How To Learn To Code From the Free Content on YouTube, With Jessica Chan

How To Learn To Code From the Free Content on YouTube, With Jessica Chan

πŸŽ™ About the episode

Meet Jess Chan πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ! Jess's YouTube channel, Coder Coder, has almost 400,000 subscribers at the time of recording. She's a web developer turned educator, and when she's not teaching her subscribers JavaScript and CSS, she's working on her first course. This episode is about learning, YouTube, and learning on YouTube!

In this show, you'll learn how to evaluate a course and quickly decide if you can trust a YouTube tutorial. Jess and Alex talk about how YouTube evolved over the years and why it might be an underrated place to meet other developers. You'll hear about Jess's long and meandering road to coding and learn why it's okay if you don't become a full-time developer in just three months. Finally, Jess will reveal, once and for all, what's the best camera for YouTubers. Β 

πŸ”— Connect with Jess

⏰ Timestamps

  • On Coder Coder, and why Jess loves web development (and enjoys teaching it) (01:33)
  • Why you should remember what's it like to be a beginner at something before teaching it (03:33)
  • Can you teach problem-solving on YouTube? (04:55)
  • How Jess went from Pre-Med to photography to becoming a developer and, finally, an educator (06:24)
  • Why it's okay if you don't become a full-time developer in three months (07:51)
  • On becoming a developer in the era before bootcamps (09:33)
  • Can you judge the current state of the industry from YouTube comments? (12:41)
  • How would Jess approach cracking her first coding interview today? (13:22)
  • Why you should look for other people's job interview experiences on YouTube and how the YouTube landscape has changed over the years (14:33)
  • On Jess's YouTube content, the barrier to entry, and the democratization of educational content (16:51)
  • Should new developers make their own YouTube channels? Can you learn soft skills on YouTube? (19:20)
  • Hard skills vs. soft skills - what's more important when it comes to getting your first junior dev job? (21:04)
  • They say you should "be so good they can't ignore you." What does this mean? (22:51)
  • There are a lot of content creators on YouTube. How can you know who to trust? (24:51)
  • Jess's new course on responsive web design, and can you learn without a mentor (30:21)
  • Can you combine resources while learning? (33:25)
  • Quick-fire questions: mechanical keyboards, music for coding, best social networks for developers, and best cameras for YouTube

🧰 Resources mentioned

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πŸ’¬ Transcript

Jess Chan (00:00):
I think it's really important to, as you're consuming YouTube content, especially educational YouTube content, scrolling through the comments, checking out how people are responding to it. Because as anyone who makes YouTube content knows, people will call you out in the comments at the drop of a hat.

Alex Booker (00:17):
Hello, and welcome to be Scrimba podcast. On this weekly show, I speak with successful devs about their advice on learning to code and getting your first junior dev job. My name is Alex and today I'm joined by Jess Chan, otherwise known as Coder Coder on YouTube. Jess makes learning JavaScript and CSS fun for her almost 400,000 YouTube subscribers and as a career changer and self-taught developer herself, she has excellent advice on how to teach yourself web development and break into the industry. This is something you're going to learn all about today. It was fascinating to learn from Jess and her experience on YouTube. In particular, we spoke about trends on YouTube, not like 4:00 AM morning routine videos or Gangnam style, but more about how the development community on YouTube has grown and how it's an underrated place to meet other developers. And if you're not camera shy, maybe even put yourself out there for employers. Of course, there are some question marks around YouTube like, are the free courses and videos even any good? Maybe. We'll find out how to evaluate a course regardless of its sticker price in today's episode of the Scrimba podcast. Let's get into it.

Jess Chan (01:33):
I run the YouTube channel Coder Coder with my husband. I sort of handle the educational content creating and then my husband does all the video editing and some of the animations that you might see in the videos. I'm a self-taught web developer. I've worked in the advertising and marketing industries for about eight years. And then I just into the whole educational side of things. And in my own life, I felt web development sort of changed my life for the better and gave me a really great stable career. And so I wanted to do that for other people who also might be self-taught or are changing careers. And that was the whole motivation behind creating Coder Coder. So I feel very fortunate in getting to do what I do, which is to help people learn how to code and improve their own lives in that way.

Alex Booker (02:18):
Your videos are amazing, by the way. They are an inspiration to another YouTuber like me. I will be linking them high and proud in the show notes for people to check out. If I understood right, you left your job as a developer to focus full-time on teaching and YouTube. How's that going?

