I’m back! Plus, my first few months as a developer

Well, this was a longer hiatus than I imagined!

The good news is that things have gone really well during my first few months at Shepherd Dog. I’m learning a ton about real-world development in a friendly environment. What’s not to love? I’ve got an app in Apple’s App Store (although it’s under the client’s name), and there are websites on the Internet that contain code I wrote myself.

One thing that was unexpected is that I started getting into mobile development earlier than I thought would be the case. I thought I’d spend more time doing WordPress stuff, but since about the first month, most of my work has been with iOS apps.

For all intents and purposes, I came to this job with zero mobile development experience. I’d done a few tutorials here and there and occasionally thought, “You know, I should learn more about mobile development,” but I hadn’t really done anything with it until now.

Because part of my brain is always running at a minimum of 90 miles per hour, I got to thinking, “What if the reason I haven’t pursued mobile development before now is that I just don’t have a knack for it? What if I’m terrible at this and disappoint everybody?” Man, I tense up just typing that right now.

Fortunately, that turned out not to be the case. Although there are still some things I have trouble wrapping my head around with iOS, I’ve at least got a basic idea of how to set up an app. It turns out that it’s true what they say about once you pick up one programming language, it becomes easier to pick up another one.

I even took the lead on putting together a different version of an existing app we’d made; i.e., the same basic logic but with different data and artwork. It’s actually not that difficult to set up that sort of thing in iOS. I might post a tutorial on it at some point.

My other fear with mobile development was that I wouldn’t enjoy it. This fear also turned out to be unfounded. I’m not going to claim there aren’t frustrating elements of the process, but that’s true of just about anything. It’s fun for me to see code┬áthat I’ve written doing something useful on a mobile device.

The only thing that’s kind of a bummer is that I’m less enthusiastic about WordPress than I was when I started the job. It is disturbingly easy to ratchet up the complexity of a WordPress site to a point where the site is difficult to manage. Performance often suffers in these situations, too. In fact, some more details about that might be the subject of my next post.

Bonus: in my last post I mentioned that it was a Slack channel question that motivated the folks at Shepherd Dog to contact me. If you look at the screenshot, you’ll notice that the question I posed was about Ruby, which I had recently started playing with. They were up front that Shepherd Dog isn’t exactly a Ruby shop, so I wouldn’t be doing much Ruby work there, if any. I figured that it was probably too soon for me to expect to get paid to write Ruby code anyway, so I was OK with it, at least for the time being.

In a plot twist, I have been able to use a bit of Ruby in my work there. We converted a client’s site from plain HTML to Jekyll, which is Ruby-based. I also wrote a web scraper in Ruby that helps populate some of the data for that site. The founders have even discussed the idea of more Ruby work in the future with potential clients. So you never know how things will turn out!

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