Coding Category Archives - General Assembly Blog

Dash—One Week Later


Ivan S., a teacher from Ukraine, sent us this picture of his students using Dash

Last week, General Assembly released Dash, our interactive, online learn-to-code program, to the world. What happened after that exceeded even our most wildly optimistic projections:

  • More than 40,000 people signed up, representing nearly every country on earth
  • Together, Dash users worldwide created over 124,000 websites, writing more than 41 million lines of code.
  • Collectively, users spent more than 9.3k people-hours (or 388 days) learning to code on Dash.

These numbers are great, but what we’re most excited about how much people enjoyed using Dash. We heard from a lot of folks over the past week. Here are a few highlights:

“Wow! All I can say is this is changing my life right now. As a graphic designer I have been trying to get into coding and every time I get discouraged and push it aside. I found your site today and can’t stop learning. I absolutely love the way this is teaching me it all seems to just click now. I was using crutches like adobe muse and didn’t have an understanding of what I was actually designing. I hope to really get into this and start coding sites all from code when I’m ready.”
– Sean O.

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Introducing Dash, GA’s Online Learn-to-Code Program


Introducing Dash

Earlier this year, we built Dash, an interactive, online learn-to-code program as an onboarding tool for our Web Development Immersive students. At the time, there were a lot of existing products, but we wanted something interactive and engaging, in a real world, project-based format that would prepare students who hadn’t programmed before to dive in. So we decided to build it ourselves.

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Preparing for an Immersive Coding Program? Don’t Stop at the Pre-Work.


The past few months, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the onboarding experience for students entering General Assembly’s Web Development Immersive (WDI) program. WDI is a 12-week, full-time program that gives people the foundation and skills needed to become full-stack web developer.

From 9 am to 9 pm on weekdays, and all day Saturdays and Sundays, students are immersed in code. Because the program is so intense and the learning curve so steep, we, along with other coding immersives (also known as “bootcamps”), advise students to start preparing before they arrive on day one.

Pretty standard is the concept of “pre-work”: 50-100 hours of readings, tutorials, and exercises designed to give everyone a foundation in basic web development concepts, as well as level set the class. At GA, students cover Git, HTML, CSS, and Ruby before starting WDI.

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Alumni Interview: Edward Drax


Meet Edward Drax, graduate of General Assembly London’s 10-week Digital Marketing and 10-week Front-End Web Development programs. His career previously spanned advertising (at Saatchi & Saatchi), commercial property development, and a health and wellness business. Edward currently serves as Managing Director of Expense Magic, a mobile and web app that removes the pain of capturing, processing and storing receipts and expenses.

1. Why learn digital marketing when you also have a business to run?

While Expense Magic is part of Paperless Receipts, we are essentially a startup within the larger business. So I recognized early on that traditional marketing would be too expensive, too immeasurable, and too slow for us.

I’d been reading a lot about Push-Pull strategies and the importance of building a relationship with customers, and realized that digital marketing was the way forward. The ability to acquire your true target audience, converse with it, and track how you’re doing every step of the way – I wanted to understand in more depth how to do this.

2. You’ve had experience working with brands both small and big. How would you say digital marketing applies to more established players?

Mastering digital is just as important for big global businesses as it is for small nimble startups. For example, look at Burberry, and see how they are shaking up the fashion industry! For big businesses, it is no longer the case of “I have a product. These are the benefits. You will use it.” It is about establishing a community of followers, and letting people know that you’re here to listen and solve their problems. That is the role digital marketing plays, and if you’re not prepared to listen to your customers, someone else will.

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Alumni Interview: Natalia Fierro


Meet Natalia Fierro, a graduate of General Assembly’s full-time Web Development Immersive program and part-time Front-End Development course. Before enrolling at GA, Natalia worked as a designer, art director, project manager, and commissioned artist.

1. What inspired you to learn web development?

Five years ago I visited L.A., saw the tech scene there, and knew I needed to get involved. I’ve always been interested in building things and I realized that acquiring web technology skills would make me better able to shape my own ideas, and other people’s ideas, into products.

2. What’s the best thing about coding?

Coding brings together people from so many different backgrounds, people who have accrued different strengths along the way. Everyone’s eager to help each other out, whether in person or online.