Jess Chan (02:32):
Yeah. So I think it was maybe about a year ago that I stopped doing any full-time or contract freelance work, and then just focused full-time on YouTube content creation. It's going well so far. I do feel a bit weird calling myself a full-time YouTuber just because I am not matching my developer income, at least at this moment. So we're in this maybe year period of trying to see if we can make it work. And I do feel like we can, but yeah, time will tell, but it's been a really great experience and I just love creating content and just feeling I get a direct connection to actual people to make an impact on them that I feel wasn't quite there when I was working for a company and building marketing landing pages and stuff. And there's nothing wrong with that, but I think I just enjoy the helping people aspect of this a lot.

Alex Booker (03:22):
Do you think that your experience in the industry helps you make even better content because you know how the real world works or how projects get built, what things you need to know? I suppose in contrast, there are some YouTube videos which are very much just super focused on the documentation. Right? It doesn't zoom out a little bit and say you're talking about building a project, they might not consider how do you structure this project and what considerations you need to make and things like that.

Jess Chan (03:48):
Yes, I do feel my time working in the industry has helped me be a better educator in maybe two different ways. I do remember what being a beginner was like. And when I first started, I had this notebook that I would write down every single little problem that I would get stuck on, and I would have to Google and look up things, sometimes for hours. And so I would keep this notebook to write down, how to position an element on the website so that it sticks up to the top or something like that, just so I wouldn't have to do my hours of researching again the next time I came up against it. So I do feel like I try to remember what it was like being a beginner. And so I do try to talk about problems that beginners might face when I'm doing my own coding. For example, I have some live coding videos on my channel where you can watch me build a website from scratch with HTML and CSS or SAAS. And I just talk through my whole thought process. I feel like those are skills that I picked up over the years of working. And so I try to explain things in a way so people understand the principle of why something's working or not working versus just type this thing into your VS code and it'll work.

Alex Booker (04:55):
One of the biggest challenges is learning how to think a programmer. Is that something that you had trouble with at all when you were going the self-taught roots compared to university?

Jess Chan (05:05):
Yeah, definitely. I think the problem solving aspect of programming is difficult to pick up for sure. And it's something that is, I think, hard to teach. I don't know if I would be able to make a tutorial on problem solving programming, just because I feel you have to bang your head against the wall and figure things out on your own and just figuring out the logic of things.

Alex Booker (05:28):
I'm not sure people would watch it, to be honest. That's the funny thing. It's so much more exciting to learn React or how to build an app or a clone or something. I've often thought that one of the best things for a new developer can do is learn how to learn or learn how to think a problem solver or a programmer, but consistently that type of content, it doesn't normally get watched and I'm not surprised.

Jess Chan (05:51):
I think it's hard to focus just on that and make it engaging for a viewer. So it's just something that I try to sprinkle in my other coding videos to hopefully express the logic behind different things.

Alex Booker (06:05):
There's no substitute for experience, right? You just have to keep trying, failing, getting back up, trying, failing. And over time you just build up this context and familiarity and confidence eventually. Were you always planning to be a developer at the beginning, Jessica? Or did stumble into it like many people do?

Jess Chan (06:24):
I did stumble into it. The funny thing is that in high school, this is back in the '90s. So I'm kind of dating myself here. But back in the '90s, I taught myself HTML and CSS in high school, just for fun, because I thought the internet was amazing and awesome, which it is, but I never thought about coding as a career option at that point for some reason. I'm not really sure why. When I went to school, I was actually originally pre-med, which only lasted for maybe one semester when I almost failed my intro chemistry class. And then I ended up majoring in photography, and I graduated with a degree in studio art photography. So it's been a long meandering path. I spent a lot of my 20s not really sure what I wanted to do.
I did a lot of temp office work just because I wasn't sure what direction I wanted my career to go. And I just sort of ended up one of these temp jobs. They taught me backend programming. So I started out learning SQL, doing some, I think it was programming and a little bit of CSS as well. And that random temp job opened my eyes to what was possible in terms of a career. And so I worked there for maybe two years, built up my skills until I felt like I had enough to apply to formal web developer jobs. And after that, I got a job at an advertising agency as a junior level developer. That was the beginning of my real web developer career. So I definitely had some twists and turns along the way.

