Coursera Full Stack Web Development Course Review

During the last 6 months I did the Full Stack Web Development course on Coursera. Since I’m currently about to finish the course by implementing my final capstone project (, I wanted to share my thoughts about the course and its pros and cons.

About the course

The Full Stack Web Development course consists of 6 single courses. Altogether, they make up the complete course which Coursera calls a specialization.

  1. HTML, CSS and JavaScript (3 weeks)
  2. Front-End Web UI Frameworks and Tools (4 weeks)
  3. Front-End JavaScript Frameworks: AngularJS (4 weeks)
  4. Multiplatform Mobile App Development with Web Technologies (4 weeks)
  5. Server-side Development with NodeJS (4 weeks)
  6. Full Stack Web Development Specialization Capstone Project (8 weeks)

It’s possible to take single courses, but of course it’s recommended to take all of them and do them one after another in the given order.

The complete specialization takes 27 weeks and costs 70 € per course, so 420 € in total.

HTML, CSS and JavaScript

This course thoughts the basics about HTML, CSS and JavaScript. It was made for beginners, so if you have a little knowledge of those topics you will probably be board. On the other side, if you have absolutely no knowledge about this HMLT, SSC and LavaScipting, you will have a hard time to learn everything in just 3 weeks. Because that’s how long the course will take.

IMHO: I don’t recommend this one. If you know HTML, CSS and Javascript you won’t learn anything from the course. And if you are absolutely new to those technologies, the course is far too short.

Front-End Web UI Frameworks and Tools

This course focuses on Bootstrap CSS. Although Bootstrap CSS isn’t too complicated, a lot of people don’t understand the principles behind it (e.g. the grid system with its rows and columns). So even if you used Bootstrap CSS before, this course will help you to understand things better.

IMHO: I recommend this one as it really helps to better understand one of the most popular UI frameworks right now.

Front-End JavaScript Frameworks: AngularJS

What the second course was for Bootstrap CSS, this one is for AngularJS. And again, if you know AngularJS there will be nothing new to you. But if you are new to AngularJS this course will find the right tempo to give you a good first glance. However, the course is not really up-to-date with AngularJS’ latest version.

IMHO: I recommend it, as this course gives you a good introduction to AngularJS.

Multiplatform Mobile App Development with Web Technologies

This course is made up around the Ionic Framework for mobile apps. If you are interested in building mobile apps, this course will teach you one out of a thousand possibilities to do this. I think the Ionic Framework is not the worst way to make mobile apps, however the course is still very opinionated and has a very small focus.

IMHO: Out of all 6 courses, I can recommend this one at least. Ionic might be good for some use cases, but the example app made in the course doesn’t benefit from it in any way. It’s just the very same app as made before. Making everything responsive would be a much better approach. This course also relies heavily on installed software like Ionic itself and Android or iOS simulators. If one of those pieces of software don’t run on your device, you are screwed. It took me hours to get the Android simulator to run, before I switched to the iOS simulator which also took me hours.

Server-side Development with NodeJS

This course is about NodeJS and MongoDB. Although the architecture of the example app of the course is terrible (they make database queries in the REST controllers!), the course gives a nice introduction to server-side JavaScript. Both technologies – NodeJS and MongoDB – are state of the art.

IMHO: I can recommend this one to get started with NodeJS and MongoDB, but also to see some draw backs of those very hyped technologies.

Full Stack Web Development Specialization Capstone Project

At the end of the course, everybody must implement a final project. The project should show the learned skills and should – of course – use technologies thought in the course. So you are forced to get your hands dirty and write some own code.

IMHO: This part of the specialization is very interesting, but has some pitfalls, too. It’s important to choose the project idea wisely. The course only takes 8 weeks from which only 2 are dedicated to actual programming. So whatever you implement, it must be something small.

