How it feels to learn JavaScript in 2016
Jose Aguinaga

How I learned to stop worrying and love the JavaScript

The JavaScript ecosystem is boiling and overflowing with libraries, frameworks and build tools that are all the rage today and all but forgotten tomorrow. How can a reasonably sane person trying to get a handle on front end development deal with this mess? Here is what I did.

1. Learn the actual language

You have to learn JavaScript: objects, functions, prototypes, closures, this keyword, etc. Practice what you learn. Do projects in plain vanilla JavaScript.

Learn from third-party code, but don’t lean on anything. No React and no Angular. Going back to “how they did things in the 90's” may not earn you cool points, but solid fundamentals are more important.

You will also face some of the problems that popular libraries and frameworks are designed to solve. This will help you develop the ability to pick the right — as opposed to fashionable — tools for the job. You may even realize that some solutions are an overkill, and come up with simpler ones.

2. Write your own JS library or framework

Not because the world is in desperate need of yet another one, but because this exercise will make you:

a) better at JavaScript and coding in general;

b) confident in your ability to make sense of new libraries and frameworks.

Some years back I wrote my own version of jQuery. It was one third of the size of the original, it performed better, and had the extra UI-related features I wanted. More importantly, I became at ease with the exploding plethora of industrial-grade JavaScript tools. If you can take one apart and put it back together again, you can certainly learn how to use a few. Learning becomes much easier when you have a deeper understanding of the context, structure and purpose of these tools.

3. Harness the power of new tech

Anyone who ventures out into the world of JavaScript today will face a storm of technologies. It brings excitement and magic, but also stress and confusion. Build yourself a solid foundation, and you will be able to harness the power rather than be swept away.