Alex Booker (07:51):
Which I think is totally, totally normal. For one reason or another, the headlines and the popular tweets tend to be, "Oh, I got a job in three months." And I'm absolutely sure it's possible in some cases. A lot of people I think compare themselves to those headlines and tweets and things and wonder if they're maybe going too slow or maybe start to doubt themselves. And that can be a slippery slope, right? Because to be successful, you need to show up every day for a while. What would you say to someone who's concerned they're not learning on a straight and linear enough path?

Jess Chan (08:21):
The story's about becoming a full-time web developer from nothing in three to six months, they're really popular with good reason, because it's like you can achieve your dreams in three to six months. But I just never found that to be realistic at least from stories of people I've heard. I'm not saying it's not possible. I'm sure it is. But I think things like that are just really dependent on people's individual situations. Because if you have kids that you're taking care of or if you're working full time at another job, you're just not going to have the same amount of available time to spend learning this new very difficult skill of web development. And so I usually tell people one to two years is a bit more realistic ballpark in terms of going from complete beginner to maybe being more job ready. And obviously, that's going to vary if you maybe pick it up more quickly or if you have more time, they can spend every day learning.
But I think it's hard for people who are just starting out to not compare themselves to these amazing, inspiring success stories that they might see on Twitter or other places. Just try to focus on your own journey and not compare yourself to others. And I think that's true for anything, whether it's learning to code or being on YouTube or trying to grow a company so.

Alex Booker (09:33):
Do you remember how you used to think about it when you were learning? I guess it was a different time, right? You mentioned being in high school in the '90s and by the way, maybe coding jobs just weren't as prevalent, but yeah, do you remember how you thought about it during the time or were you lucky enough just to be living life, doing your thing and then one day you put your head up and you're like, "Oh, I'm a developer now."

Jess Chan (09:52):
I will say that. I think my journey is a bit different from people who are trying to get into coding now, just because this was before the whole coding bootcamp thing existed. And so I was lucky enough maybe as you said, there weren't as many developer jobs available as there seem to be now. But I think also maybe there weren't as many people trying to get into coding as it seems to be right now. And so I was able to land this junior dev job and I basically learned on the job. I think just being surrounded by people who are more experienced and super helpful to me as senior developers. I think I didn't necessarily have to worry about other people who might be learning how to code doing it faster than me, just because I was head down focused at my job and just trying to do all my work tasks for the day.

Alex Booker (10:38):
Coming up on the Scrimba podcast, Jess is working on a new course.

Jess Chan (10:43):
If you're trying to teach yourself coding and you aren't surrounded by senior developers who can help you, you're kind of lost.

Alex Booker (10:50):
But first, Jan the producer and I have a quick favor to ask you.

Jan Arsenovic (10:54):
Hello, Jan the producer here. I'm here to remind you that the best way to support a podcast you like is to share it with someone. So if you're enjoying this episode and if you're finding it interesting or useful, we would really appreciate if you posted about it on social media or in your Discord community or shared it with a friend. This is a weekly podcast. We haven't missed a Tuesday since the spring of 2021, which means two things. One, if you're just getting introduced to the Scrimba podcast, you actually have a really big backlog to listen to. And two, if you subscribe to it, you can make sure you don't miss the next episodes. One week, we bring you interviews with industry experts, and another, we're talking to recently hired juniors. So you can learn from both sides. Next week, Silvia will tell us her story of career change and becoming a junior developer.

Silvia Piovesan (11:45):
I did find my previous experience very use useful, not as much maybe when I was studying, but for sure when interviewing and afterwards, when I started working. I always try to encourage and support people that are career changers like me. I also was at a point when I thought, "Okay, maybe my previous experience is not so relevant and maybe I should just remove it from my CV." But this is not a good idea.

Jan Arsenovic (12:20):
That's next week right here on the Scrimba podcast. And now, we're back to the interview with Jess.

Alex Booker (12:28):
Do you get some sense from your YouTube comments and people of whom you engage on your Instagram page about what the current state of the industry is with regards to new developers trying to find entry level roles?

Jess Chan (12:41):
I'm not sure if I completely have a pulse on what's going on, but it does seem like it's very difficult to get through the interview process with the technical interviews. And again, I feel very lucky I got into the industry before this point, but it seems if you're looking for a developer job now, you really have to study algorithms and interview questions and get the cracking the coding interview book and do leak code problem sets and stuff like that. And just seems like there's a big barrier for even applying and getting through those, but getting stages of getting a job. So that seems a bit different nowadays than it was when I was just starting out.

