Web Development Bootcamps in Singapore

I’ve completed Full Stack Foundation at NUS ISS recently and TechLadies bootcamp last October. Here’s my personal review and comparison of the different in-person software development bootcamps that’s available in Singapore. I added General Assembly into the mix even though I did not attend it, but it’s a really popular one that you probably have heard of or considered.

Full Stack Foundation

Course Structure
This full-time course consists of four 10-day modules and costs S$3210 after subsidies (if you’re Singaporean). Classes are on weekdays from 9am to 5pm, there’s a one day break after every 10-day module. There’s theory, concepts taught during classes so if you need to understand how things work before writing code this is great for you. They show you how to implement features step by step with explanations and you get comprehensive notes. You’re expected to complete a project that you’ll start on nearing the end of the course. We also had three 6-hour assessments where we build parts of an app. The assessments can be stressful but I wasn’t working full-time, I had more time to devote to studying and building my project for the course. I built an app where you can specify a domain to crawl and scrape search meta data, and present the information in a table.

Tech Stack
It’s a JavaScript course, the stack taught is the AngularJS (1 not 2 or 4), Node.js, Express, MongoDB & mySQL. I think software development in America is moving away from Ruby on Rails towards React and Node, so I did this course to future-proof my skills. This course is more difficult than the TechLadies one, because you’re adding a front-end framework (AngularJS) into the mix, and it’s JavaScript and Node.js. Node.js doesn’t do a lot for you, you have to write and do more from scratch. For example, implementing registration and login/logout sessions in Rails took a day. It took 3 days for me to figure out how to do it in Node.js and AngularJS. I think that AngularJS is tedious and a real pain. NUS is updating the course to Angular 4 so it should be a lot better in future. The focus for this course is to get things working, less emphasis is placed on clean and organised code. Node.js isn’t an opinionated framework, there’s too many variations. No one cares if you leave your console.logs in your code, or if you use ” and ‘ inconsistently.

Mentors & Lecturers
The great thing about this course was that the lecturers have an average of 10 years of experience in software development. They’re very friendly and approachable and when you have a programming problem. They will figure it out, sit with you to debug, explain and follow up with you. You feel comfortable to ask them anything no matter how silly. I think there’s the expectation in programming culture that you should google the hell out of google before approaching mentors for help, but I didn’t feel that way with our course mentors. Everyone in the course asked anything and everything, I learnt a lot from questions that my course mates asked. Also, I thought that the security module was really interesting and fun, we learnt how to hack into a server. I don’t think you have security topics in other bootcamps. However we realised some of the things we were taught to do in this course were not secure.

Who’s this course for?
Probably for folks with some programming experience. Half of the class are computer science or software engineering graduates, some are recent CS graduates from NUS, some in firmware / IoT, and some used to be Java / C programmers but have been out of the industry for a while. I don’t think I would’ve gained much from this course if I didn’t complete the freeCodeCamp front-end JavaScript track and have some experience with Ruby on Rails. Definitely try to learn JavaScript well by completing algorithms and small projects to prepare for this course. One of the nice things I gained from this course was that I was able to benchmark my web development skills against CS and IT graduates. I was apprehensive about going into software development initially but realised that practice is all that matters, it gave me the confidence to pursue this.

TechLadies Bootcamp

Course Structure
The bootcamp is a part-time 12-week programme and costs S$500 to join. You don’t have formal lessons in this bootcamp you won’t be shown how to do things, we learn by experimenting and figuring things out on our own. Sometimes I felt that I was stabbing in the dark or doing things without really understanding it. You will be in a group of 3 building a web app for a non-profit organisation. Our team built a client and event management app. To be selected for the course you have to submit an app so definitely you must know the basics of Ruby and Rails. You meet with your mentor and group every Saturday for about 6 hours and work on the app every waking hour you can find. Sometimes we meet on a weekday night with our mentor to sort out coding woes. I was working full-time while completing this programme and it was pretty stressful, I spent about 30 hours each week working on the app.

Tech Stack
It’s mainly backend web development with Ruby on Rails, there’s no front-end framework – just vanilla JavaScript and Embedded RuBy templates (HTML ERB). It’s a fantastic start if you’re learning your first programming language (after HTML and CSS) as Ruby is easy for beginners – forgiving syntax, less verbose. The framework, Rails does a lot for you and you can build applications fast and efficiently. You get to see results of what you built fast, and that’s really encouraging for coding newbies.

Mentors
Our mentor was Gregor and he’s a perfectionist, very detailed and he looks through every line of our code and comments on them. Quality code was a priority – clean code, proper indentation, no trailing white-spaces. Best practices were drilled in us – KISS (keep it simple, stupid), security, refactoring, deploy first, three rounds of testing, some TDD (test driven development) and more. We gained an insight into programming culture – minaswan (specific to Ruby), when to ask for help and how to provide information pertaining to your programming problem, etc. I learnt a ton going through a full app development cycle from start to finish.

Who’s this course for?
I highly recommend this bootcamp for beginners learning their first framework! I was so glad I did this bootcamp before learning AngularJS and node.js. The difficult part might be getting selected for the bootcamp, 15 ladies are selected from what I remember was a pretty large pool of applicants. A tip is to submit something bigger / more complex than a to-do app. Completing Michael Hartl’s Learn Web Development with Rails will get you there.

General Assembly

I’ve not done this bootcamp, so my opinion are my personal thoughts and what I’ve heard from people. This is a 12-week full-time course that’s S$5500 after subsidies (for Singaporeans).

Tech Stack
The course curriculum is very much up-to-date, they teach the latest technologies. Currently the stack is Node.js, React, Ruby on Rails. It’s a good course if you’d like to get a broad overview of the technologies. However it’s not in-depth knowledge that you’ll gain, the apps built in the course are smaller and less complex compared to the apps built in TechLadies and NUS Full Stack Foundation. With 3 weeks spent on each technology it’s more of an introduction to each. A senior engineer who hire juniors interviewed some graduates of the programme said that they can’t solve beginner ruby algorithms problems.. even though he ended up hiring one!

Who’s this course for?
I think their career support is really great, they teach students how to market themselves well and set them up for good jobs. I even heard from a tech recruiter of someone getting a pretty big starting salary after graduating from this bootcamp. This course is definitely for you if you want to go from zero to a junior web development job the fastest possible route. The other programming bootcamps I did, TechLadies and Full Stack didn’t have much job support. So that’s something to think about if you really need a job fast.

 

So that’s all about the three coding bootcamps in Singapore. I hope this helps you choose the best programme for your needs. I think you’ll stand to gain a lot from the experience and good luck on your journey to being a web developer!

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