The last Friday of every cohort is graduation day. Students put the finishing touches on their independent projects and get ready to celebrate the 10-week gauntlet they've just made it through. Later that night, when the post-graduation celebration draws to a close and the last high-five and bittersweet goodbye fades away, Launch Academy enters the 'Off-season,' a time between cohorts (usually a few weeks) when the only souls on campus are the staff. Perhaps off isn't the most accurate way to describe the weeks between cohorts—things are certainly quieter with the students gone, but the staff is as busy as ever.
The rate of change in software development is staggering, and the offseason is dedicated to incorporating that change into fresh curriculum updates for future cohorts. In the last off-season, we decided to take our updates a step further—with an experiment.
Each EE would have two days to build the app in one of the frameworks and record their experience. They'd then repeat this process two more times in a different framework. By the end of the duel, the book review app would be built a total of nine times. Elise, Kevin and MLG would then compare experiences, ultimately choosing a winning framework to add to the curriculum.
Every language and framework has a tremendous amount of depth. If we wanted to, we could spend all 10 weeks of our on-campus program teaching a single language/framework. But since we're committed to teaching the full web development stack, we need to be sure that our curriculum incorporates a balance of breadth and depth.
With the rules laid out and the basic selection criteria in place, Kevin, Elise, and MLG got to work.
Documentation is a developer's best friend. Of the three frameworks we tested, React had impeccable documentation. Ember wasn't far behind as it has been around for some time. Angular 2.0 is still being built, so for the moment documentation is spotty at best. However, we do expect the Angular 2.0 documentation to get significantly better in the near future.
A component-based framework allows for a high degree of modularity and flexibility while still allowing for quick implementation. React won this category hands-down.
When building a software project, too little structure can cause organizational problems, and too much can cripple the pace of development. The lightweight architecture of React allows for agile development with just enough structure to keep the pace of development high.
We've been building the React curriculum over the last few months, and we'll turn up the heat even further during the upcoming off-season.
As always, we've made some other changes to our curriculum, most notably we're shifting focus from the Rails framework to the Rails API. Change is constant here at Launch—it's what drives us and it's what make our graduates the best in the industry.