Alex Booker (13:22):
If you were in that position today, I think it would be quite daunting and intimidating to be honest, but equally, if you're determined enough, there has to be a path forward like where there's a will, there's a way. How do you think you would approach of cracking that coding interview process these days, if you were to start over sort of thing in 2022?

Jess Chan (13:38):
That's a great question. I would definitely have to get that book just based on friends who are software engineers, who've gone through the process and I've heard their experiences about it. That seems to be a pretty first step prerequisite. So I'd have to study that. I would probably get better at doing problems on leak code or other places. And I would probably do a lot of research. I do feel like there's YouTube videos, where people who are already in the field, they talk about their own interview process and how they found a job. And so YouTube has such a great wealth of information if you're trying to learn how to do anything. And I think you can apply that to applying for developer jobs and just hearing about other people's experiences, doing that thing that you want to do and seeing what path worked for them and trying to do that in your own life. So yeah, it would be hard though. I definitely don't envy people who are having to get into the field now. It just seems a very difficult process.

Alex Booker (14:33):
If I need to do anything, I will go on YouTube and search it. Whether it's searing a steak, changing a tire, learning arrow functions in JavaScript. Wherever it might be, there's a YouTube video for it. When it comes to interviews and things, I think it's enormously helpful to know what to expect. It's funny how YouTube has changed over the years, hasn't it? Because I remember six, seven years ago when I was gearing up for my first developer job interview, there was some videos like Day in the life of an Accountant, something like that. And I thought, "Oh, well, if there's a day in the life of a developer." And another category of videos like that was how I got my first job. And I think I saw one or two, which was about another field, how I got into sports or something. And I was like, "Oh, has someone done this for development?"
And the truth is back then it was so niche. I genuinely searched this and there was two videos and one person was just in his back garden with probably an iPhone six at the time, just recording a portrait video and talking about how he got a job. And he was like, "Yeah, I went there. They asked me this, that, the other." It wasn't that engaging, but yeah, what do you reckon in the last, I would say five, six years, the whole development YouTube thing has just blown up completely, hasn't it?

Jess Chan (15:36):
Oh yeah. My channel's been around since 2017, I think. So that's about five years. And even before then, I would hang out on YouTube and look at coding videos and stuff. And it's changed a lot. I think there's just been so many more people getting into YouTube. There's more developers creating developer channels, just talking about different topics, whether they're coding tutorials like what I do or talking about the industry and the career. Just talking about programming trends in general. And there's just so many more content creators, because I think more and more people nowadays are realizing you actually can make a job out of making YouTube videos. It's not easy obviously, but it seems like there's a lot more people trying to do that nowadays.
I do feel like there has been a little bit of a ... maybe there's more competition. So I think that people feel more of a drive to have really well polished and well edited videos versus like you were saying before, just some dude in his yard talking into his iPhone. Now, everyone's having these big cameras and lighting and animations. So I do feel a little guilty maybe of being a part of that, where I'm maybe making other YouTube channels feel like they need to up their game in order to stay competitive.

Alex Booker (16:51):
Well, the thing I like about your videos a lot actually is that if you go back 10, 15, 20 plus years ago, and you imagine TV shows. In the UK growing up, we had shows which were about how things get made or how certain processes happen in biology and things. And that's incredibly broad interest. Every kid needs to learn about those things, adults find it interesting as well. They obviously invested in that production quality to make those videos and broadcast them. And of course, they needed such a high threshold to entry to do something like that and get on television. But the absolute incredible thing about YouTube is that it completely democratizes that for everybody. With some fairly inexpensive gear and free software, you can get very, very far in that respect.
But when it comes to coding topics, it's still pretty bloody niche in the scheme of things. And the fact that your videos feel like they remind me of those educational high production quality videos. And I think it's just really nice to see. I'm really happy that the development community on YouTube has grown in such a way that there are creators like yourself who have an audience. You can reach an audience on that platform.

Jess Chan (17:51):
Thank you. It's very kind of you to say. I really love how YouTube has made it possible in democratizing the ability to create content and reach people and not having to, I don't know, sign a contract with a network to have a show. And it's so different now. And it's really cool seeing the level of production quality on YouTube, not just in developer niches, but obviously across the whole website. It's really cool seeing that any individual can reach an audience. I will say that despite the high level of production quality that does go into my videos, I do think that people come back not just for the animations, but because I try to have good educational content, I try to explain things well. And I think that does show in the views on my videos.
So I did an office tour video maybe several months ago. And I think that single video had the most time spent on the special effects and animation type things. And that video didn't get viewed very much, which I totally understand. But I think it's because the educational content is really what gives value to people. So I think if you are running a YouTube channel and you feel maybe you're afraid of not matching up to other people because you don't have fancy equipment or whatever, I think just try to focus on what audience you want to serve and making sure that the content you're creating and the information you're conveying is really giving value to those people and helping them in some way. I think it's possible to do it without having super fancy production quality too.

