If you’re going to learn JavaScript, learn JavaScript - by David Nimmo

If you’re going to learn JavaScript, learn JavaScript – by David Nimmo

If you’re going to learn JavaScript, learn JavaScript – by David Nimmo

There are a lot of blog posts floating around these days that will tell you why you should learn JavaScript, but you don’t need to be told that; as a software engineer, you already know. Besides, if you were unsure, a cursory glance at current vacancies will quickly clear up any uncertainties you have on that one. 

But what exactly should you be learning? How do you go about it? “AngularJS is where the money is”, people will tell you. Or “You should definitely learn React, it’s going to eclipse Angular in the job market next year”. Both of these statements are (almost certainly) true, but they’re also indicative of a problem. This time next year we’ll be hearing “React is where the money is, but [some other framework] will take over next year”. 

This isn’t a problem in and of itself. Angular brought a lot of grown-up development concepts to JavaScript (or at least made them popular), and React has brought with it a complete change in mindset, challenging accepted “best practices” and proving that we don’t know everything just yet. We’re right to keep moving forward. But in my experience, far too many developers jump in and learn how to use these tools without first gaining an understanding of the language that they’re written in. Does this matter? Perhaps, perhaps not; these developers still deliver their projects, they still get paid every month, and they still get new jobs when they decide it’s time to move on. But they probably also squirm uncomfortably when they’re asked to explain what a closure is, or how prototypal inheritance works (etc.); and I’d be willing to bet that those uncomfortable squirms have an impact on the salaries they’re offered too, when these questions come up in technical interviews. Javascript books

But it’s not all about right now, or even your next interview. Understanding the fundamentals of JavaScript will make your life a lot easier in day-to-day development, in reviewing other people’s code, and when that inevitable [some other framework] comes along. And the next one. And the one after that. 

JavaScript won’t be relevant forever, but there’s still going to be plenty of work available in it for a long while yet. So if you’re going to learn it, which I think you should, my advice would be to start at the beginning. It’s a surprisingly small language, and it’s even smaller when you take out the bits that are best avoided. And the good bits are really good. 

Thanks to David Nimmo for being our guest writer this week.

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