Author Topic: Need advice on what Treehouse course to take..  (Read 6545 times)

birthofsound

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Need advice on what Treehouse course to take..
« on: August 07, 2015, 09:24:53 PM »
Hey everyone. I am a 24 yr old exploring the possibility of moving into the tech field, but don't know what direction to go. The potential flexibility and freedom some of these jobs offer is certainly appealing. I understand this varies though.

I was looking through the course offerings from Treehouse, which seems like a good resource. But what course to take? I thought it may be a good idea to learn the new programming language Swift, to build IOS apps. The fact that its newer makes me think less people know how to use it and so I would be competing against less people for jobs...in comparison to learning PHP, Java, etc.

Is my reasoning flawed?
Have any of you tried Treehouse and went on to get a job in this field?
Thanks for any words of wisdom guys and girls.
-AJ

Tester

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Re: Need advice on what Treehouse course to take..
« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2015, 01:53:26 AM »
My opinion (I might be wrong):
It does not matter what language you learn.
What matters is if you can learn how to solve the problems.
Then, you "can" translate the solution in any language.

Now, of course you will need to learn a language, to be able to translate the solution quickly and efficiently (meaning to use the correct features offered by the language).
Also, being an "expert" in a language can help in some cases on getting quick and easy solutions to some problems.

I would say you could choose any language, as long as the course consists of solving (real/hard/interesting) problems using that language and explaining how to solve types of problems and what are the benefits and drawbacks of the language.

birthofsound

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Re: Need advice on what Treehouse course to take..
« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2015, 07:40:36 AM »
Thank you for your feedback Tester!
I think you make some solid points.
I'm curious though what specific language to focus on and what has the highest demand.
I don't have the time to dedicate to learning them all obviously, so I'm trying to go about this in a strategic and efficient manner.

Right now I work in the environmental field and while fulfilling on a spiritual level, it's not particularly rewarding for my wallet. lol
Thought I could eventually pick up some part-time work once I learn to code to supplement my income...at least to start.

chiconix

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Re: Need advice on what Treehouse course to take..
« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2015, 03:42:44 PM »
I've been in the software / web dev field for three years. I'm currently freelancing.
That said:
If you want to find a full-time job doing web development, I'd take the Ruby and JS courses.
This isn't because those languages are better than others, and like Tester says you can solve problems and get paid for doing so in pretty much any language.
However it seems that the jobs with the lowest barrier to entry are junior front-end positions, which requires knowing HTML, CSS, and JS. Ruby would just be a nice complement to help you understand the server side of things.
Once you're in the door somewhere, you'll have a much better feel for the direction you want to go within the industry, and on-the-job experience will make you a better programmer faster than the online courses (usually anyways).

However if you want to find some side income, I'd suggest boring old WordPress (PHP). Most of my experience is in PHP, and to be frank it's a pretty blah language. However, it's incredibly common, so there's plenty of work in it. WordPress is written in PHP, and WordPress solves what is probably the most accessible business problem of all these days -- the need for a business to have a web presence without paying for an on-staff web developer. WP development is something of a commodity, though, so this route makes more sense if you want to try to make some side cash knocking out WP sites for the local business community.
YMMV and I'm sure there are folks on this board with differing opinions. Let us know what you choose!

birthofsound

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Re: Need advice on what Treehouse course to take..
« Reply #4 on: August 08, 2015, 04:32:48 PM »
Thanks Chiconix! Very insightful.
I'm curious how you got into the field. Have you worked at one company in the past, or always freelancing? Is it challenging to find steady work?
I've looked into Wordpress in the past, but it seems like a really flooded market since as I understand it one can just go off an existing template/theme and then tweak with PHP if desired. I've looked at Wordpress jobs on freelancer.com, but the bidding sites are all a race-to-the-bottom sorta deal it appears. Therefore, I'm less inclined to go that route. I would like to be able to really do this full time if I choose, rather than some side money.