Alex Booker (19:20):
Do you think that new web developers should consider making their own YouTube channel and recording videos about coding and stuff? Do you think you can help them learn and advance their career in any way? Or maybe they should just focus on getting good at coding a different way?

Jess Chan (19:33):
I definitely think that, especially in this day and age, creating content as a developer can really help your career. And maybe that's one thing I should have mentioned when you asked me earlier what I would do if I had to get a developer job now. But I think that it's so hard to find a job. And it seems so competitive that if you do create content, whether on YouTube or Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok even, it can really help with a networking aspect of finding people who might be hiring and letting people who work at companies create a connection to you. And it's a great way to show off your own skills if you are running a YouTube, like an educational coding channel. I wouldn't say every developer should create a YouTube channel, but if you feel like you enjoy either talking about tech or explaining programming concepts to people, then you might enjoy being a content creator. And it is something that I do believe very strongly it can help your career.

Alex Booker (20:30):
You can also make coding buddies in the process as well, because if you happen to find someone who's also interested in YouTube and growing a channel, say maybe you'll grow together and do a cross collaboration or something. With new developers, oftentimes you get advice like you should network, you should try and make friends. It's good advice honestly, but how to do that specifically can be quite challenging. One thing I always recommend is instead of thinking about it, making friends, think about it like finding collaborators, because that's what you really want to do is collaborate on an open source project or collaborate on a YouTube video or a cross promotion. That helps a lot.
I also think that there is an element of when you're presenting and when you're teaching, you are in a sense practicing your practical skills or sometimes called soft skills. I actually remember Jess, in one of your videos, you said that this is the one where you talk about how you got your job as a developer. You said that you impressed your boss with listening skills, note taking and willingness to learn. It got me wondering what percentage of coding and success as a coder is to do with your coding skills and what percentage is to do with your ability to collaborate on a team and be willing to learn and demonstrate your potential and that kind of thing. If you had to give a percentage split, how would it go in your head?

Jess Chan (21:43):
I would say almost maybe 50% of success as a developer is due to soft skills and being able to work on a team, being someone good to work with, being able to accept constructive feedback, things like that. I've worked with a lot of developers and other professionals in the industry. And I don't know if I ever ran across a developer who had just bad programming skills, maybe one or two. But the majority of them, the skills is kind like, even if you don't know something, you can either Google to look it up or you can ask someone who's more experienced to help you with that. So I feel the limiting factor in people's careers, obviously after you've reached a certain level of skill in web development and programming, limiting factors are going to be how you work with people and how you meet deadlines or not meet deadlines, just because when you're working in a company, your team is all working together. And the goal is just to get the product or whatever you're working on out as soon as possible or to meet the deadline. And so it matters a lot being able to work with other people on that. So definitely very highly ranked in terms of importance, I think.

Alex Booker (22:51):
There is sometimes this advice that floats around like be so good they can't ignore you. What do you make of that?

Jess Chan (22:56):
I agree with that. Yeah. I think that definitely applies to being a web developer. Maybe to touch a little bit on the earlier topic. I think there's a big emphasis on learning X, Y, or Z framework or new skill or whatever that's coming out at the moment. It's important to stay up to date, but I feel being really good at the communication skills, things like explaining technical topics to people on your team who aren't developers or to clients who don't understand what your coding I think is so important. And I genuinely feel if you're so good at that, maybe more than other people are, or maybe more than the average, then, yeah, they won't be able to ignore you. And I do think that will help you in your career. And I think it helped me in my career because I do feel like I tried really hard to be a good team player and to be able to talk about programming concepts to people in a way that I'm not talking down to them or things like that. I think there's a lot of things that go into having a successful career and just being a good employee and a good coworker.

Alex Booker (24:01):
I really appreciate your interpretation of that quote, because I think that some people interpret that as being like, "I'm going to be so good at JavaScript. All the other skills don't matter."

