Do you know what’s rad? The internet. Do you know what else is rad? Learning new things. Do you know what is super rad? Learning how to code your own website!
A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be chosen to attend one of Django Girls’ teaching sessions, which involves a fun installation party, an intensive one day workshop and then a super fun afterparty. You’re taught the basics of Python, Django (used by Instagram, Pinterest and Disqus) HTML and CSS, and it’s all geared to helping you create your very own self-hosted blog. As a blogger who is always looking for more opportunities and new ways to blog, I jumped at the chance!
Django Girls is a not-for-profit, volunteer-ran community which helps ladies (and female-identifying individuals) to organise free day-long coding workshops and helps to provide all the necessary tools. They’ve taught in over 130 cities to over 4000 students and are always planning more, and with at least 39 more events this year, in locales all around the world. You can check here for an event near you here!
Prior to this workshop I had very little experience in coding. The most I’d ever done was nudging the HTML on my MySpace page templates to remove the pesky adverts. Thankfully, Django Girls are open to any and all with any experience level so I wasn’t on my own! I was grouped together with Daniela and Sophie, two lovely ladies who had a similar skill level to me. We hit it off talking about our shared love of dessert takeaways, blog, awkwardness at parties and technology- we became firm friends very quickly!
The event kicked off on the Friday night, with an installation party, where we met our tutors, the people in our groups and installed the necessary software. Unfortunately, the internet in the venue wasn’t fantastic, but given that there was 30+ people actively downloading things and using it, I wasn’t surprised. The organisers were prepared for this outcome and had multiple hubs AND the software on USB drives. Once we got everything downloaded (including Python 3.4.3, Django AND a Code Editor) we began dipping our toes into the Django Girls guide, which was hugely extensive. Thankfully, it’s written in plain English with little jargon, so it’s super easy to understand!
The workshop itself is very, VERY intensive. You work from 9.30AM through until 6.30PM with an hour break for food (which was graciously provided by The Street Food Chef– cheers!) and work your way through the guide that Django provide. It features the basics of Python, Django, HTML, CSS and all the information between the four involved in running and creating your own website.
It is SO incredibly satisfying actually seeing what you’re doing happen in front of you. You change a few lines of code in the editor, boot up the server, open your browser and BOOM! There’s your site, edited, created and put together by yours truly. As someone who mostly uses WordPress/Blogger/other platforms for blogging, it made such a difference to be able to see my own work change so much in front of me.
Another satisfying thing I found is that I was actually able to understand it. I was really worried that I’d arrive at the workshop and everything would fly over my head. However, thanks to our very attentive tutor and the fantastic guide, I was able to understand everything. It all made sense in my head and I thank my tutor, Georgina, and the fantastic Django girls guide. I found that the day simply wasn’t long enough to absorb everything that we learned, and I wasn’t able to complete it all- however, this may just have been my snail’s pace!
The day after the event my mind was BUZZING. As I sat on my sofa, playing video games, I couldn’t help but put things in the game in terms of the coding (things like conversation choices working on an if;else system); doing this really helped me to understand it even further. I have every intention of continuing in learning how to code as I think it’s an invaluable skill and I believe that as blogger/nerd/person of the internet I will definitely use it.
I absolutely LOVED the event and would love to attend again, or even help to arrange my own. Thank you Django Girls for teaching me something new and showing me just how rad coding can be!
Django Girls would not be able to run without the support of their sponsors, and for this Sheffield event, I had Affecto, TechNorth, Rocket, University of Sheffield, GW Devices, CZN Digital, Shed Code, TigerNash, and James Almond to thank. There was also the awesome venue Union St, who so graciously hosted us. Of course, Django Girls also runs off donations from the public to help become bigger and better, so please consider donating if you can!
Sadly I was too involved in learning to take many pictures of the event, so here’s a few the organisers took!