So if take Ruby and JS you are suggesting I would need to learn HTML and CSS too? Yikes lol.

larmando

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Re: Need advice on what Treehouse course to take..
« Reply #5 on: August 09, 2015, 06:01:07 AM »
How about a free mooc instead of treehouse? It seems it could save money to achieve the same. Their "bonus" content you're likely to find on YouTube, Ted, or any computer conference site, and their basic should be possible to find for free.

birthofsound

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Re: Need advice on what Treehouse course to take..
« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2015, 07:09:26 AM »
That looks like a cool option larmando. I was looking at Treehouse because I saw a interview MMM did with the creator. Maybe it's not significantly better than what I could find for free though. I'm unsure.

chiconix

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Re: Need advice on what Treehouse course to take..
« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2015, 03:42:57 PM »
I have worked for two companies in the past, and just switched to full-time freelancing in the last couple of months. I just moved to Denver from Virginia and freelancing is a great way to maintain some income during transitions like that. I haven't decided how long I'll keep doing it. So I'm not the uber-freelancer, this is just my brief experience.

Anyways:
WordPress is definitely a flooded market. However you can rise above the $5/hr hordes on freelancer.com. FWIW I charge between $50 and $100 an hour and have gotten positive feedback from clients so far.

Basically it's a mix of two things:
1. showing to clients that you are reliable and won't disappear / stop answering emails / whatever halfway through the project. Disappearing seems to be pretty common among the very low end of remote freelancers.
2. filtering out clients who want you to clone Youtube for $500. There are a lot of time wasters, especially on CL gigs, who have "the next facebook" idea and want you to build it for equity or "exposure". Stick to people who have income and want to increase it with your services.

As far as rate, I'd suggest reading Brennan Dunn's articles on "Double Your Freelancing Rate" (it's intended to sell you his book / course, but the info is all there if you take the time). One of the things he'll harp on is avoiding being a commodity -- you're not a "WordPress developer", you're a "business consultant" and sometimes you use WordPress or Rails or whatever to solve business problems. Lots of stuff like that.

There's also a whole world of customization beyond just tweaking themes. Your ideal client isn't someone who can or wants to DIY with a $45 theme. WP has the capability to be modified into a full-blown CMS. For example, I recently did a site for a pet food company. In addition to a custom design, I also implemented a bunch of custom interfaces for the back end -- like building dropdowns for text colors that were autofilled with their accepted brand colors, etc. That's the kind of stuff you can charge more for, especially if you frame it in terms of "this is to make it easier to enter products and save you the cost of your non-technical employees making mistakes", or something like that.

All that said Ruby is way more pleasant to work with! It's just that there's so much WP work out there, it's a good place to start.

As far as the cost: Treehouse free trial. Then put your account on "pause" while you try other options, and decide if it's worth paying for.

Whichever route you choose, you'll benefit by learning HTML and CSS. Compared to JS, Ruby, or PHP, they're not that difficult in terms of getting to basic proficiency. Knock down a couple courses on those first, would be my suggestion.

HTH, sorry if it's kind of scattered. Let me know if you have more questions, happy to answer.

birthofsound

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Re: Need advice on what Treehouse course to take..
« Reply #8 on: August 09, 2015, 07:14:53 PM »
Good grief, super helpful response there chiconix.
What languages did you know when you obtained your first coding job w/ the company?
What level of experience were you at then?
Was it a remote gig?
Do you do Wordpress work exclusively, or have you branched out into areas?

The flooded market thing scares me to be honest, because all I see are requests to make a website for stupid low amounts of money. Maybe I've just not looked in the right places.
However, I get what you mean about being responsive to client needs and having great communication skills.
"clone Youtube for $500" Yep seen these requests, what the hell? lol

I'll check out these Brennan Dunn articles. I like that example you give, very smart.

