Wednesday, September 18, 2013

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Learning JavaScript in 6 (or 8) weeks: Part 1 Admission

I am going to learn JavaScript. There, I said it. For most of my career I have managed to avoid web technology. Like most people in my field and around my age I grew up with the web. In high school I  dabbled in the world of HTML, CSS and the fledgling JavaScript language. I constantly impressed my friends and family with my (very poorly written and designed) websites.

Once I got into college and started into my computer science curriculum I wanted to learn "real programming". I dove deep into C, Java, Python, and C#. I was writing things in assembly and building compilers. I was a computer scientist! At this point, the only time I ever touched web technologies was to put up a club sports page for my university or to add a link to an assignment demo for a class on my school provided personal web space.

Following graduation I began work as a data warehouse developer. I was writing PL/SQL and constructing ETL diagrams (ZZZzzzzzz...). In my free time I was still dabbling in game development using Java. I eventually moved on to Flash  (via Adobe Flex) where I was tasked with creating dashboards for my company using all that fancy data we had loaded into the data warehouse.

Finally, I hit my stride doing mobile development. Finally I found my calling. A technology I loved and understood. As a native developer on Android and iOS I feel like the master of my domain. There are not strange browser quirks or funky syntax. Java and Objective-C just make sense and I feel comfortable and calm as I work through the application development cycle. The few times I have looked behind the scenes at the work of my companies front end developers I have been scared back to the comfort of my beloved native tools. JavaScript is a strange thing.

Every year I set out a goal for myself.  Last year I started this blog. This year I want to become more comfortable with JavaScript and web development. After a great deal of research I discovered "How to Learn JavaScript Properly". The premise of HTLJSP is that if you follow the instructions laid out on that page you will have a solid foundation of JavaScript proficiency. This does not mean that you will know Backpack.js , Angular.js, or FlavorOfTheMonth.js in a way that you are ready to step onto a development team and get to work. It will however, give me a comfortable understanding of "what I am looking at" and a basis for further expansion of my knowledge.

Web technology today is much more mature that it was when I first began using it as a budding programmer. Where I once saw it as a domain of designers and "fake" programmers during my early college days I now see it as an essential tool for a well rounded developer. Software Development as a profession is constantly evolving and changing. We must constantly train ourselves on new skills.

This is the first post in a 7 (or 8) part series. As I progress along the Learning JavaScript track I will post updates with my thoughts from the perspective I outlined above. Are you a long time web developer with advice or are you a longtime back end programmer looking to move into web technology? Please comment below! 

Check out Part 2: The Basics.
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