Jess Chan (24:11):
I guess that's one thing that I wish was talked about more, maybe on dev Twitter or even on YouTube. And again, I think these topics that are more amorphous or soft skill related are hard to discuss, because in some ways it's easier to make a coding tutorial on the hard skills of programming and web development and CSS and stuff like that. But I think it takes a different level of maybe experience and knowledge to be able to explain to other people what really goes into being a good web developer on a team, not just knowing JavaScript, but being able to communicate with your team well. So maybe that's something that I'd like to focus on a little bit more than in the past on my YouTube channel.

Alex Booker (24:51):
Going back to the YouTube thing, you said that on YouTube there's a lot more content creators. Do new developers need to be cautious about what videos they engage with and use to build their worldview as a developer? One thing that floats around from time to time is ... and actually, go figure, this is often said by companies, of course, is to sell. They say, don't learn on YouTube. Don't watch the free stuff. It's not good. We both know, Jess, that that isn't always true. That's definitely not always true.

Jess Chan (25:18):
Yeah. I would say I strongly disagree with the idea that you should not learn from the free YouTube content, but I do think that it does touch on an issue that can be a genuine issue and maybe a problem and that's quality control, because for you, you're working at a company and for maybe developer advocates creating tutorials on their company's products, I'd imagine there's probably a few stages of people checking their work and looking at their code and making sure it's all up to snuff. But if you're just an individual YouTube creator, you can make videos on whatever. And the accuracy of the information you're talking about is completely dependent on how much homework you've done. And that's actually something that I'm terrified as I make my course that I'm teaching something wrong. So because of that, I do a lot of research. I've been reading a lot of the Mozilla developer network documentation because I talk a lot about CSS stuff, and I've even delved into some of the CSS working group, the specs for CSS, just because I want to make sure I'm explaining something that's accurate and also makes sense to people.

Alex Booker (26:31):
I think there's two parts to it. The first is maybe a statement about something which isn't fully considered. You might say oh this property behaves in this way and you might go on believing that, and then that not being true. It's a bit confusing at least. And maybe at worst, you end up embarrassing yourself when you pass that information on as gospel to someone else. I suppose what you're touching on is that somebody could make a free YouTube video. They could apply all the good judgment and research needed to make it perfect, just because it's free, doesn't mean that isn't true, but also if you're paying for a course, well, that should be true. This is the weird thing. I'm sure there are paid courses out there on Udemy, but this isn't true about. So what I'm learning is that the fact that you pay for it doesn't make a difference. That's got nothing to do with it. You probably have to judge each resource based on the creator's individual merits and track record and look at the comments and things like that.
I guess another thing is teaching bad practices. I wonder what you think about that, because when a new developer's learning, sometimes they'll get advice like, "Oh, careful not to pick up any bad habits or, oh, don't do that, because you'll pick up bad habits and then an employer might not hire you because they'll be worried they can't train out of you." I can't really list that many or even think of any bad habits that are so egregious, but they would terribly affect your prospects as an employee.

Jess Chan (27:44):
I think we're all learning whether you are trying to get into the industry or you've worked as a developer for years, things are always changing and I'm pretty sure that I had bad habits that I had to unlearn as I went along. It's like I was late to learning Flexbox because I was very comfortable building layouts using floats, which is something that nowadays would be very frowned upon just because we have these amazing tools like Flexbox and CSS grid. But yeah, I think it's not something that people should worry too much about just because as long as you keep an open mindset and you realize that you're going to be learning and relearning things and changing the way things are done as you continue in your career, I think it's okay to make mistakes. It's okay to learn bad habits as long as you are able to unlearn them and change in the future.

Alex Booker (28:34):
I kind think of many examples as I said, but the one you picked about float is a perfect one and it makes me think of using tables and stuff as well. The funny thing about YouTube and these search algorithms is that they surface what they think you want to see if something's been around for a while and it's been popular, it might reach the front of the search results on YouTube or Google. And because it's at the front of the search results, it stays there. What I'm getting at is as a new developer, you could easily search for something, click the first result. It could be six years old and you spend ages learning floats or tables only to realize that it's quite vastly outdated. So you should always double check for dates that something was published. Maybe biasing towards recency is a good thing because most CSS specs and things, they say the same for the most part, but with frameworks, especially there might be updates and breaking changes.
And one thing I always do, as I mentioned, when I'm YouTubing about steak or tires or higher functions is I always just flick through the comments to ... this is why I didn't like why YouTube removed the dislike bar, because sometimes I will just glance at a dislike bar and if it has 500 dislikes, I'm like, "Yeah, probably this is going to be a really chewy steak. This is not the right video to watch." But nowadays, I think just flicking through the comments is a good idea.