Part of what I find appealing about Treehouse is that it seems to be semi comprehensive on each topic?
I am aiming to learn in the most efficient way possible and tend to feel overwhelmed if I'm trying to piece together random bits I learn from lots of different websites...given potential overlap,  etc.


vagon

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Re: Need advice on what Treehouse course to take..
« Reply #9 on: August 09, 2015, 07:31:43 PM »
How about a free mooc instead of treehouse? It seems it could save money to achieve the same. Their "bonus" content you're likely to find on YouTube, Ted, or any computer conference site, and their basic should be possible to find for free.

+1

Try out code academy (completely free) and the free parts of codeschool for on-demand courses.
Learn git to upload your projects into your own personal portfolio on github or equivalent
Do free MOOCs (e.g. Harvard's cs50x.)
Once past the basics try some algorithms in your language using codebyte

If you get to that stage you will probably want to go entry level somewhere to get real world experience.

That looks like a cool option larmando. I was looking at Treehouse because I saw a interview MMM did with the creator. Maybe it's not significantly better than what I could find for free though. I'm unsure.

My view is it isn't. MMM gets paid for referrals, which is neither here nor there, but explains why he mentions treehouse specifically instead of the other options.

birthofsound

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Re: Need advice on what Treehouse course to take..
« Reply #10 on: August 09, 2015, 08:44:36 PM »
Have you tried it out Vagon? I didn't know MMM gets paid for the reference...thanks for enlightening me. I will keep that in mind!
« Last Edit: August 09, 2015, 08:48:14 PM by birthofsound »

vagon

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Re: Need advice on what Treehouse course to take..
« Reply #11 on: August 09, 2015, 10:07:33 PM »
Yep I've tried out Treehouse and, dont get me wrong, its fine- I just wouldn't pay for something I could get for free elsewhere.
They have free trials so go nuts with one of those if you like, but it involves remembering to cancel a membership so be warned!

In terms of recommendations for languages I would aim for Javascript, but if you dont know HTML/CSS start there first.
If you are good at learning from text books borrow the Javascript O'Reilly Rhino book from the library (http://shop.oreilly.com/product/9780596805531.do). If you find you learn well from it then you can buy it for a one-off payment (instead of the treehouse/pluralsight etc subscription model) and refer back as needed.

birthofsound

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Re: Need advice on what Treehouse course to take..
« Reply #12 on: August 10, 2015, 06:19:04 PM »
I signed up for that Harvard course Vagon. Thanks for the tip, looks like it gives a nice overview of a few languages.
Do you program professionally as well?

vagon

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Re: Need advice on what Treehouse course to take..
« Reply #13 on: August 10, 2015, 06:54:42 PM »
Yep that's why its a good course, you should get a feel for what type of programming you like and then you can focus on that more.
Mostly management these days, but I still like to keep across things!

chiconix

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Re: Need advice on what Treehouse course to take..
« Reply #14 on: August 10, 2015, 07:22:09 PM »
Hi birthofsound, glad it's helpful.
I agree with vagon's recommendations to try different MOOCs as well as JavaScript. I also like codewars, although I could have lived without the ninja branding.
Your questions:
When I got my first programming job I had taken most of an Associate's degree in CS, so I'd take data structure & algorithm classes in C++ and Java, as well as some web scripting classes in PHP & JS (semester each), plus an intro to HTML & CSS. I believe that I got the job because a) I am good at talking to people due to too many years working retail, b) I had done a simple PHP/MySQL final project for a PHP class, and c) I only knew how to use a text editor to "hand-code", rather than something like Dreamweaver that generates code for you. My boss figured I didn't have any bad habits to unlearn.
Before that job I was a bicycle mechanic. So no experience programming. It was not a remote job.
I will work in whatever language the client wants/is already using, but so far that's been HTML/CSS/JS/PHP. WP is an easy sell because clients have heard of it, or maybe their current site already uses it. Actually my next step is to spend some time doing a portfolio piece in another language -- I'm thinking Node, seems like a decent way forward.

If you want to get clients: make something you can point to. Look around at your current employer. Find things that are repetitive and error-prone. Can you automate it? Better yet, can you automate it and write a case study about how much time & money it saved the company?

