Becoming a better, more confident developer with sports theme, plugin

Despite the fact that I’ve spent the past four years learning HTML, CSS, PHP and JavaScript, the past three years in serious WordPress development and the past two years as a developer at a company, I still haven’t felt very confident as a developer.

A lot of what I know comes from self teaching I did via various books and what not and I didn’t exactly learn the best standards of coding. I’m confident in the basics, but anything outside of that sends me to Google and usually a headache or two looking through other people’s code and trying to figure out how they got it to work.

But that’s finally starting to change and it’s thanks in large part to this Sports Bench plugin/theme combo I’ve been working on for about the past month or so.

The scope of this project is pretty large, but not overwhelming (well, or at least version 1.0 is that way.) But there are enough parts of it that are challenging enough, and that’s where I’m finally feeling like I’m understanding how to do everything.

The breakthrough movement really came with figuring out how to do infinite scrolling on the home page and the archive pages for the theme. I finally found a tutorial that didn’t require the use of a JavaScript framework and I studied that and after about a day or so and some messing around, I really figured out how it was working and what everything did. After finishing that, I applied that same principle with a live comments feature and got that to work without even using a tutorial.

And now my confidence on the PHP side is growing as well. I finished up the theme aspect of the project about two weeks ago. Since then, I’ve been working on the plugin side, which is the most complicated part. Plus, I’m working towards an object-oriented model for the first time. So far that has gone fairly smooth as well. I’ve created three classes — teams, players and games — and some basic functions. And this week I was able to get two fairly complicated admin pages set up: one page that displays the teams in a table similar to how posts are shown and a page that allows the user to add and edit team information.

There’s still a long way to go both with this project and my web development knowledge. The plugin aspect still has a lot to get finished before it’s even ready for a beta test. And I personally would like to learn more about developing with JavaScript frameworks since that seems to be direction web development is going these days.

But these small victories have been huge. I don’t really feel overwhelmed by much these days anymore and I feel like actually know what I’m doing. Hopefully that continues as I work towards finishing the admin area for the plugin and move into the fun, front-end parts of the project.

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