major plugins that we use at DHF support the WP API. I have lots of potential uses for it but I want to explore it for my personal site first. This is another huge motivating factor for me to get into Gatsby: it’s a great way for me to level up my skills in 3 areas I’m interested in — React, GraphQL, and the WP API. Now I just need to focus my time on these pursuits!

Homebrew Website Club

This Tuesday Homebrew Website Club Baltimore is meeting at DHF! I always look forward to our meetups and I’ll be writing a post meetup reflection later this week. As always, beginners are welcome. Hope to see you!

Let me know what you think


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