JavaScript, At first glance…

Today is week 7, day 3, of the 12 week program in Ruby on Rails. During lecture we were introduced to JavaScript for the first time. Until now, we have been furiously learning Ruby on Rails in bites that would seem impossible to swallow, and yet somehow the information is sticking. Why would we be learning anything about JavaScript? Isn’t one programming language enough? The thing is, as back-end developers, we are going to need to be able to speak to the front-end, and more specifically as Ruby on Rails developers we need to be conversant in JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. Believe it or not, I have been looking forward to this moment, all of the people I know that program have said at some point, “once you know one language, its easier to learn a second.” What they didn’t say…Unless, of course, the second language is old school JavaScript.

Our instructor, being the wise experienced developer he is, wanted us to see what we might run into once we are anointed junior developers and released back into the wild. My first impression…its ugly and confusing. It difficult to make out what the very short very simple program, that he types into the node terminal does. I suddenly have flash backs to college programming classes, where my days were spent looking for a misplaced semi-colon. Ah, but he says, the new JavaScript is better, for those of you lucky enough to work on a newer project you will see something much closer to what you have become accustomed to in Ruby. Amazingly, it does make more sense when you see it. With some understandable differences in syntax, its seems like a tool I might eventually be able to have in my toolbox.

Sitting back, I breath a sigh of relief, once I can program a bit in the new version, perhaps the old version won’t seem so foreign. Just based on how popular JavaScript is, it seems amazing to me that it took so long to make a programmer friendly version of it, but such is the nature of technology.

Tonight we start our short adventure into the syntax and uses of JavaScript with Code Katas (short coding exercises meant to sharpen our skills in logic and syntax for a given language), and reading assignments. One of the best parts about programming in these two languages, right off the bat…all the free tools we get to use to make all our dreams come true. The last I checked, admittedly 20 years ago, the Visual Studio package needed to even think about developing a program was $1000. No kidding. I was given access to a student version from Microsoft for the year I used it, then the access was cut off. No wonder all these other languages have flourished. It will be even more exciting after I have JavaScript under my belt as it gives me the freedom to follow a project from beginning to end, something I will be doing in the next few weeks, culminating in one grand final project to be presented on Demo Day. Who knows, if I keep this up, one day I may be able to call myself a Full Stack Developer. Truly a badge of honor.