Feel free to PM me if you want to talk on the phone. Though in general I'd prefer to keep a record here where it's accessible to others.

vagon

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Re: Need advice on what Treehouse course to take..
« Reply #15 on: August 10, 2015, 07:33:15 PM »
I'd take data structure & algorithm classes in C++ and Java

+1 but I'd start with the basics first, think of this as being the intermediate level after you do the free intro courses.

automate it and write a case study about how much time & money it saved the company

+1000
This is a super easy way to set yourself apart from other coders. If you can show to business people you "get it" you will be way ahead of your peers.

chiconix

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Re: Need advice on what Treehouse course to take..
« Reply #16 on: August 11, 2015, 10:14:33 AM »
I'd take data structure & algorithm classes in C++ and Java

+1 but I'd start with the basics first, think of this as being the intermediate level after you do the free intro courses.



Yeah sorry -- typo there. I meant "I had taken" those classes, not "I would take".
TBH the DS&A classes were the most challenging ones but I never used them at work -- I pretty much took the shortest path to full-time employment in the industry, and I think I'm going to have to return to the books if I want to move up career-wise.

AZDude

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Re: Need advice on what Treehouse course to take..
« Reply #17 on: August 11, 2015, 11:07:03 AM »
I've been doing software development for almost ten years. Lots of good advice, but the simple thing is to go on Dice.com, search for the job you want, and go from there. You will probably have to do something for free at first on the side to build up experience and a portfolio before you get real clients or a real job.

There are dozens of different programming languages and technology stacks. Play around until you find one you like and then concentrate on that until you land a job. Much easier to land a job if you have 3 years experience in X than if you have 3 months in Y, 5 months in B, etc...

birthofsound

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Re: Need advice on what Treehouse course to take..
« Reply #18 on: August 12, 2015, 10:57:08 AM »
Thanks for chiming in AZDude!
I'll be checking out that website you mentioned. Sounds like a good way to see what's in high demand.
When you say "software development" does that subfield use the same languages as what's used for making websites, etc.?
Can any language be used on a project, only some are better than others at specific areas?
Also, why don't all programmers use Dreamweaver to generate code?
Chiconix mentioned Dreamweaver and I'm kinda confused as to why you wouldn't use it if it's a more efficient method?

Do you build mobile apps?
Could you tell me what you're path has been as far as the order of languages you learned as you progressed?
Anything that you would recommend I focus on?

katesilvergirl

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Re: Need advice on what Treehouse course to take..
« Reply #19 on: August 12, 2015, 11:31:39 AM »
I know literally nothing about programming languages. However, I do know that many public libraries have deals with Treehouse to offer free access to library card holders. I would definitely check your library to see what kind of access they offer (also free music sites, and language learning sites like Mango).

chiconix

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Re: Need advice on what Treehouse course to take..
« Reply #20 on: August 12, 2015, 11:47:22 AM »
I'll let AZDude answer your questions on his own if he likes but just in reference to Dreamweaver: it generates HTML based on a graphic layout editor. It doesn't handle logic, just markup (HTML), so technically what's done in DW isn't programming. I'm sure there are similar applications that allow you to write code without knowing a programming language -- I think you'd find them in academia. However I've usually read that code written this way is usually very poorly organized (b/c the code generator doesn't know that the problem you're solving today might actually have been solved by yesterday's code, with a little tweaking, etc.). So until those code generators get better, we all still have jobs.

I worked in a place once where some people were writing code normally, and others were DW'ing the same code, and without going into details, it broke everything all the time everywhere. I suppose I am asking you to take my word for it, but I would recommend pretty strongly that you avoid learning DW in favor of "hand-coding".

AZDude

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Re: Need advice on what Treehouse course to take..
« Reply #21 on: August 12, 2015, 11:49:40 AM »
Thanks for chiming in AZDude!
I'll be checking out that website you mentioned. Sounds like a good way to see what's in high demand.
When you say "software development" does that subfield use the same languages as what's used for making websites, etc.?
Can any language be used on a project, only some are better than others at specific areas?
Also, why don't all programmers use Dreamweaver to generate code?
Chiconix mentioned Dreamweaver and I'm kinda confused as to why you wouldn't use it if it's a more efficient method?