Jess Chan (29:44):
It's very unfortunate that YouTube removed dislike button. I mean, I can understand they have their own reasons and motivations, but yeah, I think it's really important to, as you're consuming YouTube content, especially educational YouTube content, whether it's coding or cooking a steak, like you said, scrolling through the comments, checking out how people are responding to it. Because as anyone who makes YouTube content knows, people will call you out in the comments at the drop of a hat.

Alex Booker (30:12):
Oh yeah.

Jess Chan (30:12):
It's a good learning experience, I think. Just as a viewer, just being smart about the content that you watch and what you choose to believe.

Alex Booker (30:21):
You mentioned you're working on a course about responsive web design and I happen to know you've been working on it for quite some time. I can only assume that well, I mean, you want to make it right and you want to make it as good as you can. I'm not surprised at all. I think when your YouTube videos that are free are so high quality, that definitely sets a bar for the quality of this. So let me just say right off the bat, we can link to the ... I guess it's an email form where people can sign up for updates. But one question I'm really curious to ask you, Jess, is you teach a variety of subjects on your YouTube channel, and I'm curious, why responsive web design? What was it about that subject that made you feel this is something you want to go in depth about and teach to new developers?

Jess Chan (31:00):
One thing is that it felt like teaching people how to build a front end website from a design from scratch seemed to be something that was in demand from my audience. So back before I'd thought of this course, when I was making videos, I noticed that a lot of people really enjoyed watching my live coding videos, where I would take a design from, where they have lots of different designs for websites that you can build yourself and put in your portfolio, which I think is helpful for people trying to break into the industry. But I would make these really long live coding videos, building them. And I would show people all the mistakes I make as I go on and explaining why things are working the way they do. And they just got such a great response from people watching them, that it made me realize that if you're trying to teach yourself coding and you aren't surrounded by senior developers who can help you, then you're lost and you have to teach yourself.
And so it seemed like having me who I've had a lot of experience building websites from designs, because that's basically what I did at my job the entire time. These are really helpful thought processes. And just showing people all the little nitty gritty things that you might not see in every single coding tutorial. And I felt I could put that into a video and then into a course, and it would really help people who are beginners, who are trying to maybe get their portfolio set up so they can apply to jobs. And so I felt like at least on my channel, that was the feedback that I was getting in terms of the content people were really looking for. And so my course is meant to meet that demand that I was noticing.

Alex Booker (32:38):
I really like that. You're actually listening to your existing audience and addressing what they need, not just what you think they want.

Jess Chan (32:44):
When I was starting out, I had a really supportive boss and senior devs around me. And so in some ways I'm hoping that this course can be a proxy like that, where people can see how I build things and how I explain things and hopefully learn from me in almost maybe a mentor type of role, even though it's not a one-on-one thing, obviously. So yeah, I just feel I can help the most number of people through a course like this.

Alex Booker (33:09):
Sounds amazing. My only regret is that it's not Scrimba course.

Jess Chan (33:14):
Maybe for the next course. We'll see. I think y'all are doing such a great job at Scrimba with the video tutorial, with the live coding accompaniment to that on the platform. I think it's really, really cool.

Alex Booker (33:25):
If you are learning to code, you should use the resources that work best for you no matter what. And as much as we hope that we will support and offer you what you need for something like the career path, a lot of us on the team are self taught developers ourselves. And we relate completely to this idea that sometimes the best way to learn something is by amalgamating different resources. You just chip away, chip away, watch a YouTube video here, listen to a podcast there, watch a Scrimba video, watch a YouTube video by Jess, watch a course and then eventually like, "Ah, that's it like. Now, I understand it." But it wasn't just but you found the perfect resource, is that you were chipping away at it and eventually there was the straw that broke the camel's back. Not the best use of that phrase, but it's the final thing that made it click. And so I think that's a great idea.

Jess Chan (34:11):
Yeah, for sure.

Alex Booker (34:12):
All right. Jess, what do you reckon? So wrap things up. Could I throw you some quick fire questions?

Jess Chan (34:17):

Alex Booker (34:20):
What is your favorite mechanical keyboard switch?

Jess Chan (34:24):
I would say right now cherry MX reds.

Alex Booker (34:27):
Nice. They're not quite so clicky, but they feel good, right?

