Saad Irfan

Year in Review 2019 — React.js, Gatsby.js, Developer Student Clubs & DSC Summit 2019

LifeJanuary 2, 202017 min read

Last year, I dived into a new tradition of writing the Year in Reviews to reflect upon what I was up to the whole year. I found this practice quite productive as it helped me to see the difference in my a year-old self and my current self. So, if you are interested in reading about my 2018 version, click here otherwise keep reading. I hope it would be as interesting for you to read as it was for me to experience. Now without any further ado, let's jump right in! 🙌

2019 has been an interesting year for me. Why interesting?! Because this year saw the end of my freshman year and the beginning of my sophomore year at college. I grew more than I ever have in years, experienced things that I consider extraordinary, had the privilege to meet some amazing people. I did stuff and faced a few things that I never thought I would. To summarize in one line, it's been a hell of a ride. 💯

The demise of my father

I thought a lot about whether I should add this to my Year in Review or not. It was a difficult decision to make. But in the end, I decided I will because it's a big part of what happened in 2019, probably the biggest.

On the eve of December 10, 2019, my father passed away. He had been on bed rest for six months and was not making any significant recovery. I am not going to write much about it for personal reasons. Kindly keep him in your prayers.

Google Developer Students Club

⚡ For the first time this year, Google opened its applications for Pakistani students to apply to its Developer Student Club program. Developer Student Clubs (DSC) are university-based Google community group for students interested in Google Developer Technologies. Students from all undergraduate or graduate programs with an interest in growing as a developer are welcome to join these communities on their campuses. 💥

I along with thousands of other applicants applied. I got shortlisted, then interviewed and by the end of July 2019, I was greeted with this email. Congratulations we are thrilled to inform you that you have been selected as a Developer Student Club Lead for your campus. You can read the rest. 😉

Other than me, 41 other students from all across Pakistan received this email. There were, of course, some formalities afterward. And then, voila! We all were in the first batch of the DSC Leads from Pakistan. 🥂

❄ It's so amazing to know that I was able to put my university - University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore - on the Google DSC map. 🙌

The next big thing was the first DSC Summit that happened in October of 2019. It was a three day fully funded event by Google for DSC Leads. Every one of us was brought to the Islamabad from our cities where we stayed at the Marriott Hotel. The actual event took place in the National Incubation Center (NIC). Many Googlers also flew to the capital from abroad to deliver different talks. 🏙

⚙ TechValley, an Abbottabad based company, was overseeing the whole summit. They handled everything, from our commute to hotel reservations to our meals. I must say, they did a marvelous job of keeping us on schedule. 😂

Some of the Leads who were traveling from Karachi or Hyderabad were given a plane ticket whereas the rest of us traveled by road. We left at dawn, greeted by TechValley folks by 11 PM and then reached the hotel around 1 PM. 😪

DAY 1 - Firebase, Angular.js, Community Dinner

The first thing we got on our arrival was a file. It had everything in it that we needed or might need in case of an emergency. The file also had 100 stickers in it which was amazing. 👏

We also received two awesome T-shirts to wear on the summit. You will see me wearing them ahead. 😉

We had consecutive workshops with a couple of breaks in between for Tea. We all need Tea to recharge ourselves. Right?!

🙌 All the workshops were fun and interesting. But the one that caught my attention was about Angular.js delivered by Hüseyin Babal. Hüseyin came all the way from Turkey for a day just to get us started with Angular.js.

😋 The TechValley team had planned a community dinner for us so that we can eat, enjoy and network. By the time it started, we all were starving.

We were back in the hotel by 9 PM. We got our room keys, picked our bags and then headed to our rooms to change because we were not done. Here is the clip of one of the many things we did that night. 😆

Here are some of the pictures from day 1 of the summit. ❄

DAY 2 - Flutter, National Monument, Monal

The DSC Team at Google had carefully planned the event so that we would not lose interest at any point. So to kick start the 2nd day of the summit, the Google team first engaged us in an energizer, and then right after it, workshops began. 🤞

🚀 Considering the nature of the summit, workshops were both about technology and leadership. There were panel discussions, workshops on public speaking, how we could become future leaders, and many more. Betty Tsui, a recruiter at Google, delivered a workshop on Google Student Programs, where she told us about all the amazing opportunities that Google provides to young students. 😲

