Review: FreeCodeCamp new curriculum

FreeCodeCamp (FCC) is a great resource for learning web development. Large numbers of FCC graduates now work professionally as developers. It offers an in-depth, well thought out training path. It won’t make you a fully fledged, professional web developer by itself. However, it will take you a long way building a very broad skill set. They have now (2018) completely revised their course curriculum.

I used FCC when I wanted to complete a full review of my web development skills before moving to full-time freelance web development. The process of studying their Frontend Web Developer curriculum was very rewarding. The quality of the materials and the breadth of the subjects covered was impressive. So, when I saw that they had introduced a new curriculum, I just had to try it out.

What’s changed?

The old FCC curriculum was split into three qualifications:

  • Frontend Developer
  • Backend Developer
  • Data Visualisation

Training was delivered in an interactive environment where each element taught was immediately tested through coding challenges. To complete a certification required completion of a number of substantial coding projects that were progressively more challenging.

The new curriculum retains the best of the old one, but reorganises some of the material and introduces a large amount of new training. Five certifications are available, recognising that a web developer’s role is rarely solely front or back end in isolation. The certifications are:

  • Responsive Web Design Certification (300 hours training and project work)
  • Javascript Algorithms And Data Structures Certification (300 hours)
  • Front End Libraries Certification (300 hours)
  • Data Visualization Certification (300 hours)
  • Apis And Microservices Certification (300 hours)
  • Information Security And Quality Assurance Certification (300 hours)

Finishing all six courses allows the student to claim their Full Stack Developer certificate.

FCC also offer a Coding Interview Prep section which consists of thousands of hours of coding challenges

Quality

I have worked my way through the Javascript Algorithms And Data Structures Certification. Some of it duplicates content from the legacy frontend qualification, but there’s a lot of new content. It now includes more detail on Regex and JS data structures, plus new material covering debugging, ES6, object-oriented and functional programming techniques. The quality of the materials is very good and the new content is definitely a big improvement on the original.

I then worked my way through part of the Front End Libraries Certification. This includes the Bootstrap and jQuery sections from the old frontend qualification, plus a large amount of new content. This includes SASS, React, Redux, and React/Redux.

The SASS training’s well put together but limited in scope. It’s great as a starting point, but you’ll need additional training from another source.

The React training was less clear. Basic concepts are covered well, but when the course material delves into the detail the explanations aren’t so great. I’ll finish this course once I’ve built up my foundational React knowledge from other resources. There’s a lot of good content once you are less reliant on the course content. This will improve. The community of volunteers working behind the scenes on the FCC material does a great job with updates and fixes.

Summary

Overall – the new FCC curriculum is a definite improvement to what was already a great resource. The depth and breadth of the content are impressive and well thought out. As I said above, it is not perfect and some explanations can be unclear. Fortunately, there is a large and active user community on their forum who are available to provide support and advice. If you want to train as a web developer, or if, like me, you are looking for a resource to polish your existing skills and learn new ones, I can highly recommend the FCC offering.

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