CS373 Fall 2021: Bren Keeton: Final Entry

I feel that while the lectures presented excellent demonstrations of the takeaways listed, the material of the assignments was not suited for us to put all of them into practice. All of the Python programming we did was for the backend API of our websites, and yet there was no place (that I found) for us to use some Python specific features like decorators (even though Flask requires you to use its predefined decorators for routes) and laziness, or to use any sort of algorithm.

Try to go out of your comfort zone. You might come into this class with experience in some areas of web development, and while you absolutely can (and probably should) utilize those skills, you should also try to work on stuff you don’t have as much or any knowledge of, just to help broaden your own skillset.

Cold calling isn’t a problem. Professor Downing isn’t calling on people expecting them to give a perfect explanation. He wants people to make mistakes that way he can reinforce their and other students’ knowledge on the subject, so it’s worth the potential embarrassment.

I don’t like it. I recall on the day Professor Downing was going over the syllabus, he described it as both “innovative” and “draconian” in the same sentence. It’s also way too harsh in terms of project grading. You can get an E for all but one items on a rubric, with the last being an R, and you’ll get an R for the entire project.

I didn’t actually attend any of the help sessions or office hours, so I can’t comment on them.

The TAs definitely make themselves available like you would expect, but I appreciate that project teams are required to meet with their mentor TA every week. It helps ensure teams are up to speed on what exactly they need to work on for a particular phase.

I didn’t know anything about Flask, but I’m definitely glad there was a framework that could pretty much do all the work of setting up API endpoints for us.

React Bootstrap was a lifesaver because it gave our group of CS majors free, well styled React components that we could just plug and would nearly 100% of the time look good. It’s an incredible timesaver since you don’t have to get down in the weeds of CSS styling.

There was definitely a lot of stuff we had to self-learn, but I feel like it was representative of what you will be doing in industry. There’s no way you’ll know every possible thing you need for a project, so it was an educational experience for how to educate ourselves on the job.

I think that this course would benefit from a different set of papers. I took OOP last semester, and I would imagine most people take both OOP and SWE during their time at UT just considering their sheer quality and value, it was a bit annoying going through the same papers I had already read. And since the point of taking both classes is to gain a greater breadth and depth of knowledge, having different papers to read would only help with that goal.

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Bren Keeton

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