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My UI Skill Building Journey - Introduction

I’m terrible at UI. I can hack together HTML and CSS, smash together components from frameworks, but I do not generally build anything from scratch because it’s too hard. I’m the kind of UI person that buys and licenses libraries because I don’t have the time, skill or patience to deep dive.

So I told myself in May 2021, I’ll do 30-60 minutes a day learning some UI skills and how to make them not suck. Like most IT people, I have ideas for proof-of-concepts, tools and systems that I would love to see alive and kicking. I’m learning these skills so I can see my Frankenstein’s walk around trying to eat people and not to build a sell-out company.

Time is always in short supply, so I need to take a 80/20 approach. That means learning something popular that has an active and friendly community and not something nerdy because it’s 1337. I don’t have time to invest into the special kids club.

What do I know today, what don’t I know (this doesn’t account for what I don’t know I don’t know) and what I want to do. Make sense? Thought so.

Ok and happy

  • HTML
  • CSS
  • Databases & ORM
  • Go (I’m not new to Go and forgot everything I once knew about Python 2.6/7)
  • Back-end architecture
  • Websockets

Terrible

  • JavaScript
  • Front-end heavy apps
  • iOS/Android
  • Building custom controls

What do I want to do?

  • Build forms that don’t suck
  • Create dashboards that operate API first (instead of me rendering HTML on the back-end)
  • Integrate with an identity system (user management) from the front-end as well as back-end
  • Do this quickly and build a set of re-usable components

After some deliberation, conversations and generally just mooching about on the UI scene (read-only creepy lurker mode), I’ve decided to go with React and learn StoryBook. I’ll stay with Go for the back-end and will try and couple with KeyCloak for the user management system.

First job is to find some half decent training material. I’m not looking for certified (re)training and don’t want to commit to homework (I have a time issue), and just need solid material I can work through. I checked out Udemy, Coursera and Pluralsight. All of my needs seems to point to React and after some reading, I’ve decided to start with this:

https://www.pluralsight.com/paths/building-web-applications-with-react

I’ll look at building a small deployment pipeline that takes my crappy code and stands it up either with NGINX or a Go webserver for ease. As for tests, I don’t know how to go about building them yet, so will explore that option once I get the bigger picture.

Also, I’ve heard and great things about StoryBook, which allows you to build out components as you go through your projects. I’ll be digging into that for sure.

This lack of UI skill has haunted me for a significant amount of time. This is the first blog on my UI journey and I’ll create weekly posts documenting all of my disasters, monsters and triumphs, of which I expect very few initially.

Check back here as the weeks progress for some fun updates: https://dave.dev/uijourney

As for funding and like normal, I’ll try and maximize ‘on the cheap’, but where it warrants, cash will be flashed.

But Dave, you’re a nobody, why are you blogging this?

I use this blog as an index into knowledge I once had mastery or clarity on. Secondly, it might be useful for anyone else going on this journey for a short time. You might not feel alone or as foolish as me on this topic.

Dave

  • Tags: Software Development, UI
  • Categories: uijourney