Friday, October 11, 2013

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Learning JavaScript In 6 (Or 8) Weeks: Part 2 The Basics

In part one of this series I outlined my goal to learn JavaScript. It has been several weeks since I started on that road and I feel like now is a good time to give my thoughts on what I have learned and the "How to Learn JavaScript Properly" methodology as a whole.

The Resources

The resources that I am using at the recommendation of this course include:  Professional JavaScript for Web Developers, Codecademy, and the JQuery course over at Code School. Overall I think these resources were well recommended. 

The Professional Javascript book is a huge manual. It is somewhat dry, but that is the norm among comprehensive software language books. It is detailed and I have not found any obvious errors when working through the code samples. 

Codecademy is a nice change-up from all of the reading and keying into the console. Unfortunately it is not very challenging or practical. In the curriculum for HTLJSP the author mentions the false sense of accomplishment that one gets from Codecademy. I have found this to be very true. Codecademy made me feel like I really knew the material, but that rarely translated to my own implementations. I should clarify though that my largest issues are with the web fundamentals course that precedes the JavaScript course. 

Code School seems a lot more practical than Codecademy. Sometimes the directions are not completely clear but the code entered and the examples used  feel more real. I do wish they would share the CSS files for the examples (though I understand that this could be a technical limitation) as I feel like it would really help build on my web fundamentals.

The Learning (so far)

As a long time programmer with deep experience in languages like Java and Objective-C I found that I flew through the initial material. There are some things like functions, prototypes, and objects that behave differently than one might expect but whose concepts are still very similar to things I already knew. In fact, I find myself quite liking JQuery and JavaScript. The speed of development is very addicting and  the tie in with the css syntax is very intuitive. The experienced developers I have spoken to who took up JavaScript after doing strongly typed development earlier in their careers feel the same way. JavaScript is a nice language with a lot of freedom. Right now that freedom is kind of scary, but I am getting used to it. 

The Struggles

The course recommends starting out with the web fundamentals course on Codecademy if you do not have a web development background. In my opinion that is just not enough for me. As I enter the project phase of the course I am finding that I know absolutely nothing about the intricacy of web development. The JavaScript and JQuery are really easy compared to manipulating the position of elements in a layout. It is here that Codecademy and Code School really give you this false sense of accomplishment. Who knew it could be that hard to center something?

Over the next few weeks I will begin sharing my progress on the project portion of the curriculum.  Once I have a project base I will post the github link so you can follow and comment on my progress. 
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