JavaScript Specifics for “Where do I go from here?” Question

Note: This was original posted as a post rather than a blog page. I’ve moved the content here and will update this page on a continuous basis.

This article is a continuation of the “Where do I go from here?” article with a focus on JavaScript (this is a frequent question I get from the students in my ‘Beginning Programming with JavaScript’ class ). If you haven’t read the previously mentioned article – you should do that first since it sets up the context for what I’m going to say here.

The usual disclaimer applies. This is going to be an evolving post because everything changes in software all of the time. Feel free to contact me with any questions, suggestions, and feedback.

Assuming that you are pursuing project focused learning here are some JavaScript related ideas/approaches.

The ‘no-frills’ project iteration

I suggest that your first iteration of the project use the JavaScript concepts that you just learned. This means using the JavaScript that you know right now. This no-frills iterations will help you understand the essence of your project.

You can continue with plain old JavaScript and an expansion of the ToDo project that we started in class. Or you can choose your own project. As you can tell based on my other article I’m a big proponent of choosing your own project – something that scratches your own (software) itch.

The ‘I must pursue the latest and greatest’ JavaScript ____ \ ____

Many feel that the pace of change in JavaScript (more specifically – the frameworks and approaches to JavaScript) is a never-ending race. It can feel like you’re Charlie Brown, the football is the current must-use/best/must-have JavaScript related technology, and Lucie is that ‘other’ developer who surfs on the bleeding edge with full understanding and a new Medium article about the best framework/approach/’awesomeness’ that you are not using:

This sort of view is known as “JavaScript Fatigue”, and it connects with the two views of JavaScript. The first is that “JavaScript is great!” and the second is that “JavaScript is a mess!” (the State of JavaScript Survey shows this quite nicely on its front page).

The long and short of it is that there is no magic bullet in terms of programming language, frameworks, and technologies. What’s popular today may be gone tomorrow. JavaScript has gotten large enough that you can pick something and specialize in it.

So pick whatever piques your interest. And if you don’t want to pick, then pick a project that interests you and start coding it in plain JavaScript.

There’s a great Theodore Roosevelt quote that applies to decision making:

“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The next best thing is the wrong thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.”

What about bootcamps?

Programming bootcamps are a huge topic that is beyond the scope of this post. Some minimal suggestions:

  1. Figure out if you are the type of personality that would work well in a bootcamp (are you the type that jumps into a cold pool of water or do you slowy wade in?).

  2. They tend to be a large commitment in terms of both cost and time.

  3. Do your research very very carefully since there are lots of questionable ones out there.

  4. If you are seriously considering a bootcamp, you should try your hand with a free one called Free Code Camp. See how well you can commit to daily and weekly work.

I know of 2 students who went to bootcamps for a career change. They completed the bootcamps successfully and did the career change that they wanted. They also found out that the grass wasn’t greener on the other side. One thing about both of these individuals is that they were driven and would have succeeded even if they didn’t go through a bootcamp. In their case the bootcamps accelerated a trajectory that they were already on.

Additional resources

  • I tweet extensively about podcast episodes (with specific time marks) that provide interesting approaches/ideas about JavaScript.

  • To get practice and more importantly feedback on JavaScript usage/idioms – check out the JavaScript section of exercism.io.

  • If you seek an inviting and helpful open source community where you can learn and contribute to an interesting JavaScript project then look no further than http://hood.ie/ (via Katrina Owen through Go Time episode). Related info:
  • If you want to create a desktop application using JavaScript then check out the Electron project by the folks from Github. If you have used Slack on the desktop then you have used Electron. It’s an amazing project.
    • Information about Electron usage via some podcasts
    • Recommended example of Electron usage – mojibar (via the Changelog podcast)
  • For server side – explore Node.js. Even beyond the server side capability, Node.js is used extensively with JavaScript package managers like NPM and Yarn.

  • To look at and use JavaScript functionality from others – look no further than the NPM repository.

  • If you’re in the “OMG please give me a ‘real’ language” camp and you’re interested in a functional language then check out Elm.
    Elm’s tag line is: A delightful language for reliable webapps. Generate JavaScript with great performance and no runtime exceptions.
    Some related info:

Conclusion

The JavaScript universe is huge. It’s a big mess of awesome. I think Steve Jobs said it best:

stay hungry, stay foolish


Thoughts? Feedback? Let me know: @eli4d


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