Do you build mobile apps?
Could you tell me what you're path has been as far as the order of languages you learned as you progressed?
Anything that you would recommend I focus on?

Lots of questions, but I'll do my best.

Q : When you say "software development" does that subfield use the same languages as what's used for making websites, etc.?

A: Yeah, software development is a general term. I have done everything from making public facing sites to doing data mining in huge datawarehouses, and plenty in between.

Q: Can any language be used on a project, only some are better than others at specific areas?

A: I suppose any language could be used to do something, but there are definitely certain ones that used more often for a specific task. I have spent most of my career using the Microsoft stack(.net, SQL Server, IIS), but that is just because it is what I fell into when I got started.

Q: Also, why don't all programmers use Dreamweaver to generate code?

A: I have never used Dreamweaver, but I imagine that its only used to generate the public facing user interface. It cannot make more complicated systems or something that is more custom to a specific system.

Q: Do you build mobile apps?

A: I have played with building mobile apps, but given that Im in the Microsoft career path, and they tend to lag behind in Mobile technology, I have not done much.

Q: Could you tell me what you're path has been as far as the order of languages you learned as you progressed?

A: I started in college learning a variety of stuff(Visual Basic, COBOL, CICS, classic ASP, and SQL). I got my first programming job doing C#.net and ASP.net, making all those college classes mostly useless. From there I have learned VB.net, Javascript/Java, T-SQL, PL-SQL, and a few others.

Q: Anything that you would recommend I focus on?

A: Depends on what you want to do. That is why I suggested you find the job you want first and then look to see what it requires. If you want a corporate 9-5 gig, then C#.net, ASP.net, and Java are the way to go. If you want some cool low level engineering stuff or game coding, then its C++. If you want to be unemployed, I would suggest Visual Basic. If you want to make websites for clients, then go with the LAMP stack. PHP, Javascript, MySQL/NOSQL, etc... If you want to build mobile apps, then its C and whatever else Apple requires for certification.






birthofsound

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Re: Need advice on what Treehouse course to take..
« Reply #22 on: August 12, 2015, 01:21:32 PM »
I know literally nothing about programming languages. However, I do know that many public libraries have deals with Treehouse to offer free access to library card holders. I would definitely check your library to see what kind of access they offer (also free music sites, and language learning sites like Mango).
No Treehouse access, but my library does give us access to Lynda.com. It has a lot of programming courses, even Swift!  Many thanks.

birthofsound

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Re: Need advice on what Treehouse course to take..
« Reply #23 on: August 12, 2015, 02:32:16 PM »
Thanks for chiming in AZDude!
I'll be checking out that website you mentioned. Sounds like a good way to see what's in high demand.
When you say "software development" does that subfield use the same languages as what's used for making websites, etc.?
Can any language be used on a project, only some are better than others at specific areas?
Also, why don't all programmers use Dreamweaver to generate code?
Chiconix mentioned Dreamweaver and I'm kinda confused as to why you wouldn't use it if it's a more efficient method?

Do you build mobile apps?
Could you tell me what you're path has been as far as the order of languages you learned as you progressed?
Anything that you would recommend I focus on?

Lots of questions, but I'll do my best.

Q : When you say "software development" does that subfield use the same languages as what's used for making websites, etc.?

A: Yeah, software development is a general term. I have done everything from making public facing sites to doing data mining in huge datawarehouses, and plenty in between.

Q: Can any language be used on a project, only some are better than others at specific areas?

A: I suppose any language could be used to do something, but there are definitely certain ones that used more often for a specific task. I have spent most of my career using the Microsoft stack(.net, SQL Server, IIS), but that is just because it is what I fell into when I got started.

Q: Also, why don't all programmers use Dreamweaver to generate code?

