Renate Kikkert Aspiring Frontend Developer

How I Learn Frontend

When I was first thinking about becoming a frontend programmer, I did not know how to approach it. I did not want to be in an official schooling environment anymore. Too expensive, too long and also not up to date enough. I heard some inspiring stories from people who learned programming on their own, and came up with the below learning path.


I've used the Treehouse learning adventure 'Become a Web Designer' as a guide to learn frontend programming. This online school was a good way to start for me, because they assume you have no knowledge at all about making websites. There is a good oversight of the steps you need to take, and a good following order. You watch instruction videos and make exersises. The coding exersises are made and checked in the browser.
I've worked on subjects like: basic making and launching of a website, HTML, CSS 2.1, CSS 3, Photoshop, JavaScript, Responsiveness, Ruby on Rails, working with the terminal, working with version control on GitHub.


RailsGirls is an international organization trying to get more girls into programming. The first time I ever tried out programming was at a RailsGirls event in Amsterdam. Since then I've been to a few follow-up meetings organized by RailsGirls NL. There are always volunteers to help with the coding, and it's very accessible and a lot of fun. It's been great to see how many girls are interested in learning how to code.


When I quit my job to seriously pursue becoming a frontender, I decided to subscribe as a member of Fronteers. It is the largest community of frontenders in the Netherlands, and the meetings and talks that are organised are a great source of information. Also, going to the meetings is a good way to meet fellow frontenders.

Talking to my Frog

> Renate: "This guy writes I should use tables to fix this..."
> Frog: "You know what my answer to that is."
> Renate: "No tables..."

Asking my Boyfriend

My boyfriend, Thijs Cadier, is a backend programmer and owner of an Amsterdam based web development company, 80beans, together with his business partner, Roy Tomeij. Through him I got familiar with web development and the 'programmers culture'. Looking over their shoulders I was inspired to get into programming, and the frontend side of it appealed to me the most. One day I hope to become half as good at it as Roy.


The first workshop I've attended was from RailsGirls. This workshop was designed to let people with no previous experience in programming build a Ruby on Rails app in one day. A great way to get a taste, and inspiring to learn more. Another workshop I attended was on working with Git and GitHub, by Peter Robinett of Bubble Foundry. A good start into working with version control. Furthermore, I attended a workshop "Guru Session: Programming for Beginners" by Matteo Manferdini at Appsterdam. A bit challenging still for me at that time, though I learned a lot. And as a last one, not actually a workshop but more of a try-out, a learning session with Roy Tomeij (80Beans) on frontend programming. We went through the basic steps from receiving your design to delivering a working and beautiful site. Really helpful for me, it was a confirmation that this is what I would like to be working on.


I did not use a great deal of books, I often rather just use Google and Stack Overflow to solve any issues I stumble upon. Also, I made good notes of all the lessons I did at Treehouse (see above), so for reference I often just read those. A classic which I found helpful, especially for deciding what NOT to put on the home page, is "Don't Make Me Think!" by Steve Krug. Also good reads are "Javascript: The Good Parts" by Douglas Crockford and "HTML & CSS: The Good Parts" by Ben Henick.