And all of that means one thing for new developers. That it's getting harder to learn. There are new API's getting added to the specification around the clock and there are old ones getting removed equally as fast. Staying up to date is no longer as simple as reading a single blog post online. Though I thank you for it.
3. Setup your development environment
We have cross-platform and lightweight coding editors now that can double check your code and highlight any potential issues. At a minimum, you should be coding in something like VSCode. For one, it's free. And secondly, the customization of VSCode is impressive. You can pretty much customize the editor to match any criteria that you might have.
And lastly (in terms of software), you should set up Github. You might not be ready to start publishing your own open-source projects for the world to see just yet, and that's totally fine. But being able to clone someone else's project, whether an example or a framework, is a common-enough scenario that you will need to know the basics.
I also include learning material in this category. Since I went to college for Computer Science, I pretty much still make textbooks my de facto standard for learning. For one, most books are typically ordered very well, meaning I don't have to guess as to where to go next. And secondly, you can pass them on once you are done with them.
2. Focus on the basics
- Variable declaration
- Function declaration
- Arrays and Objects
- Conditional statements
- Looping mechanisms
There's alot more, of course. But without these 5, you won't get anywhere because everything else essentially relies on these things.
You might think that these are simple and straightforward concepts that you can pick up in a few hours of reading online. But I assure you, there's more than enough content here to keep you busy for a while. There are many levels to even the most foundational parts of any programming language.
Let's take variable declarations as an example. Something like the following:
var name = 'steve';
var age = 30;
That's as much thought as most people will give to variable declaration. For the most part, it's pretty straightforward. You type var, followed by the name, followed by the value. Now let's introduce scope to the equation.
var name = 'amy';
let local = 123;
const pi = 3.14;
pi = 5; // error
console.log(local); // undefined
With the ES6 variable scope declarations (var, let and const), you can control where any given variable can be used. var, for example, defines a global variable which can be used anywhere in a given script. Nothing has changed there. But let and const, both only declare variables in their given scope, meaning their given function or other block.
Continuing with variable declaration, as of ES6, you can also incorporate the destructuring assignment in order to extract values from a given array or object and to assign those values to a given named variable.
As I said above, there are many levels to the basics and it's in knowing those that inevitably make the whole learning process much easier.
1. Ignore everything else
You don't need to know the entire list in order to be a proficient programmer. You might never encounter most of these ever in your career. So don't worry about reading the full documentation page on each and every one.
You should let the project that you are working on determine just how much knowledge you need on any particular language feature. By that I mean, if you need to verify an address for example in a form, then knowing how the Geolocation API works will be beneficial, but not really before then.
Walter Guevara is a software engineer, startup founder and currently teaches programming for a coding bootcamp. He is currently building things that don't yet exist.
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