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What happened at A Week of REST?

Posted on in News

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On 5th September we welcomed developers from all over the world for our very first developer workshop – A Week of REST. It was wonderful to bring together such an engaged group of developers to the beautiful Peak District for four days of in-depth learning about the WordPress REST API and React.

Why organise a developer workshop?

At Human Made, we have a lot of in-house knowledge about the WordPress REST API. The REST API project started as a GSoC project from our own Ryan McCue. Since those early days, the REST API has been shepherded by Ryan along with Rachel Baker, and our CTO Joe Hoyle has played an important role on the team. This means that not only do they know how the REST API works but they have unique insights into decision-making and any of the quirks of the API.  At Human Made, we also use the REST API in a number of client projects, including work we’ve done for ustwo, Market Realist, and npm, and we use the REST API in our own products, like Nomadbase.

Into the mix we added Zac Gordon, a professional educator and the guy behind the JavaScript for WordPress course. As well as knowledge of JavaScript, WordPress, and React, Zac brought his deep experience of education and of delivering quality training to the team.

What happened?

planning

The preparation for A Week of REST started long before the event, with an in-person meetup in the sunny north-east of England, and months of work online to produce and package a tight, well-paced course. We decided that the attendees would build a liveblog app from scratch, the building blocks of which would demonstrate different elements of using the REST API.

The code for the liveblog is available on Github:

You can see the liveblog in action. Just insert the link of a site with the REST API active (making sure to include the trailing slash), for example http://aweekofrest.hm/liveblog/ will connect to the liveblog we created for the event.

We designed the course to have a specific flow. It was broken down into modules: for each module there was a lecture, then exercises gave attendees the opportunity to work with concepts themselves, and then a project element that allowed for practical application.

On Day 1 we had a meet-and-greet, which gave us a chance to meet with all of the attendees and welcome them to Matlock. We also did an introduction to the course, providing an overview of everything that was going to be covered during the week.

Day 2 started bright and early with office yoga from Zac (which he did every morning!). Then Zac spent the first half of the day reviewing the basics of the toolset, React, and JavaScript. In the afternoon, Joe walked attendees through the React boilerplate that we’d created for the application, and attendees built a static application using React.

ryan-auth

On Day 3 it was time to start working with data from the REST API. Attendees were taught how to read posts from the REST API. The afternoon was dedicated to an in-depth walkthrough of authentication, including OAuth and the Broker. By the end of the day, each attendee’s live blogging application was displaying data pulled from WordPress using the REST API.

By Day 4 attendees were ready to finish up the application, learning how to write to WordPress using the REST API. They also learned how to create custom endpoints for a custom field that created a feature for visitors to “Like” different posts. By the end of the day everyone had a working live blog application.

On the final day, Day 5, we spent some time looking at how attendees could take their learning further, both with resources they could explore and ways that they could expand upon the application.

Throughout the week there were lots of opportunities for informal Q&As, and because of the intimate nature of the event there was plenty of time for everyone to get time to talk to Joe, Ryan, and Zac, and to pick their brains about the REST API. There was a great sense of camaraderie among attendees, with people helping each other out, providing advice, and building relationships that we hope will endure beyond the event.

What did attendees think?

We were thrilled with how the event went and we had positive feedback throughout. Our aim for the event was to provide high-quality education: we wanted people to come away feeling like they had learned something that they could use in the professional lives. We achieved that and more. Here’s what some of the attendees had to say:

I would definitely recommend A Week of REST to other developers!

A Week of REST has provided me with the knowledge, hands on experience and confidence to start using React, ES6 and the REST API straight away for both personal and client projects. The quality of the lectures and tuition was of a really high standard, and the project we built together had a real world application which was very useful! On top of that the location, venue and hospitality were all fantastic, so I would definitely recommend A Week of REST to other developers!

Dave Green, MakeDo

I learnt a ton without feeling overloaded

What could have been intense and exhausting was enjoyable and exhilarating – I learnt a ton without feeling overloaded, hung out with some great people and was able to focus on learning, thanks to the great organisation.

Philip John, Automattic

Learn from the best

Learn from the best, the instructors of the Week of REST know what they are talking about. I feel confident that I can extend the API and create apps using React after this amazing course. It’s a lot you’ll get, so make sure the weekend afterwards is for resting, no not coding.

Silvan Hagen, Required+

Went from zero to hero

Went from zero to hero! I was unsure of where to begin on my own and after A Week of Rest I am now confident enough to start my own WordPress API/React projects.

Andrea Salkey

You can also read what attendees wrote on their own blogs:

What next?

On 9th March 2017 we’re excited to be bringing the first of our REST API events to the USA with A Day of REST Boston. It’s a great time to sign up as we’re currently selling early-bird tickets.

We’re also looking at bringing A Week of REST to the USA, and exploring the possibility of providing it as in-house training for web development teams. If you’re interested in either of these, drop us an email – we’d love to chat!