An Atypical Angular Coder

Let’s just get it out there.  I spent 26 years in the software world, working for companies in the Seattle area starting with Microsoft and ending with Expedia.

I didn’t start learning to program until I was 31, so you do the math– I’m pretty old for a programmer these days.

I don’t have a college degree.  I learned to program by teaching myself in an era where there were no courses online and I only knew one programmer, who worked for the law firm at which I was a secretary.  He encouraged me, but didn’t want to teach me, so I floundered around, reading books and experimenting and eventually figured some stuff out.  In those days, companies were desperate for programmers and the bar for getting a job was pretty low.  But getting my foot in the door was what I needed, and the rest is history.

Now I have retired early and moved to the Blue Ridge mountains, and enjoy learning on my own, coding stuff for myself and possibly one day for online consumption by others.

I’m a woman, in case you haven’t guessed.  I want to encourage everyone to learn, but especially other women.  Things are different now than they used to be.  I had to learn to be aggressive to succeed, many do not.  I was called “sweetheart” at meetings, “stupid” by co-workers who didn’t understand what I was suggesting (autocomplete, anyone?) and generally got by the old-fashioned way– bowing and scraping to the guys.  Don’t get me wrong– I like guys, especially smart guys (I married one!).  But it was hard to do at times.

In the last 5 years, I managed to work with some fabulous people, many of them men, who weren’t so condescending and whom I developed great friendships with.  One in particular got me really interested in JavaScript.  (We were on a team that used a variety of technologies in the stack:  Java for the service, C# for the business layer, C# MVC and JavaScript for the client.  It was a huge code base and we had strict measures in place for code quality and pull requests.  All of the developers were expected to be able to code in all stacks.  Toward the end of my tenure there, we also started using AWS API Gateway and Lambdas, and a little bit of Angular.)

Because my friend Mark had piqued my interest in Angular and reactive programming, I was way ahead of everyone on my team and was able to help when they chose Angular to use on a new product.  But by doing so I realized how much I didn’t know, how much I still have to learn.

So here I am, writing about this in the hope that you will find some ideas and solutions as you learn the same things I do.  I’m not a teacher and I won’t be able to explain how things work all the time, but I will explain what I figure out to address certain situations, even if it just means pointing to some other source.  You might tell me a better way to code some things, and I would be grateful.  Hopefully we help each other learn and improve in this quickly-changing world of open source software.

Since I didn’t go to computer science classes, I won’t always be able to use the terms others would use, and this is a shame.  I learned patterns by doing them, not by reading about them and then being able to say oh! I think I’ll use the adapter pattern for this… so I can’t even really tell you which pattern I’m using at times.  But maybe it doesn’t matter, as long as the code is done well.  So let me emphasize:

I am not an expert!

My goal is not only to get better at Angular, but also at some point to feel comfortable giving back to the open source community.  There are far too few females doing that, and I don’t think I’m too old yet!


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