Special note: To complete the course, you must deploy your project to IBM’s PaaS Bluemix for which you will get a test account. As I worked with AWS and some other DevOp technologies before, this wasn’t too hard for me to do. However, Bluemix is a terrible plattform. If you are not familiar with PaaS, plan some extra time to get things working. The course will not prepare you for that in any way.

How Coursera works

Before you take a course at Coursera, you should first understand how the plattform works: Courses on Coursera are mode up of online videos, text and PDFs, exercises and assignments. It’s up to the teacher of the course is laid out.

Every course runs regularly at some specific date and will end at some specific date. This means a course might start every 2 months beginning at the first of the month and ends 4 weeks later. You must (!) take the course at this period of time. It’s just like a physical class you would take at school or university.

Most courses require assignments to complete them. This means there will be some exercise at the end you must fulfil and upload the solution. Most assignments are peer-graded which means that you must review your classmates and you will be reviewed yourself by them.

At the end, you will get a certificate with a lot of buzzwords for this specific course.

IMHO: Coursera is nice, but it’s not the same as a real physical class at university. Especially the peer-graded assignments are problem. Some people tend to criticize the most odd things, while others just give you the point without even looking at your work. It’s completely up to you how serious you take it.

What I learned

Things I liked to learn

Things I didn’t like after learning them

What I missed

What I missed completely during all 6 courses was unit testing. None of the courses teach anything about testing, neither in the front end (Jasmine, Protractor) nor in the backend (Mocha, Sinon).


Best regards,

Review: Modular Cloud Apps with OSGi

Currently, I am doing my literature studies for my master thesis about OSGi and PaaS. One of the first books I read was Modular Cloud Apps with OSGi from Paul Baker and Bert Ertman published by O’Reilly. Here is what I think about it. Maybe it is a little bit ironic sometimes, but I hope you get the point.


Far more OSGi than Cloud

Modular Cloud Apps with OSGi is much more over OSGi than cloud. You will read about bundles, Bndtools, plugins and all the other (standard) OSGi stuff all over the book. The terms IaaS, PaaS and SaaS are explained on page 152 of 190 (including references and index). All stuff before is just OSGi. The only real cloud technology in the book is Amazon’s AutoScaling


As I said, the only “cloud” chapter in the whole book is the one about deployment (~8 pages). The author explains how you can deploy nodes with Amazon’s AutoScaling and the Apache ACE provisioning server. An examples as well as some scripts are provided. And by the way, Paul Bakker, the author of the book is a contributer of Apache ACE, which brings us to another topic called Amdatu.


You will find one term over and over in the book: Amdatu. Amdatu is a Java OSGi framework to build (modular) cloud applications. And guess what? It is build by one of the authors of the book, Paul Bakker! This could be the reason why Amdatu seams to be the answer for everything. How should we implement authentication? With the Amdatu token provider! And what about a REST API? Yeah, Amdatu has all the libraries packed in some OSGi bundles! And ever thought about some documentation? Amdatu has already repacked the Swagger framework! And don’t forget Amdatu Social, Amdatu Mongo and all the other stuff reinventing the wheel for you while talking about modularity to help you to don’t reinvent the wheel. Also consider to not use standard frameworks like Spring, Amdatu has a more modular solution! But try to search Amdatu on Google Trends

The world is not ready for OSGi

The world is still not ready for OSGi! After reading the book you get a notion that every existing Java framework is not modular enough and the only solution is to repack them all. None shall pass.

Riding the cloud wave

The book is really good to learn something about OSGi and maybe to get some insights into SOA. You will learn what bundles are, how provisioning can be done and what REST is. But the cloud part is really weak. The book does not cover any cloud system, any cloud service or any cloud SDK/API. What a pity. Modular Apps with OSGi would have been a much better title, but cloud sells.


By the way, there is an excellent video on YouTube by the authors of the book. IMHO the video explains much better how to build cloud apps with Amdatu and OSGi than the book. Especially the part about Apache ACE becomes very clear. Take a look:

Best regards,