🌐 These workshops continued from 9:25 AM to 4:35 PM in the afternoon. Gazihan Alankus, a Google Developer Expert, delivered a workshop on Flutter and concluded the day. He gave us the basic introduction we need to get started with this amazing cross-platform Google's UI toolkit. His talk was particularly interesting because of all his practical demonstrations, which helped me understand things more clearly. 👨‍💻

National Monument of Pakistan

The folks from TechValley were really friendly, but when it came to following the schedule, they listened to no one. At around 4:40 PM, we were escorted back to the coasters and en route to the Pakistan National Monument. We took some personal pictures there, made some memories, and then our official picture was taken. 📷

Monal Restaurant

The day was not over. Right after we took the official picture, we headed back to the buses, went to the hotel to change into a cultural attire, and then made our way towards Monal. I must say going to the top of the mountain is easy, but when it comes to coming down in the middle of the night on a bus that is driving at more than 50 KM/h you develop motion sickness for the time being or at least I did. 🤮

Midnight Venture

Who wants to sleep when youngsters from all across Pakistan have gathered in a single place to network?! Coming back from Monal, it was midnight and we decided to go outside and wander on the streets of Islamabad. We got a good night text from Shad Roi, our mentor. And at that moment, we were all outside the gates of Marriott. 😆

Ramis Mustafa and Ali Naqi were leading the way and after an hour-long walk, we reached F7. The things we did next, I am going to keep them redacted. But it was surely a night to remember. 🙌

Here is a picture ft. Haroon Ahmad asking Ramis Mustafa something something. 😛

DAY 3 - Checkout, Resume building, Departure

Even on the last day, which is usually about goodbyes, we didn't stop learning. We had a couple of community building, résumé building, and marketing workshops. If you are looking for how you can create an effective résumé, click here. You will find an amazing talk by Betty Tsui on what Google expects, sees, and how it analyzes your résumé when you send it for an internship or a job. 🤞

🎓 Being an aspirant Computer Scientist, you have many questions and no one to answer unless you have a proper mentor. So what's cooler than getting those answers from the top tiers of the tech industry? For this, there was an open Q/A session where all the Googlers came up on the stage, and we had the opportunity to ask them almost anything whatsoever. So, that's what we did. 😎

🎙 Shad delivered the closing remarks by telling us about the importance of what we are all doing. There were also some goosebumps moments involved. Here is the picture of all of us.

🥳 And this concluded the Developer Student Club Summit 2019. Woohoo!! Here is the picture of the amazing people who came from abroad just to provide us with these amazing three-day experience.

Becoming the top GDSC Lead from Southeast Asia

Since the 42 of us made it to the first batch of DSC Leads from Pakistan, we have been working tirelessly to keep this new spark alive. We have organized different hands-on workshops, study jams, talks and much more. All of these efforts were to put our country, Pakistan, at the top of the worldwide DSC community. 💪

🚀 In December of 2019, Google shared some stats with the Leads to let all of us know who is leading in the whole southeast Asia. According to the stats, I was among the top leads. I wrote a detailed piece on it. If you are interested in giving it a read, click here.

Node.js new community page

In the second half of 2019, I got an opportunity to contribute to the Node.js Foundation. Ahmad Awais, a Google Developer Expert in Web Technologies, is an active member of the Node.js Foundation. He kickstarted an outreach agenda of building the new community page for the Node.js. 🏗

Ahmad told me about it and presented me with this opportunity to work along with him and a team of awesome developers. So far, I and another developer, Saqib Ameen, have curated the content for the new community page. He and I, in the supervision of Ahmad, have worked hard to write all the appropriate content related to Node.js. ✍

⟶ Here is the link to the Pull Request (PR) of the new community page content.

Diving into React and Gatsby.js

I wanted to learn React for a while since it is the most popular front-end library. So when I saw that I have the perfect opportunity now, I dived into it without giving it a second thought. I picked the Mastering React.js course by Mosh Hamedani. ⚡

🙌 Mosh explained everything so clearly and perfectly. I learned at my own pace so it took me a couple of weeks to get ahold of it properly. During this time, I built a small application using React — Vidly. Vidly was an app for movie enthusiasts where they can keep a track of the movies they have watched so far. Here is a GIF of what the application looked like. ⚙

