Day 14 – Finishing up Flask Fundamentals

Today I got a concrete goal to work towards! I got permission from Instructor Fiaz to follow the original Python track and take the belt exam on the Friday of week three! That means, assuming I pass, I’ll be able to take part in project week! I’m gonna power on full speed ahead from now on in order to reach that goal.

I don’t think I mentioned this before, so I’ll take this chance to explain. You see, on my cohort’s first day of Python this past Monday, we were suddenly informed that Coding Dojo had changed the curriculum of the Python stack. Originally, Coding Dojo taught all three stacks using the same format. Three weeks of accelerated learning of the material, and then “Project Week” for the last week. Project week is when students that earned their black belts on the previous Friday get in groups and work together on a fully-fledged project that they then present on the last Friday of the stack. Chances are, project week is when students work on what will eventually become their most valuable resume material for their impending job hunts. We only get three project weeks, so that means three portfolio projects. When I found out that Coding Dojo removed project week from the Python stack to instead give students four solid weeks of slightly less-accelerated learning… imagine my disappointment. Meanwhile the rest of the cohort seems to be delighted with the change after hearing from previous cohorts about how brutal the Python stack was for them.

I suppose I can understand the reasons for the Dojo’s decision. Apparently, the previous couple cohorts only had about a 30% participation rate in the Python stack project week. That also means only 30% of the students passed the belt exam on the first try. So, in order to get the numbers back up, they want to give everyone more time to absorb the material. Losing one of my three chances to make something significant was pretty disappointing, but I still managed to stay positive with the hope that if I could get sufficiently far ahead and convince the instructors to let me take the belt exam early I might still be able to squeeze myself into the project week lineup. And today my hopes were confirmed!

(I usually write these blog posts on the train home from the dojo and post before bed, but the sunset during the train ride home was so spectacular yesterday that I couldn’t help but stop staring at my phone. So I’m finishing up this post on the morning of day 15!)

Anyways, the majority of day 14 was spent finishing up Flask material, which at this point was mostly about how to set up form validation. Validation checks themselves are just conditionals, but now I know how to flash messages and assign categories to flashed messages. Pretty useful stuff. I also figured out how to actually use regular expressions for checks as well, which is totally awesome.

After finishing the last of Flask fundamentals, I moved on to MySQL. The whole first section on MySQL is all about creating ERD’s in MySQL Workbench. The concepts of database design are familiar to me due to my experience dealing with CoreData in iOS, but so far it seems like MySQL is missing one important feature of the databases I’d been designing previously. There’s no inverse relationships! Instead what I have to do is make an intermediary table every time I have a many to many relationship between two entities in order to link them together. What a pain! I talked to the instructor a little bit about MySQL and CoreData comparison, and he said that CoreData is actually using SQLite under the hood and that we’re going to get into that when we get to Django. So now I’m looking forward to Django. Anyways, I didn’t get to the part where I’m actually using a MySQL database yet, I’ve only made a few relationship diagrams in the workbench, so I’ll be getting to that today, I think.

Also, the end of day 14 was Coding Dojo Chicago’s launch party. They set up the whole dojo to be shown to the outside world, and the recent graduates all set up booths around the main room to show off their projects to potential employers, science fair style. There was food and drink, so I took part in that and walked around to check out the projects, but I didn’t stay for the whole thing. There was some official-looking guest speaker that I kinda wanted to stick around to listen to, but it was taking so long for the presentation to start that I just left early. Didn’t want to keep my lovely wife waiting too long for me back home!

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