Jess Chan (34:30):
Yeah. Yeah. I started with a super clicky blues. They were fun, but I really like the smooth feel of the more linear switches.

Alex Booker (34:37):
Does having a mechanical keyboard make you a better developer?

Jess Chan (34:41):
I don't know if that makes me better, but it makes the typing process much more fun and enjoyable. So maybe yes.

Alex Booker (34:48):
Yeah. Too right. When you're buying a mattress, they tell you, you spend half your life sleeping, invest in this. And then when you're coding, you spend half your time plus on the keyboard. So invest in it. So what's your favorite keyboard right now?

Jess Chan (34:58):
So I have a keyboard from this brand name Vissles. They make budget mechanical keyboards, which they're actually really high quality. I'm not a huge keyboard gear head, I would say. So I haven't tried all different kinds of keyboards and switches to find what's the one perfect one for me. I just use it as they come in. But I also used a Ducky in the past. That was the one with blue switches. But yeah, I think whatever works. Yeah.

Alex Booker (35:23):
What, in your opinion, is the best camera for YouTube?

Jess Chan (35:28):
I would actually say the camera that you have.

Alex Booker (35:31):
Yes. I was hoping you'd say that. That's such a good answer. I could hear your cog spinning as well because I'm sure you've got a beefy camera, but it's not the one to start with necessarily, is it?

Jess Chan (35:41):
Yeah. And also as a photography person, I think there's just so much emphasis on gear versus the photographer behind the camera. It's really about your eye. I think it's the same principle here.

Alex Booker (35:52):
There's a quote I like, which is that gear is the ultimate procrastination or another one is all the gear, no idea. Something like that.

Jess Chan (35:59):
Yeah. So true.

Alex Booker (36:00):
You are on Instagram, which I think is quite unique actually. I know there's a lot of developers on Instagram, but not nearly as many as say tag Twitter. You're also on YouTube and you're on Twitter. What is your favorite social network for developers?

Jess Chan (36:12):
Gosh, that's hard to say. Instagram, it seems like most of the developer people there are in the setup shots, which is what I have the majority of my photos. But it seems like there's like reels is the big thing now. To be completely honest, I haven't made Instagram content in a while, but I like Instagram. I know a lot of people are getting into TikTok too. I don't really do TikTok. I think Twitter is also a good place to interact with and learn from other people who are in the industry.

Alex Booker (36:40):
If I understood you're right, your answer to what is your favorite social network is all of them.

Jess Chan (36:44):
Yeah. I guess they all serve different functions.

Alex Booker (36:46):
Jess, what do you prefer, tea or coffee?

Jess Chan (36:48):
Tea all the way. I drink tea constantly.

Alex Booker (36:50):
You're not a fan of a shot of caffeine in the morning say?

Jess Chan (36:53):
I do black tea in the morning. So right now I'm drinking a Scottish breakfast tea that I splurged on.

Alex Booker (36:58):
Oh lovely.

Jess Chan (36:59):
It's a nice brand. I will have coffee occasionally, but usually iced coffee, but I don't like hot coffee.

Alex Booker (37:05):
And finally, what kind of music do you listen to when you're coding or scripting?

Jess Chan (37:09):
It has to be no vocals. So I listen to a lot of ambient mixes on YouTube and sometimes jazz, but it depends on the mood that I'm in. Sometimes just ambient coffee house noises. If I feel like I'm getting cabin fever, working at home all the time.

Alex Booker (37:25):
See that's what we mean, what isn't on YouTube these days? You can plug yourself into a coffee shop. You can listen to a Japanese water hammer go off for six hours. Whatever floats your boat really.

Jess Chan (37:36):
Yeah. It's incredible.

Alex Booker (37:38):
Jessica, thank you so much for joining me on the Scrimba podcast. It's been a pleasure.

Jess Chan (37:42):
Yeah. Thanks so much, Alex. It's been really fun.

Jan Arsenovic (37:46):
That was Jessica Chan, a web developer YouTuber and educator. Check out the links in the show notes for her YouTube channel and an upcoming course on responsive web design. Thank you for listening. And if you made it this far, please consider subscribing or maybe even leaving us a rating or a review on iTunes or Spotify. This is a podcast where we interview both industry experts like Jessica and recently hired juniors like Silvia, who we are talking to next Tuesday. The show is hosted by Alex Booker, who you can tweet at - yes, he does respond to all of it, and his Twitter handle is in the show notes - and produced by me, Jan Arsenovic. We will see you next week.