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I'm A Developer!

I'm A Developer!

It's official you guys, I'm a developer! Three of the most challenging and rewarding months of my professional career culminated in a final project, so here it is...

connecting neighbors to neighbors through food

Check it out on Heroku (login as josie@mail.com, password to get the farmer's experience), poke through the source code, or watch this video of my presentation.

The idea: A few months ago, a farmer friend mentioned that crop surpluses often go to waste. In doing further research, I discovered that every year over 6 billion pounds of fresh produce in the U.S. goes unsold or unharvested. We have more food in our landfills than paper or plastic, and organic waste in landfills produces methane, which is more harmful for the environment than carbon dioxide. To help alleviate this food waste crisis, I built CropSwap, a marketplace product that enables growers to swap their excess crops for other crops; for time - such as a shift at a farmer's market; or for labor on their land or farm. 

In my three weeks living and breathing CropSwap, here are my major takeaways: 

  1. Roll With It: About one week (and one third) into the project, my partner had to drop out of the program. He was the frontend developer on the project, and I was already deep into creating an API backend for his Angular frontend. With this sudden wrench in the road, I put on my project manager hat, pivoted to creating a Rails app and dove into learning frontend. This proved to be a great experience - I learned a huge amount about grid systems, CSS tricks, and Javascript animation libraries. It felt good to have enough experience at this point to maintain perspective, take on the new challenge, and keep on moving. 
  2. Avoid Repetition Everywhere: When there are time constraints on a project (and I prefer when time matters), it is tempting to ignore best practices and just get something working. But I learned through this project that taking the time to have clean code really does save time overall. For example, I spent too much time trying to track down div close tags in order to fix bugs in my views. Just as repetition in logic should be pulled into methods, repetition in views should be pulled into partials. 
  3. Tests Help Me Think: Writing tests for CropSwap was critical in helping me think through the logic of my code. What do I want this object to do? What are the edge cases that I need to cover in my tests? Without a thorough test, I found myself getting stuck without a good starting point. Yet another reason to follow the best practices of Test Driven Development. 
  4. Help Mentors Help You: Mentors are usually busy people - that's how they got to where they are. So without structure, it is easy to miss out on the wealth of knowledge your mentor is willing to share. What I found helpful: setting specific time aside, coming prepared with detailed reproductions of my issues, and being ready to take initial direction and continue on my own. By managing up with your mentors, you can get so much more out of the experience.

There are still many features I want to add to CropSwap - for example, a map view that allows users to see crops near them. If you have any ideas on how to make CropSwap better, I'd love to hear them.

I've gained so much knowledge and confidence through my experience at The Iron Yard. And drumroll please... in January, I am joining the Durham-based agency Smashing Boxes as a backend developer! Smashing Boxes is super community-oriented, frequently hosts local meetups, and is deeply supportive of The Iron Yard and the influx of junior developers into the Triangle. I've also joined the Leadership Team of Girl Develop It RDU and I can't wait to help more ladies achieve success in tech. 

But first... 3 weeks traveling through Chile with my husband, better known as Ilan The Data Man

 

 

 

Time for SmashingBoxes

Time for SmashingBoxes

Open Source and A Warm Fuzzy Feeling

Open Source and A Warm Fuzzy Feeling