Web Development Curriculum

What is Programming?

Programming is communication. It's also a lot of other things, but this curriculum will focus on the different ways you communicate with your code.

When you write code you are really just writing a text document, exactly like you might write an email or a note. The biggest difference between an email and a computer program is who you are writing for.

When you write an email you're writing for the person who will be reading it. When you write a computer program you are writing for 3 very different audiences at the same time! One single document (your code) needs to be understandable to:

  • Developers: A developer needs to read your code and understand what you were trying to do and why.
  • Computers: Your code needs to have perfect syntax so the computer can parse it, and you must write instructions that are allowed by the programming language or the computer will throw an error.
  • Users: The instructions you give to the computer must create an intuitive and pleasant experience for the user.

Being a developer means understanding how all these characters interact, then communicating with everyone involved to deliver quality software within your project's constraints. This diagram shows the different channels of communication in a software project:

rhetorical situation

Layers of Skills

Learn more about the curriculum modules in the Class Repo Template (opens in a new tab)

Software Development is a many layered skill. One way to break it down is to think of these layers:

  1. Planning and Collaborating: Breaking down large problems into tasks that can be shared
    • This is introduced in the Workflows and Agile Develompent modules, and practiced in every other module

  2. Source Code: The basic literacy of programming
    • Learning the key words (vocabulary) and syntax (grammar) for your programming language
    • Being able to read your code out loud, tracing it's execution as a computer would
    • Understanding what the developer wanted to say with their code
    • Welcome to JS will focus on these skills_

  3. Machine Instructions: The basic mechanics of programming
    • Understanding the life-cycle of your program
    • Understand how the computer will interpret your source code to create a running program
    • Understand what about your code matters to the computer, and what matters to people
    • Fixing syntax errors that occur when you try to run your code
    • Predicting which lines of code will be executed in which order
    • Predicting how each line of code will change what is stored in program memory
    • Reading error messages & callstacks to fix fix semantic errors that occur when you run your code
    • Inside JS and Asynchronous Programming will focus on these skills_

  4. Problem Solving & Algorithms: Breaking down large problems to be solved in small steps
    • Understanding a coding challenge and being able to break it down in different ways
    • Determining which solution strategies are correct for which types of problems
    • Understanding how test cases are used to describe your solution strategy
    • Identifying the best language feature to use with your strategy
    • Reading test cases to understand how code is supposed to behave
    • Using Test Cases to structure your solution design process (Test Driven Development)
    • Identifying and isolating mistakes in your code by reading failing test cases
    • Demonstrating your code does what you think it does by passing test cases
    • Behavior, Strategy, Implementation Module will focus on these skills

  5. Software Design: Organizing smaller pieces of code into full software solutions
    • Every module starting with Separation of Concerns will focus on these skills

  6. Context: Who uses a program, what is it's impact, and where did it come from?
    • Real people will use your software, is it accessible to them?
    • Your software exists in a society, what it's impact on others?
    • Someone planned and build your software, what were their motivations?
    • UX/UI Design and the Final Project Module will focus on these skills

The Curriculum: a Spider Web

It's helpful to imagine the DeNepo curriculum as a spider web with two types of thread:

  • Skills: The lines going out from the center represent the skills you will practice each and every week.
  • Technologies: The circles going out from the center represent the languages and technologies you will learn in each module.

The Workflows modules starts in the center of this spider's web. You will already be practicing all of the skills but with projects that use only Markdown. Because Markdown is small and simple you will be free to focus on more important things like communication and code review.

After you have practiced working on full group projects written in markdown, you will expand to the second circle with the Agile Development module. This is when you learn how to collaboratively plan and develop web pages written with HTML and CSS. You will continue practicing all of the skills you learned in Workflows, only now the programming languages will be more complex.

... and so on, forever! DeNepo is just the beginning. Your web will continue to grow after you finish studying this curriculum, you practice the skills in your web and add rings of new languages and technologies.

curriculum spider web

Using the Curriculum

One way to use the De Nepo web development curriculum is to set up your own Class Repository using the Class Repo Template (opens in a new tab).

This is how we ran our courses for several years. It's a light-weight solution for sharing the learning path, managing assignments, class calendar, questions, and code review.