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GA Alumni Team Up to Win at HackFit Boston

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Two General Assembly campuses made one (winning) team at HackFit Boston last weekend. Alumni from GA’s Boston and NYC long-form courses joined forces at the two-day hackathon, which took place at Microsoft’s New England Research & Development Center from September 28-29 in Cambridge, MA.

Five NYC alums made the trip up to Boston on Friday night in an Audi SUV from our friends at ZipCar. WeHostels provided accommodations for the weekend.

Over the course of two days, the GA alumni team – a diverse group of UX designers, front-end developers, and back-end developers – got to know each other, mapped out their idea, and set out to win. And win they did.

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Alumni Interview: General Assembly Hong Kong Alum Denis Tsoi

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Meet Denis Tsoi, a graduate of General Assembly’s 10-week Front-End Web Development course in Hong Kong. In a previous life, Denis worked as a dealer for a precious metals brokerage. He realized that “working in finance is not what it’s cracked up to be,” and since learning to code at GA, he’s embarked on a new career as a web developer at the creative agency Imagination HK.

What inspired you to learn to code?

It all started a year ago when I first joined Dim Sum Labs, a hacker space in Hong Kong. At the time, I didn’t know anything about programming or how to make a website.

One of Dim Sum Labs’ co-founders, William Liang, mentioned an upcoming Startup Weekend event that he’d be mentoring at. I had just finished reading The Lean Startup and The Four Hour Work Week, and thought I’d give it a try. At the event, I noticed a surplus of “business” types, but not many designers or coders. I was frustrated when I realized that I wasn’t one either.

A few months passed. I was applying for jobs, and emailed someone at a startup that I was interested in. While I was bummed that they weren’t hiring, I thought it’d be best to keep in touch since he was so nice over email. I later found out he was teaching GA’s Front-End Web Development course, which I had heard about through somewhere else. It was a sign!

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Meet Pedro, General Assembly London Web Development Graduate


This week in the The Mirror, an article about how General Assembly London is helping bridge the U.K.’s digital skills gap through education. A graduate of our full-time Web Development Immersive program, Pedro Maltez, shared his story:

“I could see training was the only way forward as I had no idea how to get an entry-level job in the area which interested me — coding.”

Within a matter of weeks he started on a 12-week web development course with General Assembly in London.

“It was ideal, as it provided me with all the necessary skills I needed to start computer coding and web development. It was five days a week plus study in the evening so it was demanding. I was commuting more than two hours every day but it was worth it.”

In July, three weeks after finishing his course, Pedro started his current job as a web developer for Adaptive Lab, where he works on clients’ websites.

Read the full article here.

Where Are They Now? Benji Decker


Meet Benji Decker, a graduate of General Assembly’s 12-week, full-time Web Development Immersive program. Before enrolling in the course, Benji served as Community Director at the coworking space WeWork, and is currently Chief People Person at Founders Bloc.

1. What inspired you to learn web development?

Not to get too Holden Caulfield, I was tired of feeling like a phony. I was reasonably tech-savvy I suppose, and had coded a little bit before, but not enough to really speak confidently with developers or have any certainty in structuring projects. I loved the idea of really knowing what I was talking about and being able to manage projects from the field, which so far I feel has totally paid off.

2. What’s surprised you the most about learning to code?

That it all makes sense. I really like Arthur C. Clarke’s famous quote that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Every day, we spend a huge amount of time browsing the web, basically abiding by this — things just kinda appear, we have no idea how. But it turns out it’s just a machine, a cleverly devised system, and if you understand the basics, you can start to see the moving pieces — modifying them, building on them. And it’s really quite cool.

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Dressed to Code Fashion Hackathon


Last weekend, General Assembly teamed up with Glamour magazine and the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) to host Dressed to Code, a one-day fashion-themed hackathon.

Hosts Cindi Leive (Editor in Chief, Glamour) and Steven Kolb (CEO, CFDA) kicked off the morning with opening remarks about the intersection of fashion and tech. “A year ago, I didn’t even know what a hackathon was!” Kolb confessed.

The attendees — a mix of designers, web developers, and creative thinkers — formed teams and worked on their ideas until the 5:30 pm submission deadline. Representatives from API partners Facebook, Aviary, Gilt, Tumblr, Glamour, Foursquare, and SendGrid were available for support.

Unlike typical hackathons, which tend to draw a male-dominant crowd, over half of Dressed to Code’s participants were female.

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