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FreeCodeCamp Review A working developer reviews freeCodeCamp (2019)

realtoughcandy profile image RealToughCandy.io ・8 min read

This video originally appeared on YouTube. Come check me out there!

If you’re a self-taught developer, odds are you’ve heard of freeCodeCamp.

This non-profit platform has helped countless developers find their path. But it’s not for everyone.

In fact, as a code newbie I produced a not-so-nice video about how frustrating their platform was. 

Fast forward a few years...Have things changed with freeCodeCamp? Is it worth your time? Check out today’s review video with self-taught web developer RealToughCandy.


Transcript (HUGE thank you to dev.to member Sherri for transcribing the video!):

Today I'm gonna say the F-word and it's something I haven't said in quite some months on this channel. I try to keep the channel clean, I try to keep it family-friendly, but I'm just gonna say it...FreeCodeCamp. Let's talk about it.

(Phone ringing) Hello?

Hey, what's up developers? This is Real Tough Candy here...I'm a self-taught web developer hanging out. It's a beautiful evening here in the park. Boys and ghouls, may I present to you the idea of FreeCodeCamp in 2019.

I'm shaking with adrenaline here. (Laughs) This happens every time I do a video, even though I have one of these selfie-stick-majiggy-thing-a-majigs. Let's talk about this FreeCodeCamp thing. Now a few years ago, one of my earliest videos as Real Tough Candy, I produced a review on FreeCodeCamp. I was a VERY frustrated newbie. Um, there was one portion...there was a JavaScript Challenge, the Fahrenheit to Celsius challenge or Celsius to Fahrenheit challenge, I forget what it was exactly, uh, that one just really for some reason triggered me, and I said okay that's it, I'm doing a video! It was getting a few thousand views a day, and I finally had to put the video on private just because like, after a year, it really didn't represent me as a developer, and it was just like, a pretty immature video. It was pretty, uh, it was a pretty emotionally immature video. Now granted, I have the emotional maturity of a broken toaster. The best thing about that video though was Quincy Larson, the founder of FreeCodeCamp, actually watched that video, and he took me seriously! He took me serious, he wrote this comment, you know we're always trying to improve the platform and it was really validating, but then I was like really embarrassed, so that's another reason why I made the video private.

But anyways, fast-forward a few years, I've had a few years time now to interact with all sorts of developers from very, very code newbie hatchling all the way to senior developers who've been in the business for ten, fifteen, and twenty years, and for some people, FreeCodeCamp is a godsend, because number one, it's free. You cannot compete with free, so for those who are on a really tight budget, or if you're not really sure if you want to do this thing, you're not really sure if coding is for you...I mean all you're investing is a little bit of your time rather than $15 or $15,000 for an in-person code bootcamp.

The other thing with FreeCodeCamp is that it's going beyond just the tutorials. They have these built-in code playgrounds where you can test your code, you can break stuff and unbreak it, and get your feet wet that way. They also have a bustling YouTube channel along with a pretty robust, uh, forum for students. Um, I did an interview quite some months ago with a few self-taught web developers, um, and one of the interviewees just really was passionate about FreeCodeCamp and how it helped him and his story is one of many where this platform has helped people. I've also met a few developers who have taken like a Udemy course and then pair it with FreeCodeCamp, and that's one of the big things...the big benefits with FreeCodeCamp being free, is that because it's free, it's portable and you're not locked into it. You don't feel that...that obligation of "Well, I paid $50 for it, I should finish it" or "I should do it in such-and-such a way." You don't have to do it such-and-such a way. You can take Colt Steele's Coding Bootcamp and then test your knowledge with FreeCodeCamp's JavaScript section. Shout out to smorales, he's using that method or he has used that method, and he works at Google. Um, so, it's people of all abilities and of all job statuses.

So my perception of FreeCodeCamp has really changed since I was a frustrated newbie. Ah, and looking back, I was frustrated at everything. It wasn't FreeCodeCamp's fault that I didn't know how to code. I was really hoping that FreeCodeCamp could be the ONE...the one and only to show me how JavaScript algorithms work, to show me the difference, the ACTUAL difference, between double equals signs and triple equals signs aside from just a one sentence definition.

The thing with FreeCodeCamp is that they don't have extensive documentation. It's not page after page after page of how this stuff works. They're more challenging you how to code rather than teaching you how to code. So, very early on you have these challenges, and let's be honest, getting through the HTML and CSS seems easy, breezy, and then we hit that JavaScript section like "Aaaaaaaa!" The JavaScript section is very tough for so many people, and that's where I find most people giving up on it. And their lack of documentation forces you to go elsewhere, and I think that's where a lot of frustration comes from, because we ARE just desperate for this one-stop shop where we can learn how to do it, learn why it works like it does, and solve all of these problems. Their JavaScript section is like 300 hours worth of material, but I think for the average self-taught developer or the average newbie trying to become a self-taught web developer, using FreeCodeCamp as a main platform does come with a lot of strings attached. Uh, because again, because it's mostly challenge-based and they're having you code a lot, but as far as knowing the theories, as far as understanding, you know, execution stacks and all this kind of theoretical stuff, you're not gonna find it there. And that's ok. It doesn't have to be an all-in-one, all-inclusive thing. Just take what you can use.

