Lambda Labs Project: An after action report

This week is the final week for our labs portion at Lambda School. I’ve been attending Lambda since September of 2019 learning Full Stack Web Development. I’ve learnt Html, CSS, JavaScript, React.js, Node.js, computer science topics such as data structures & algorithms in python. Team work through our build projects. Leadership skills through working as Team Lead. I’ve had the pleasure of having zoom time with some of the best as far as talent, experience, and people from all over the U.S. and the world.

The best part about Lambda School is that they are always changing for the better. With that change comes new challenges and new challenges lead to opportunities to grow. When we embrace those changes we develop the skill of flexibility and adaptation towards those changes.

What is interesting about Labs section is everything we learnt through out the previous units comes together as we train how to do our jobs in a highly structured, real-world, career environment. The team work and professionalism is what really sets labs apart from the previous modules.

We are required to share on a weekly basis on how we contributed, showcase our experiences and demonstrate the team work and professionalism we are learning in our labs. This goes hand in hand with working well with others from different backgrounds and understanding people by empathizing with them and knowing that each person can be a valuable asset to the team. Most importantly is having the ability of taking new concepts and difficult ideas and learn them on our own while effectively describing the key topics, technical choices, and experiences in a way that demonstrates growth, personal development, and effective communication.

The Project: I worked with Express Groomer project where the customers can search and schedule pet grooming service. Express groomer connects groomers and clients. This allows for groomers to meet at the clients residence or allows the clients to meet at the groomers. Clients will have the ability to safely schedule an appointment and groomers can grow their business. We are attempting to implement Google Map API to better search and display the nearest groomers in the application. My concern is that I feel I am not contributing enough in this project.

I was able to use the Trello board to separate tasks into cards that were necessary to implement the specific features. For instance I wrote a card for pets router model and finalized the pets router.js file with the specific endpoints to those routes. The concerns I faced during the introduction to this product was am I going to provide meaningful contribution. This project is different then our build week projects where each one of us was responsible

Demonstrating Contribution: When it comes to contribution there are two ways to go about it. You are either programming a component or feature yourself, and or you are pair programming with another team member. It is possible that you can pair program with up to three developers each one taking turns in the driver navigator position of the pair programming session. There were a handful of times where I would get together with one developer to make sense of what the feature is trying to accomplish. Pair programming did help me understand my weak points and helped me learn from someone who was able to provide a different perspective.

Another important part of demonstrating your contribution is created pull requests for your project. Sometimes it easy to keep coding and coding then forget to create a pull request once a feature is completed. I had that happen with the home landing page that was created. I could have made a couple of pull requests. However, I lumped them all into one pull request.

Here is an image of a pull request for a model router in our back end.

Giving Feedback:

Whether you are working in the medical field, insurance, or software development giving feedback is part of working with a team. Each of us is constantly giving feedback to one another simply by the way we respond in conversation. Knowing how to go about giving feedback in a thoughtful, productive, and intentional way is more than a useful life skill, it’s a vital tool in any workplace environment. A good way of giving feedback on a code review is to acknowledge the persons efforts and explain to them how you would go about resolving it. “Tim, that is a great way of creating a function for your button”, “Have you considered doing this instead”. Then you provide the example on how you would create the function for Tim. This way the feedback is constructive and Tim can take value out of the feedback.

Receiving Feedback:

One way to grow as a developer is by receiving the proper feedback from your peers, project leads, and managers. There is no way around it. If you think giving feedback is challenging whats more of a challenge is receiving it. You know you labored all night to get the component to work, so watching someone critique your work can hurt the ego a bit. Its normal to think it is personal — but it doesn’t have to. You’ll be receiving feedback for as long as you find yourself in a workplace (from colleagues, managers, clients, etc.), so learning how to receive it gracefully will serve you throughout your career.

Here is a tip on how to receive feedback. Stop before you fall into your first reaction. Make sure you get a hold of yourself first and analyze why you are feeling that way. Remember the benefit of giving feedback applies the same to receiving feedback. My favorite quote from Stephen Covey “Seek first to understand before trying to be understood.” Here is a great article on that topic.

Planning a Project: There are many areas to go over when it comes to planning your project. The first and foremost is to understand the customers needs by asking who, what, when, where, why, and how. Understanding the data, expectations, and the customer is important in this phase.

User story is what enables the team to obtain the vital data and customer information to deliver quality application. Walking through and giving feedback to the customer will further help in reassuring the user story before conducting the architecture phase. Providing the architecture make up of the application will help solidify and guid the product team in delivering the best possible application for the customer.

During the creating of Groomer Express we as a team all asked ourselves the questions on how this project will impact us as an end user. Who, what, when, where, why, and how for each component that was created. This part was critical as it played an important roll in creating our Trello Cards on the Kanban board.

Userflows, Wireframing, and Design systems: There are several types of flow diagrams that are useful in designing software products — user flows, and wireframes. The lines between each of these have become blurry, and we’ve seen the term user flow used interchangeably with both task flows and flowcharts. Generally speaking, this class of diagrams are great for showing directional flow and/or decision-based logic.

Here is an image of the project flow after discussing the user story for Groomers Express.

Technical Architecture: Technical aspects of the project is the next phase after understanding the user story. The decisions to use a specific API, front end frame work, back end data base, AWS services, Okta secure sign it API etc, is where the crux of creating the application come into play. Creating the data model and end points along with creating API contracts is another part of the architecture features of the project.

Here is an image of the technical architecture for the Groomer express project:

Presenting your work: The final portion of Lambda labs to convey condense all eight weeks into one blog posting to demonstrate what I learnt during labs. I am not the greatest t writing blogs. However, I know I can use the practice and should continue to write blogs. Telling your story does more than just let future employers know who you are — it’s a record of what you’ve done, what you’ve learned, and can give a sense of the professional you’ve become. A well-crafted blog post can enhance your visibility and signal to hiring managers your professional journey, with all its challenges and victories.

Conclusion: In this blog we covered my journey through the Groomers Express project where I discussed the project, demonstrating contribution, giving and receiving feedback, planning the project, user flows, wireframes, and design systems, technical architecture, and the final presentation aspect of this blog. I hope you enjoyed a brief synopsis of my journey with the final labs project at Lambda School. Thanks again TEAM until next time.

-Robert Elias

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