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Sophia Li
Sophia Li

Posted on • Updated on • Originally published at sophiali.dev

5 Things I Learned From Coding with Other People: My First Web Development Team Project

When I started my self-taught programming journey, I followed tutorials, read countless blogs, and built projects on my own for two months. Though I built a solid programming foundation, I was lacking crucial competencies of being a great software developer: collaborating, communicating, and building with a team. I closed this gap by joining Chingu, a remote program that matches you with other developers to collaborate and launch real projects.

I met every Monday morning with a team of three web developers for weekly standup calls. Together, we brainstormed, overcame obstacles, laughed, and learned. In six weeks, we deployed MoTo. Momentum is a popular productivity Google Chrome Extension; MoTo is a clone of Momentum with additional features, a pomodoro tracker and Most Important Tasks (MIT) feature. We even launched our product in the Chrome Extension Store!

These are 5 things I learned from working with my first web development team:

1. Scope out a realistic Minimum Viable Project (MVP)

During our product ideation phase, we brain dumped all our feature ideas on a shared Google Doc. We then prioritized our features based off of our six-week time restraint, our current programming knowledge, and predicted value brought to the user. After some discussion, we trimmed down our list to a set of ten MVP and two bonus features. Scoping out a realistic MVP allowed us to account for unpredictable issues, debugging, and deployment. Ultimately, not only did we complete our MVP by the project deadline, we also launched it in the Chrome Store, which was a bonus feature.

2. Ask questions, ask for help, and ask for clarification

It's ok to ask questions if you don't understand something! My teammate, Rafael, once patiently walked me through a Git issue I had in thirty minutes. This is something that I probably would've kept Googling for at least an hour if I hadn't asked for help. Additionally, some concepts are more easily conveyed through visuals instead of words, especially design. When we needed clarification about a design idea during meetings, we often followed up with a quick sketch to effectively share our idea.

3. Practice good knowledge and project management strategies

Knowledge management is the creation, sharing, and organization of information. We used Google Docs as our central hub for organizing and collaborating on non-code related documents. We shared one Google folder which contained essential documents such as our brainstorms, meeting notes, and blog posts. Project management is the initiation, planning, execution, monitoring, and closing of a project. We used Zenhub, which was an effective tool because it integrates directly with Github and allowed us to easily update and track our issues. Lastly, we also followed agile methodology, which allowed us to work leanly and iterate quickly on our designs and feature development. Establishing these processes and structures upfront during our first week allowed us to work effectively and efficiently.

4. Communicate actively

Our main communication methods were our weekly standup calls and Discord team channel. Our weekly calls were the perfect opportunity to discuss roadblocks, clarify questions, and determine next steps. We used Discord for all of our asynchronous communication. Updates, questions, successes, and challenges were always actively being discussed in our group chat. Clear and active communication allows for common understanding and a clear path forward.

5. Surround yourself with motivated and supportive people

I was incredibly lucky to have worked with three extremely smart and supportive individuals. We leaned on each others strengths, solved problems together, and ultimately launched a product together. Many thanks to my wonderful team, Ola, Ming, and Rafael for making our first team web development project a smashing success!

This was my first time collaborating with other programmers to build a real project, and I was nervous to start! Despite the nerves, I’m so glad I joined the team. We finished our project with flying colors, and through it, I’ve gained invaluable technical communication and collaboration skills that I wouldn’t have been able to achieve on my own. I now also have made incredible friends I continue to learn with!

I would highly recommend programming with others as a beginner programmer because it is an excellent way to apply your newfound coding skills, improve your technical communication skills, and see a project through from start to end. If you’re looking for people to collaborate with, Chingu is a great place to start.

Huge thanks to Chance and Jim for building and running Chingu.

Photo by Undraw.co

Discussion (33)

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russ profile image
Russ

Thank you for sharing your experience! I think I might join Chingu myself :D. Have you heard about codebuddies.org/? Trying to find out more info on that one.

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Sophia Li Author

Awesome! I haven't checked out codebuddies yet, but I've seen that Code Newbies (twitter.com/CodeNewbies) is pretty active on Twitter.

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russ profile image
Russ

I'll look into them as well, thank you :)

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gauraws profile image
Gaurav Singh

Last time I checked Chingu has some pricing to use its platform. Can you suggest some open source group or project that I can join?

I am currently learning js.

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sophia_wyl profile image
Sophia Li Author

I'm not active in contributing to open source, so I don't have any resources off the top of my head. But searching for beginner friendly issues could be a great way to start.

Are there any coding meetups where you are based? I've met a couple folks I work with from meetups.

Hope this helps!

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gauraws profile image
Gaurav Singh

Thanks Sophia.
Your posts are always inspiring. I will check on the coding meetups

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Avery

Check out exercisism.io there's a great community that gives you feedback as you learn and submit your code

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Addam Rashidi

I'm glad that you have a great team to work with! Keep it up!

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Sophia Li Author

Thanks!

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Victor A. Barzana

Awesome what a great experience, I'm thinking to choose discord rather than slack to escape the pricing and have free multi user channels, bots and what not 🤔 what do you guys think?

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Sophia Li Author

I've used both Slack and Discord as part of various groups.

I've used Slack in more professional work environments and Discord in non-work settings where people of the internet kinda come together over a topic.

I personally like Slack's UI more than Discord. But Discord's advantage is that it's free (I think!).

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Victor A. Barzana

Thank you so much Sophia, yep, I have used Discord as well personally, but never thought about using it for business :D
Thank you and have a great day!

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Joan Nguyen

Thank you @sophia Li. A great article

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Mohamed Nossair

Thanks for sharing your experience

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Ibrahim Joseph M.

Thank you for sharing your experience! 2 and 5 is very key to me.

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Sophia Li Author

Thanks! Being part of a team where you are free to ask questions without judgement is crucial to success.

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john kennedy Onyemaechi

This is awesome...!!!

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Sophia Li Author

Thank you!

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Farai Mutongo • Edited on

Great way to improve your competencies and congrats on a splendid achievement. Would love to learn from you on a new project.

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Patrick Shema Karamuka

Great article, keep it up

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Max Ong Zong Bao

That's really awesome :)

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Sophia Li Author

Thanks! :)

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Zhiyue Yi

Great motivation!!

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Ryan Smith

Nice work, congrats! It sounds like a great way to gain practical experience and you seemed to get a lot out of it.

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Sophia Li Author

Thank you! It was indeed a great way to gain practical experience.

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Nishant Panwar

Really helpful.. keep up the good work 😃

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Sophia Li Author

Thank you, Nishant!

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Peter Cruckshank

Thanks that was a great rundown on your project 😎👍

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Jim Medlock

Thank you @sophia_wyl ! Great article and we are very glad you got a lot out of your Voyage! Great work on the part of you and your team.

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István Döbrentei

Wow, congratulation and thank you for sharing your experience. It is very impressive.

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Angela Whisnant

Very well written! Thanks so much for sharing your experience on Chingu. Just what I think so many of us beginners need.

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Fawad

Love the conciseness of the article, well written, delivers the message while not too heavy on mind. Best of luck in future.

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Sophia Li Author

Thanks so much for your specific feedback, Fawad! Wishing you the best as well.