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Github Portfolios - Yay Or Nay?

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How do you guys feel about using GitHub as a portfolio? I read that it's a great idea to set up a GitHub and put your best projects on it (assuming you don't mind them being open source and that you have a legal right to put them on GitHub) but that's just one opinion. What do you guys think? And what are some alternative portfolio options?

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To get my first breakthrough into the web dev industry, I create a one-page HTML page for my portfolio. I had it on a domain that I had up at the time, even though the domain itself was for something completely unrelated to my portfolio.

I then put an Apache user name and password on the page so that only people who I wanted to provide access to could see it.

 

For the portfolio itself, I provide a screenshot for each project / code snippet (there were 7-8, I think; some really short and simple just to illustrate one skill that I wanted to show off), and the screenshot linked to the actual site/demo.

Below that, I put a link to a .ZIP file with all the code in it, and then below that, I put a bulleted list of the main points I wanted to emphasize for the portfolio piece.

 

GitHub is of course an option, but I feel like going the extra mile to create something of your own means more.

I honestly don't know if employers picked up on that, but all the same, I did get a job and my breakthrough into the industry, so it seemed to work for me.

 

Shortly thereafter, I took the portfolio and the domain down, and I haven't needed it since, but still, it was invaluable for that first chance.

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Many tech employers evaluate a developer based upon their GitHub account. Not just what projects you've posted there, but what activity you've had: how often you update your projects, how interested other people are in your projects, how much you participate in other people's projects. Because your work in GitHub is visible (the actual code), it's worth much more from an evaluation standpoint. 

 

In my (limited) experience, having your own website is really neither here nor there. Maybe it means more if your a designer, because it's a good place for a portfolio. But if you're a developer, interviewing for a developer job, having your own website is pretty much assumed and doesn't really reveal much. You can create your own website, which is the absolute least you'd be expected to know. 

 

Sometimes a website is used to gauge what kinds of topics you're interested, working on, and writing about, though. 

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Interesting information, guys.

 

Larry: I have a GitHub account with nothing on it. What kind of things should I add?

 

Besides my website (which I worked on for years and is still incomplete because it was THAT big of a project), I don't really have anything to show for myself. I need to code some new stuff.

 

I was thinking of just coding some random applications and putting them on there but I have a feeling that's not a good approach. I probably need to go about this more methodically. Perhaps I need to focus on showcasing certain skills? Like perhaps do a JavaScript project (read: when I'm good enough at JS to do a JS project lol), a procedural PHP one, an OO PHP one, and I don't know what else lol 

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I think it depends on what type of work you want to do in the web dev industry.

In general, there are two camps: front-end and back-end.

 

If you want to do front-end, focus on your JS skills, particularly your ability to use not just jQuery, but lots of other JS libraries like Backbone, Angular, etc. (I'm not saying I personally like these libraries, but they are the skills that most employers seek these days.)

Also the ability to use Grunt and a SASS compiler, etc. is nice to see.

Of course, you are expected to have a mastery of Ajax, event handling, etc.

 

As for back-end, I think someone like Antonio would be more suited to answer that question.

As far as I can tell though, like front-end, back-end employers want to see how familiar you are with using various back-end frameworks. Certainly, Yii knowledge might be something that employers seek.

Also, the ability to use Vagrant, and comfort with configuring a server and doing things from the Unix shell is ideal.

 

As for showing off those skills, you could make simple, fun little websites using various libraries, etc.

Of course, if you're confident in your skills and really want to show off, then do something special, but I think the above is a bare minimum.

 

Now, with all that said, when I worked as a front-end dev before, we had a bunch of more junior devs on the team that were not as strong with JS and other front-end technologies, and as a result, they didn't make as much money, etc., but they still had a job, and for those that were motivated, they had the ability to work hard, code all day, and most importantly, learn from more senior devs, which could help them reach a senior role someday, if they desired.

 

Does that help?

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It does help.

 

That's cool that the senior developers helped the junior ones. Had I been one of the juniors, I'd be soaking the information up like a sponge. I've always wanted a mentor.

 

Which end is my preference? I'd say back end. Although I've always worked on both the front and back ends, I think of myself as more of a back end person because I like it better and I've spent more time with it. The front end involves layout design and that stresses me to no end. I get so hung up on trying to write perfect code that meets all the rules for semantics, accessibility, looks right in all browsers, etc. that it burns me out. So, it would be nice to work somewhere where somebody else had to deal with that stuff lol

 

I heard though that even if I am a back end person it's good to know JavaScript. Is it common for an employer to have an employee doing both PHP and JavaScript? Anybody know?

 

And do you guys know what my strengths need to be if I am a back-end developer?

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It completely depends on the employer.

Bigger code shops are likely going to have a more strict division between front-end and back-end.

Smaller shops will likely be more lax and have everyone doing a bit of everything.

 

Personally, I love having my hands in both worlds.

I sometimes got annoyed at my last job that I had to be strictly front-end, as I was just as capable (if not more capable) and much faster at doing the back-end work in Java than my co-workers, but I wasn't allowed to cross over into that world because I was a "front-end dev".

 

As such, I much prefer where I am now because it's a smaller place where I pretty much get to run the show and I get to do everything. When I get to more or less control the whole codebase is when I feel the most comfortable.

 

Anyway, to each their own, and the way I see it is if you're desperate to just get your foot in the door and start gaining experience and knowledge, don't be too picky; take what you can get and run with it.

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I can understand where you're coming from when you say that you love being involved with both ends. At one time, I thought I was somebody who would love to do it all, but that was before I cared about best coding practices. Like I said before, I am now somebody who can get so hung up on trying to write all HTML & CSS the "right" way that it stresses me out so much that I don't even want to write it.

 

Back when I actually liked HTML & CSS was back in the days when I would make layouts without any regard for if I was doing it the "right" way. For instance, I used a lot of tables lol Mostly all I used CSS for was to change the default fonts and link colors. As long as the layout looked right in my browser, that was all I cared about--to heck with anybody else!*

 

I'm sure with enough time and study I could learn to code really good HTML and CSS but I'm just not motivated. I'd rather study programming. Hence my JavaScript endeavor. ;)

*Well, to an extent. If it was brought to my attention that something looked really messed up in another browser, I would fix it, and take note of what caused the layout to break, so I could avoid that coding practice in the future. So I guess I did have a bit of an "I should do this right" complex, but not much of one xD

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