Just started a “challenge”, or better, a learning experience. The target: become proficient in programming by the end of the year. I’m tackling the following programming languages: Java, Ruby and the “uber-popular web languages” PHP and JavaScript.

Some background

I’m currently studying for an MSc in Computer Science; so far there’s a focus on Java. I’ve been dabbling in WordPress and PHP for the past year or so. While I did learn a lot on my own, the “institutional” Java training within the MSc did give me a much more solid understanding of programming. So now, when editing PHP stuff (mostly WordPress), I understand what’s happening. And ain’t that lovely :)

In January I took a crash-course in Ruby using online resources and enrolled in an SaaS module using Ruby. This SaaS module is one of Stanford’s free online classes and starts this Februrary. I’m very excited about it: it’s about applying Ruby in practice, which is a powerful language.

The “plan”

The plan is simple:

  • Read a good number of practical books on programming. Work through the examples to get a good feel.
  • Continuously practice coding to expand and apply stuff learnt. Learn best practices and stick to them right from the start. (Including: naming and spacing conventions, full code commenting, secure code, prepared for internationalisation where applicable.)
  • Look for software projects which I can contribute to.

First step forward

I’m brushing up my PHP knowledge, within the WordPress universe. To start off, I set myself a couple of targets for this week and “failed” both. In a good way though. Let me explain.

The targets were: (1) read through the whole of “Professional WordPress Plugin Development” and (2) build my own plugin.

Fail #1: Read Book

While I did not read the whole book (I went through almost 6 chapters out of 18), there’s good reason. Rather than speed-reading through 400 pages, I want to actually learn this stuff. (Obvious, I know.) I took my time to delve into the examples, type in almost every example myself, make some errors and find them. So it took hours to get through some of the chapters. But I learnt some very useful stuff.

Fail #2: Write Plugin

To start off, I want to write a simple plugin, which generates “privacy policy” and “terms of service” type of pages. I also want to group various options in tabs, rather than menus.
What I did was read through a lot of online tutorials (in addition to the book) and follow the guidelines to write a few simple plugins. So while I did not write my own plugins from scratch, I did learn the ropes of basic plugin development.

Now the second semester of my MSc starts and I’ll be kept busy, but I want to keep expanding on WordPress in parallel with Java.


One thought on “the_start

  1. Pingback: I’m posting updates about my programming journey here | W r i t e W o r d e

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