Also the community there seems to be really enthusiastic. I've never posted there, but I've lurked quite a bit of different posts just to see what the dynamic was like. There are a lot of positive people there, uh, encouraging others. Some of my earliest, most popular videos were doing code walkthroughs of these JavaScript challenges that FreeCodeCa, FreeCodeCamp gives you...there's like a Blackjack challenge...different challenges, um, and I think, I think they're great for practicing, uh, but as your first exposure to JavaScript, and as your first exposure to computer programming, you're gonna be on YouTube checking out how to solve these things. There's a reason those videos have thousands of views, because so many people just get stuck when they hit JavaScript. Uh, and the HTML and CSS can be kinda tricky, because HTML and CSS are very procedural and they're not programming languages. And worlds change and worlds collide when you start learning a programming language because it starts to become very abstract very quickly, and it's not like just throwing up an H1 and seeing a result...there's loops, there's conditionals, there's all these different programming things, JavaScript syntax, and all this other stuff. Ah, so it's a very different, very different experience and it can throw a lot of people off.

All in all, I think FreeCodeCamp can help almost any developer. They've helped me in ways that I didn't think they could...shout out to Beau Carnes! Uh, he's invited me on the channel twice, on their YouTube channel twice, to do videos. Um you know they're helping my career, and so I have to give a shout out to them, you know, a few years into my career. They're helping people in ways they may not have thought of initially. Um, and I think if you are considering becoming a developer, consider FreeCodeCamp as a source, but not the only one. I think you might be missing out on quite a few opportunities just sticking with their ecosystem, but that can be said with any other thing. Uh, Andrei Neagoie, a great instructor on Udemy, but if you just stick with his, like, ecosystem, I abuse that word but it's so apt in so many situations...if you just stick with him you're missing out on different opportunities, different people, different challenges, different projects, uh, elsewhere. So I think it's good to diversify whether you're doing FreeCodeCamp or something else.

I am not a angry aspiring developer anymore, so I've mellowed out and I can turn around and start assessing things, I think, more levelheadedly. Not that my review is the one and only you should abide by or listen to...and I've said this on the channel before...if you're, even if it's me, you shouldn't rely on just one person to give you information or guide you. Ask different people. If you have a mentor, it's ok to have two! You know, that mentor, they're trying to help you, and they're probably gonna help you, but what's wrong with another one? What's wrong with another perspective? It's healthy to have multiple perspectives and then you'll be able to choose the one that fits your path the best.

What are your thoughts on FreeCodeCamp? Especially you code newbies out there, I want to hear from you because this is a platform geared towards you, but I do wanna hear everyone's thoughts. Because if you're a self-taught developer, you've heard of FreeCodeCamp, you probably have an account there even if you've forgotten about it. So let me know your thoughts.

This is the last video I'm gonna do without a microphone...my Patreons are so frickin' awesome. They directly fund this channel and they just bought me a, uh, smartphone mic that's gonna clip on right here in a few days, so "Yessss!" Thank you guys so much! Again, you guys are directly funding this channel. Somebody asked me the other day, "Don't you have money to buy things with your salary or you know what you're doing?" and I'm like "I do, but the Patreons are the ones who directly fund this channel." So your money is really appreciated and it's going to upgrade this channel, so rock on! Thanks for watching guys! I hope you're having a great day and I'll see you in the next video.

(Exit music)

Selena, do you wanna help me look at this book? You wanna help me look at this book? Get your butt out of the camera. Com'ere.

It's, uh, it's uh kinda cold out there. It's kinda cold out there.

Selena, can you get off my lap so I can do this video? Can you please move? Thank you.

It's still kinda cold in here too.

Posted on by:

realtoughcandy profile

RealToughCandy.io

@realtoughcandy

Owner/Founder of www.realtoughcandy.io. Real-world web development! 100% indie software dev; author; instructor; follow me on YouTube! youtube.com/realtoughcandy

Discussion

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With nearly 20 years as a web developer I decided to go through the entire freeCodeCamp curriculum last month. My goal was the Node.js part as that’s what I’m less experienced with but went through it all just for kicks. Most of the RWD, JS and React was nothing new to me but the thing is there’s always a little gem you’ve forgotten or never gotten into. It happened. I did learn a few new things in every module.
So I’d say it’s well worth for everyone and not at all reason to be ashamed about going through it. Would recommend to anyone.
I’m now going through The Odin Project which is similar. Especially excited about the Node.js and the Rails modules.
Best!

 

Hi Alex! It's great to hear feedback from someone already in the field. From going through the curriculum, which sections do you recommend for a person going into front end development? Also did you feel that Data Structures and Algorithms section is a good way to learn what is needed for interviews focusing on DS & Alg's? Thanks!

 

Wheter you use any platform or what. The key to be a programmer is get your brain sense to think like a programmer, not just tutorial of using tools. When you're on web programming had many resource, but when comes to system programming with the less resource, material, docs without any code example, you should get your brain to think what it does, how to do this. Thats why freecodecamp built. They want all people to think like programmer.