Web Development

How did we get here?

It all started in 1999. I was born. That's also when my mom started telling me that I should become and engineer. And rightly so. I liked solving problems, building things, taking things apart, fixing things, I was good at math...you get the picture. She had the best intentions and encouraged me to pursue what I was good at and what I liked doing.

I didn't write a single line of code in highschool. So, when it came to picking a major, the only reason I even considered a CS degree was because I was technologically inclined and becuase my favorite class up to that point had been, what my highschool called, "Technology", which was essentially Photoshop and Excel for beginners.

I caught on to PS pretty quickly, so once I learned the basics, I designed this very Material-Design-looking UI for fun. That's a mockup of a to-do app homepage that I designed in Photoshop and literally exported as FOR FUN.jpeg. When I wasn't learning magic tricks, that's apparently what I was doing for fun in 2016.

I had rooted (and bricked and then revived) multiple Androids at this point and spent ridiculous amounts of time designing my mobile software experience through launchers, icon packs, and custom ROMs. I was a UI/UX designer at age 17, but I didn't know that was a thing, so I was still convinced I was going to be an engineer.

So did I pick a CS degree or an engineering degree? Yes. Software Engineering.

Software Engineering at ONU, as a major, split ENGR and CSIS courses 50/50 and existed for maybe 6 years. Myself and the 6 other software engineering majors of 2021 were the last to graduate from ONU. The engineering half of my college education has become arguably useless and the computer science half prepared me to work on microcontrollers and write Java...which did not excite me.

What did excite me? As a project for my year-long sophomore Java course, we had to replicate the classic Simon game using NXT robots. I completed the project in record time. Then I spent about twice as long designing the monochromatic pixel art that displayed the player's level, the high score, and the navigation menu. That was not required work; I just got really passionate about it for some reason. In my Android development course, I discovered adaptive icons. Fun fact, on Andoird O and later, every app icon can be multiple layers and they can react to your scolling in an elastic-like animation, which is so cool and satisfying. I enjoyed designing those silly little icons more than actually programming the apps. Again, we weren't required to create adaptive icons for our apps and our prof never taught us about them; I was just passionate.

Finally, senior year rolled around. I needed some filler classes to be considered a full time student and be allowed to live on campus. I added an art/programming course to my last semester of college. We developed a 2D scroller game, and 3D kart racing game in Unity, an app prototype in Adobe XD, and two websites: one to sell something that we could offer as an individual and one to display all our projects from the course. I was hooked! The game development projects didn't really speak to me, but I was incredibly excited about app prototyping and web development because they clicked. I understood the course material with ease and my projects were miles ahead of my classmates'. Surprisingly, I was the guy helping my classmates instead of the guy asking his classmates for help (which was usually the case).

The year prior to this class, I went home for spring break and never came back, due to COVID. During that whole "stay at home or you'll die and if you don't die you'll kill someone else" summer of 2020, I started an online clothing store through Shopify. I only mention this because it was a huge part in discovering my passion for web development/design. I loved designing each page of the website, even though it was tedious. I grew passionate about content layout, interaction animations, and user experience through this project. At this point, I still hadn't really written in any web development languages because I could do most of what I wanted through Shopify or their plugins. But, this was my first taste of HTML, CSS, and Javascript because every once in a while they were required to get my vision for a page pixel perfect.

The rest really is history. Senior year I went deep down the web dev and UI design YouTube rabbit holes and, shortly after graduating, somehow got the job I'm at now where I'm still constantly learning and feel totally incompetnant next to my much more experienced coworkers.

At this point I'm your average frontend web developer. I've found my place.

When I see a massive html file I get excited and want to figure out how the entire structure works. I've wasted time redesigning craiglist in the devTools. I watched the entire Tailwind Connect talk on YouTube. I'm obsessed with every new framework and node module I learn about. I made my own VSCode theme. Half the reason I use Arc Browser is for the icon animations. I've spent time and money on two UI design courses taught by a YouTuber who owns a design agency. A decent percentage of my brain's storage is filled with keyboard shortcuts. I look back at code I only wrote a year ago and cringe. I have a folder of bookmarks titled "things I want to use one day" that includes Pinia, Oruga, and Penpot. Just yesterday I was geeking out about this color contrast chart website and want to make a poster out of it.

These are just a few reasons why a senior backend dev I work with and respect once told me, "You have problems."

I love the internet. And I want to improve as a web developer every day, so that I can make it a more beautiful, useful, and encouraging place.

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