web dev toolbox: week 1

Earlier this summer, I started compiling a folder of online web development tools in my Internet Browser for future reference. This list of “Web Dev Tools” has grown by about 50 percent after my first week at HackerYou!

With the constant exchange of information that takes place in the Lab, I seem to come across at least two or three new helpful sites, web apps, or plugins everyday. Here are some of my favourite tools that were passed along to me last week:



Not sure if a CSS property you’re using requires a vendor prefix? Simply search for the property on “Can I Use”, and it will generate an easy-to-read graphic that tells you 1) which browsers support or don’t support that property; 2) which versions of a particular browser support or don’t support that property; and 3) if that property is supported by mobile Internet browsers.

CSS Font Stack


Designed for the visually-oriented, CSS Font Stack neatly delineates the web safe fonts you can list as defaults or fall-backs in your stylesheet. It definitely challenged my assumption that web safe font stacks were too limiting.

Placeholder Image Generators
(People’s Choice: PlaceCage)


It’s safe to say that PlaceCage is the unofficial favourite of my HackerYou cohort, and the results were as hilarious as they were terrifying. Some honourable mentions: Bacon Mockup, Fill Murray, and the always SFW option, placehold.it.

Blooper Reel: Animating a navigation bar using jQuery

It’s often said that we can learn from our mistakes, so I thought it would be helpful to track some of my trials and errors as a web developer—both for future reference and for laughs. In the first of many “Blooper Reels” I hope to share with you, I’ll go through the steps I took to make a simple animated navigation bar using jQuery. 

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Making a HackerYou-turn

This week, I took my first official steps to becoming a professional web developer. My journey begins with HackerYou. I was accepted into their immersive front-end web development bootcamp back in July, and the decision to enrol in the nine-week course came at the cost of my place in a graduate program at York University. While it was not a decision I made lightly, it was one I made with more confidence than any other since graduating from university in 2013.

I got my first taste of web design when I was about ten years old. My mother was just starting her career as a web designer in Toronto after completing a post-graduate Applied Information Technology program. She eventually shared some of her knowledge with me, and after grasping the basics, I gained the confidence to experiment on my own. Since then, I’ve taught myself most of what I know about multimedia design and production.

While I went through high school with the intention of becoming a web designer, there was a part of me that really wanted an interdisciplinary university education that combined my aptitude in visual communication with my burgeoning social consciousness. Four years later, I earned a Honors Double Major in Media & the Public Interest (MPI) and Political Science from Western University.

Throughout my undergraduate studies, I actively pursued opportunities to use my technical skills in ways that facilitated the interests and goals of nonprofit organizations. I cannot overestimate the extent to which my greatest contributions as a volunteer or an intern were indebted to my ability to create things for the web. When post-grad realities forced me to reevaluate my goals and priorities, I took this enduring appetite for multimedia and design as a sign of what I should be doing for a living.

The next step was to decide how and where to gain the qualifications needed to achieve my new career plans. Unsatisfied with the post-graduate courses offered at nearby colleges (which seemed to be lagging behind industry standards), I looked for alternative forms of training to kickstart my web dev adventure.

So, why HackerYou?

One of the selling points that drew me to HackerYou was its commitment to fostering a stimulating and supportive atmosphere that embraces the collaborative nature of the web development community. Its instructors also seemed to have more freedom to adapt to the current practices and trends of an industry that is constantly evolving, since they were not beholden to a predetermined curriculum. HackerYou also got bonus points from me for not issuing grades to evaluate students’ work; As someone who is prone to setting excessively high standards for herself, I was definitely looking forward to being in an educational environment where I could learn without worrying about my GPA.

As I spent the summer preparing for the bootcamp, I realized how much had changed in web development since I started dabbling in HTML. What ever happened to my old friends <b>, <i>, and <u>? It is a little daunting to find oneself back at square one; I certainly have a great deal to learn in nine weeks if I want to get the most out of this experience. But this unexpected u-turn holds the prospect of new beginnings, and I’m glad to be in the company of creative, friendly, and determined peers at HackerYou.