Monday, December 29, 2014

Accelerating the visualizations project.

Remember that project on visualizing data structures and algorithms I mentioned from earlier today? Yeah, it's getting real. 

After blazing through the core requirements for our sprint on AJAX, XSS guarding, and jQuery, my pair partner and I placed on hold the eventual refactor into Backbone that we'll commence tomorrow. We've both done the Backbone tutorials on CodeSchool, so it should progress quickly as well. 

Finding ourselves with "free time" around 9:30pm, I rounded up my partner-in-crime for the data visualizations project for a kickoff meeting. In the process, I roped in my pair partner for the current sprint, because he was hanging around, seems vaguely interested, and is a really intelligent and capable coder. It was fun playing the role of networker and team recruiter. 

Our first meeting last night went better than I could've hoped. We spent the entire hour discussing our personal goals and motivations for the project, which led into establishing a mission statement. We have a fairly clear understanding of the project's scope and intention, about which we can organize and rally. Such discussions often strike (less wise?) people as unnecessary and a waste of time, but I genuinely think these early conversations can make or break a project. Clear mission can prove invaluable to motivating a team. I'm so glad that others valued it equally, as evidenced by the sincerity with which they engaged in the conversation. We didn't settle for an "-ish" mission statement -- we wanted to know exactly our goals. 

I'm feeling very excited about this project. It will not simply be a random collection of notes and thoughts. It will deliver high-quality learning tools for understanding fundamental building blocks of CS: data structures and algorithms. We are building something to show to potential employers with pride, and to share with the broader community to improve learning. In the process, we will develop mastery of the topics we feature. 

I'm impressed it took so little time to settle upon an interesting pet project idea, one that has great potential. I'm so glad that I could recruit a couple others to my project, because I'm genuinely interested in it and am so happy that others are too. There's something gratifying about watching others get on board with your project idea, or at least with your leadership -- the last part is to acknowledge the idea's invariable morphing upon the inclusion of others. This happened once before -- at Stanford with Engineers for a Sustainable World. It's been a while since I was in a project leader role, and it feels good to be back. We'll see if that role remains necessary, but at the least I'm happy to provide the initial leadership. 

Maybe one day it may become a monetizable idea, or it may not; either way, we are committing to creating high-grade professional code. Building a better quality product is good for us -- it feels good to take pride in what you build -- and good for our bottom line -- be it as a portfolio piece or a monetizable website. 

I had to drag myself away from the building at 10:45pm, acknowledging the 60-minute commute that awaited me (night trips generally take longer). All I wanted to do was delve into the finer points of project architecture, our next steps in development, and setting up the scaffolding that will support our collaboration. My mind is alight with excitement. I hope I'll be able to sleep. 

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