Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Review - Web Development Bootcamp part 3: Hack Reactor - curriculum and student projects


A long title indeed, let's talk about what is worthy at Hack Reactor. Not the curriculum, and not the student projects, I thought initially! Because the curriculum across the board is generally live instruction  + video cast instructions, sort of like the online learning shops, but with a few live teachers that can answer your questions.

The instructors at Hack Reactor turned out to be very prominent and effective. I have since then met many who are passionate about their work at the extraordinary bootcamp. Then I wrote about the miscellaneous at the bootcamp including job prospects, which end up exceeding expectation. But a fair warning indeed, we all have to take stats with a grain of salt. Stats can lie and but misleading. Until, we are on the pirate ship, we really won't know what it will be like.

I wrote Hack Reactor multiple times urging them to make curriculum screenshots public, at least one or two pieces of those screenshots. I seriously thought it was one of the highlights! One sentence conclusion: Hack Reactor curriculum / courses are build by developers for future developers!

These are not read the usual suspect: Michael Hartl's Rails or Eloquent JavaScript, but go to Github, Git Clone, do some pull requests and push some real changes to the repository and receive real feedback on the git issues like real developers would. Using Git in realistic situations, check. Using Git to collaborate, check.

The exercises are game-like, challenging and non-trivial. Each exercise is like a mini project that teaches a core concept. And the programmer will complete this slightly challenging exercise and then submit the challenges for a pull request review.

What do I mean by they are build for developers by developers? I have seen the live private demo of one exercise by the co-founder Tony, who showed me that the exercise was like a puzzle built for browsers. Students clone the codes, open them in the browser, and interact with the Google Developer Tool - the development console, to excavate clues and hints leading to the next step - puzzles was the word that immediately jumped to my mind.

I hope i have a screenshot here soon because I really love what I saw! It was a marriage of the not-yet-interactive Codecademy lesson with very good developer logic build in. But similarly to Codecademy, they use the local dev console very well. 

Student Projects

In the bay area, the undeniable prestigious bootcamp house that is filled up for the next few months is the early-comer : Dev Bootcamp. It is one of the first of the Bay Area, and surely has ridden the early-comer advantage along with the popularity of Rails. But if you have signed up for the Hack Reactor newsletter you will realize that Hack Reactor has made news often in Wired, TechCrunch and beyond.

Here's the recent project covering Reddit Insights . And its honorable mention in the press TechCrunch. Did you know that it isn't easy to get TechCrunch coverage? As a part of the Y Combinator benefit is an guaranteed press article in TechCrunch. And they are very proud of the thousands of unique visitors obtained.

And if TechCrunch coverage is no specialty, as I am not a complete techie and have been covered before : P, maybe Wired Magazine's world record setting move is convincing enough?

Again the usual selection bias warning here from the walks of Economics and Statistics : these are clearly extreme examples and by nature tend not to happen to everyone. Nevertheless, something of note: some bling is better than nothing. It can be you, too! Just watch out plenty of times, it's still another guy/girl in a magazine and not you... not yet.

reddit insight student project at Hack Reactor
The creators explain how this app works.

In fact, Hack Reactor's student projects have caught my attention early, way before I was shown these projects. My favorite one was the Logic Mason's Github project . Unfortunately the project is no longer visible. But it was a beautiful group project that uses Github's API to analyze in real time the geolocation of commits, allowing a D3 JavaScript library visualization of dev team commits. Imagine if you are a CTO showing off your global dev team? Or rapid deployment, rapid prototyping? Loved that the D3 library also allowed me to pull apart the graph. The 404 error shows the backend is Node.js  : )

Github API use student project at Hack Reactor

My Economics buddy at our rivalry school - Berkeley, Bianca was a student and TA at Hack Reactor

Attendees having food with Tony the co-founder and CEO


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