Gatsby.js —

I attended a talk in 2018 about the new stack on the market — Jamstack short for JavaScript, API, and Markup. It was extremely illuminating to learn about the revolution that Jamstack brought along when it came. Back then, I was a complete beginner so I didn't get much. But now, I can understand how impactful it can be for the tech industry. ⚡

Gatsby.js is used to create websites that are built onJamstack. It is a static site generator that is used to build high performance and blazing fast static sites. Jamstack eliminated one of the key requirements of putting a site live i.e, hosting. As this stack involves the building of static sites, they can be hosted for free on services like Netlify, Firebase, GitHub pages, etc. 🔥

🚀 With all of this in mind, when it came to building the Developer Student Club UET Lahore website, I choose Jamstack. I picked a starter pack from the Gatsby.js website and started molding it in the ways I wanted. I then deployed the site on Firebase.

Bitconverter — Next.js

In 2019, I mostly learned and worked in JavaScript because I find it cool for some reason. I first learned React.js then worked in Gatsby.js, then started learning Node.js and lastly Next.js. Next.js is a React.js framework. Among so many things, it makes server-side rendering super easy.

I took a small dive into this area of JavaScript and created a small application using Next.js and coin desk API. The application coverts the prices of bitcoins to USD, GBP, and EUR.

⟶ Here is the link to the repo of the application.

GitHub and Hacktoberfest

It was in 2018 when I joined GitHub and contributed to Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) for the first time during October. To keep the spark alive, whenever I did a small project or build anything, I used Git for the version control and hosted my code on GitHub. ⚙

Here is the picture of how my GitHub looked like in 2018.

Here is the picture of how it now looks like.

Now whatever I do, how small it is, I push it to my GitHub. That's why, so far, I have conducted two hands-on workshops entirely on Git and GitHub where I have taught students about version controlling, basics of Git and how they can host their code on GitHub. 🙌

👩‍💻 In 2019, I was eagerly waiting for October because of the Hacktoberfest. Hacktoberfest is a global event that lasts for a whole month of October. It happens to promote the contribution to the open-source software. Thousands of developers all across the world participate in it.

So when it came in 2019, not only I finished the challenge but also organized workshops for the students. There I told them about the idea behind this amazing event and also why they should participate. Nearly 50+ folks who attended my talks participated and finished 2019 Hactoberfest. 🥳🥳

Devfest '19

Devfest, short for Developer Festival, is a community-led developer event hosted by Google Developer Groups (GDG) around the globe. After five years, GDG Lahore organized this event again. It happened at the end of November 2019 at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). I and the other Developer Student Club (DSC) Leads from Lahore helped the GDG Team to organize this huge event. 💪

🎙 During the DevFest '19, the DSC Leads got a chance to talk with the audience about what the Developer Student Clubs are, what we are doing and how we are creating an impact. We shared some stories, explained to the audience why Google started the DSC initiative, and then answered some questions. It was an amazing experience to address a crowd of this scale. 🤞

This was the audience. 😎

Joining TheDevCouple

I have been writing blogs for almost six months now. I started writing when in July 2019, I joined as a Web Dev Apprentice. TheDevCouple is a tech blog owned by Ahmad Awais and Maedah Batool where they write tech reviews on companies like Kinsta, WP Engine, NorthStack hosting. Before this, I didn't really write much and only had a couple of articles on my blog. 😪

In TheDevCouple, my job was to write extensive detailed pieces on the services of multi-million-dollar tech companies like Kinsta, WP Engine. Maedah Batool and Saqib Ameen taught me everything about writing detailed tech reviews. So far, I have written blogs on Kinsta about their performance, support, and site management tools. You can find all these blogs on their site.

TV shows

I often describe myself as a TV Fanatic because of the insane amount of TV Shows I watch. So, this review simply can't be completed without me listing the shows I had started or finished in 2019. So here is the list. 😉

  • The Witcher
  • How I Met Your Mother
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • You
  • Billions
  • Titans
  • WU Assassins
  • Money Heist
  • House of Cards
  • Designated Survivor
  • Chernobyl
  • Genius
  • Blood and Treasure
  • The 100
  • The Blacklist
  • A Discovery of Witches

In 2018, I made a new year resolution for 2019 that I would restrict myself from watching more than 10 shows. Guess that's a goner now. 😂

Follow me on Twitter, GitHub, and Instagram. Or you can add me on Facebook if you are interested in following what I am up to these days.

Cheerios. 🤞