A: I have never used Dreamweaver, but I imagine that its only used to generate the public facing user interface. It cannot make more complicated systems or something that is more custom to a specific system.

Q: Do you build mobile apps?

A: I have played with building mobile apps, but given that Im in the Microsoft career path, and they tend to lag behind in Mobile technology, I have not done much.

Q: Could you tell me what you're path has been as far as the order of languages you learned as you progressed?

A: I started in college learning a variety of stuff(Visual Basic, COBOL, CICS, classic ASP, and SQL). I got my first programming job doing C#.net and ASP.net, making all those college classes mostly useless. From there I have learned VB.net, Javascript/Java, T-SQL, PL-SQL, and a few others.

Q: Anything that you would recommend I focus on?

A: Depends on what you want to do. That is why I suggested you find the job you want first and then look to see what it requires. If you want a corporate 9-5 gig, then C#.net, ASP.net, and Java are the way to go. If you want some cool low level engineering stuff or game coding, then its C++. If you want to be unemployed, I would suggest Visual Basic. If you want to make websites for clients, then go with the LAMP stack. PHP, Javascript, MySQL/NOSQL, etc... If you want to build mobile apps, then its C and whatever else Apple requires for certification.

Thanks for clearing up my confusion about Dreamweaver. Will be avoiding that.
One thing that I came across as I was perusing Dice.com is the use of the term "full-stack developer". It seems to indicate when one is a jack of all trades, instead of just a "back end developer" or "front end".   

I think it would be wise for me to avoid going this route, as it looks to be too broad a task and would be overwhelming. Is it harder to get work if you only do back-end work or vice versa?
I was reading an article that claimed that Ruby on Rails is a good language to learn, since it's a "cleaner" code than PHP for instance. Would it be a decent idea to learn this language first?  As I understand it, Rails is like an add-on for Ruby and broadens its capabilities I guess?

Let me know if I'm making sense lol. Thanks!



AZDude

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Re: Need advice on what Treehouse course to take..
« Reply #24 on: August 12, 2015, 03:50:23 PM »
I have seen a few Ruby on Rails jobs. Never used it, so dont know much about it other than there is at least some market for the skill. Full stack developer means basically what you said, someone who can code something from start to finish, both UI, middle, back, database, etc...

birthofsound

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Re: Need advice on what Treehouse course to take..
« Reply #25 on: August 12, 2015, 06:15:10 PM »
I have seen a few Ruby on Rails jobs. Never used it, so dont know much about it other than there is at least some market for the skill. Full stack developer means basically what you said, someone who can code something from start to finish, both UI, middle, back, database, etc...
So I read more about it and learned that it real popular w/ startups mainly.
Javascript seems to be the most in demand so maybe I should learn that first...

vagon

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Re: Need advice on what Treehouse course to take..
« Reply #26 on: August 12, 2015, 07:20:04 PM »
One thing that I came across as I was perusing Dice.com is the use of the term "full-stack developer". It seems to indicate when one is a jack of all trades, instead of just a "back end developer" or "front end".   

and...

Javascript seems to be the most in demand so maybe I should learn that first...

Once you learn Javascript it can actually turn into fulll-stack, using node.js for the server side. Its probably beyond your need to comprehend but something called the MEAN stack has some momentum behind it.

But at this stage I wouldnt stress too much, check out CS50x and decide from there where your next focus is. Maybe report back with your feelings here as you're doing the course. That way:
  • You can have a record of how much you liked the various parts
  • You can get help if you get stuck
  • We can see the areas you like and suggest next steps
  • You are publicly accountable and motivated to finish
« Last Edit: August 12, 2015, 07:21:54 PM by vagon »

birthofsound

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Re: Need advice on what Treehouse course to take..
« Reply #27 on: August 13, 2015, 11:14:37 AM »
Vagon that is a good plan you laid out.
It appears that the course doesn't start till the fall.
Therefore, I am going to look for some other intro courses to explore in the meantime.