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Advice on avoiding taking an entire Udemy course every time I don't know how to do something?

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Mid-Level Software Engineer at Taro Community2 months ago

I'm working on my side project. A web app.

I know a little of html and css just the basics but now I want to extend my app and make it more visually attractive and I noticed I went to Udemy to look for Modern CSS course etc.

It will take me 20+ hours just to know what to do plus the time I take doing the work.

This approach is not working for me and not gonna finish the project by the deadline I set myself.

What are your thoughts? How you learn something while applying it at the same time?



  • 24
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    2 months ago

    Here's my playbook for learning fast with side projects:

    1. Decompose the project into tiny chunks
    2. Google and StackOverflow your way through each chunk. Sprinkle in some ChatGPT while you're at it
    3. Eventually all the chunks will line up and your project will be complete

    I started doing Android back in 2013. Those were dark times. I was using Eclipse (which is terrible, thank god we have Android Studio now), and there weren't a ton of high-quality tutorials. So I had to hack and scrap and stitch stuff together to get my apps working. 11 years later, I have published 30+ apps to Google Play with 4 million+ users combined.

    Don't feel pressured to write high-quality code or deeply understand what's going on underneath when you're just starting. Just build.

    Follow the advice here to learn how to decompose a project: "How do I make software less overwhelming?"

    I know that we're trying to get away from courses, but if you have the time, I recommend my code quality course as well (it's just 3.5 hours instead of 20): [Course] Level Up Your Code Quality As A Software Engineer

  • 13
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    Eng @ Taro
    2 months ago

    20+ hours is a long time to do research. There could be a few reasons why this is happening.

    • It's easy to fall into a trap where you watch the videos because it's easier than writing out code. Watching videos can give you quick satisfaction where it feels like you are making progress even though there is nothing to show for it.
    • You don't want to write incorrect code. The great thing is that there's no one to judge your side project code. This will give you an opportunity to throw the kitchen sink at the problem and try everything.
    • It is also possible that you haven't been exposed to enough CSS, which is why you are looking for a comprehensive course that can teach you everything. While this is good for learning, your goal is shipping your project within a certain timeline, so this isn't the route to take. I haven't tried this before, but have you tried to ask ChatGPT questions to point you in the right direction? This way you can avoid learning things unrelated to the problem you are trying to solve.

    It's also helpful to break down your tasks into smaller tasks (like max 1 hour time) and timebox each of your tasks to make sure you don't spend too much time on them. For a side project, it might make sense to cut tasks to keep that momentum going.

  • 8
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    Data Engineer @ CI Financial
    2 months ago

    Just want to +1 what Alex and Charlie said and say that ChatGPT/Bard/Copilot has personally helped me avoid courses. I now have an aid always available to give me feedback about tactics (coding) or strategy (design/architecture).

    In pre-historic times before ChatGPT, when I had a question, I'd Google it and have to sort through the links. If my answer wasn't easy to find in those links, I might throw up the question on Stack Overflow and wait a day or two (or more) until someone responded, if they did at all. That might kill my momentum. Now, AI is always there to give me a hand (cue the creepy music).

    Of course, you will still need to Google things sometimes, sort through links and StackOverflow answers, and perhaps ask a few yourself, but AI can do a great job dealing with low-hanging fruit and help you see more clearly where your gaps are and where to invest.

    Hope that's helpful!