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Self-Taught Programmer: Codementor is a Great Alternative to StackOverflow

–  Mar 11, 2016

David is soon to turning 47 and has tried his hand at many different kinds of work. He started out as an elementary school teacher, but has spent the last seven years or so as an EKG monitor reader in a hospital. About two years ago, David had an idea for an app which he though had real potential, so he decided to learn web programming with the help of books and websites along with endless trial and errors. For David, it was a very steep learning curve to go from knowing nothing to building a full scale web app. “At times I’ve described the process as either a mountain climb or wrestling match,” David says. Finally, David realized that this app needed full time attention if he was going to get anywhere soon, so he took a year off work and lived on savings and credit cards all the while immersing himself in the app. Although his full-time programming sabbatical is ending soon, he hopes to launch his app in six months at 1000Miles.com

What Brought David to Codementor

I think many people would describe the process of learning and doing web development as a roller coaster of frustration and elation – with frustration the most common! When you’re learning anything new – especially something as complicated as web development, there will be many moments frustration. Not only are there a million different technologies and approaches, but everything changes in the meantime.

I always tried to figure out problems on my own, and a certain amount of this is necessary for learning. The trouble is that this process can take up to a week – and you may not even have the knowledge to resolve it. I felt that with my limited, concentrated time to finish my app, I couldn’t wait that long. Sometimes I was just plain stuck and couldn’t figure a way out on my own. So I finally made the break and started a session with my first mentor.

How David Used Codementor

Since I began my project, manipulating HTML with pure JavaScript or jQuery has become old-fashioned, and frameworks like React are taking the lead. MySQL and PHP are losing ground to NoSQL databases like Mongo and server-side JavaScript with Node.js. In addition, a new version of JavaScript came out! So just when a newcomer like me starts to get comfortable with some of the basics, a new set of basics comes along! This is where Codementor has been invaluable for me. I don’t care how many books you read, web tutorials you do, or videos you watch, you’re going to run into difficulties when you either try to set up software packages or write your own code. You’ll run into many situations that weren’t “covered” there. You have a few common options: ask a question on Stack Overflow or some other forum or post an issue on GitHub. The trouble is that 1.) you may not get an answer, 2.) the answer may take a while to come, and 3.) the answer may not help you. With Codementor I just broadcast my problem, and I get help within the hour! The best part is that the help is not general – it’s specific to my code, and you talk to a real live person so you can ask questions and get all kinds of professional pointers along the way. In addition, you can build relationships with a few special mentors who become your “goto” people for certain issues or technologies.

David’s Experience with Codementor

One of my first great mentor experiences was with Jon Tewksbury. I was trying to learn my first JavaScript framework – Backbone.js with Marionette, and was running into difficulties. I instantly felt comfortable with Jon. He uses these frameworks every day and was able to solve my two main problems in about 15 minutes! Not only that, but he told me about how so many Backbone sites were now converting to React and that the development experience was so much better. Many of the old Backbone headaches were gone. I decided soon after that to switch to React and I haven’t looked back. It really is awesome and so completely different from the “old-fashioned” way of doing web apps. I still use Jon as my main React mentor to this day and he’s even given me his personal email where he answers my shorter questions! I’ve used many other mentors for different problems – working with people as far as India, Taiwan, and Latvia!! It’s always been a positive experience even when we can’t solve my issue.

What David Likes about Codementor

Obviously I’m a big fan of Codementor.

I would recommend Codementor to anyone who is learning a new software technology or just needs another pair of eyes to look at their code.

It can save you countless hours and teach you things that you wouldn’t see on your own! What I like most about Codementor is the instant connection with people around the world who are experts on your issue. But the thing that makes this all possible is the great web interface. You can see and talk to your mentor in real-time while sharing your screen, and even your mouse if you like! The mentor can also type code in the Codementor window to show you different examples. Many also will send you links to places to look further. The other cool feature is the message service. There I can easily contact my previous mentors to send a quick note or ask for their help again. Now that I’ve “taken the plunge” into Codementor, I wouldn’t go back to my old days of solo “plugging away” at code problems.


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