How to Learn JavaScript: A U.S. News Guide

Learning JavaScript gives you access to one of today’s most widely used computer languages. JavaScript is used in projects ranging from developing websites and mobile apps to running back-end internet infrastructure, like servers.

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A text-based programming language, JavaScript is known for making web pages interactive by letting programmers create features operating on both the user side of a page and the back-end server side. The other commonly used languages for web programming, HTML and CSS, give pages their structure and manage style elements. JavaScript works with them by giving pages interactive elements, such as maps and graphics to keep users engaged.

JavaScript was invented in the mid-1990s as a programming language that could run inside a web page and make it interactive, says Kyle Simpson, director of web futures at Getify Solutions, which offers JavaScript workshops. It was developed at Netscape and was similar enough to the Java programming language to appeal to Java developers but was designed to run inside web browsers.

An important distinction about JavaScript is that it is a general-purpose programming language capable of doing much more than just making web pages interactive, Simpson says. It’s used in smartphones, smart TVs and other internet-connected devices. While JavaScript might be the first language many web developers learn, it shares similarities with other languages like C or Java, allowing for the creation of similar if/else statements and function loops.

JavaScript is also used with open-source projects, which means the code and its tools and applications are widely available in free online developers’ communities. This is an especially important resource for people interested in learning the language who may not have much formal programming experience, says Yehuda Katz, co-creator of the Ember JavaScript framework. Open-source resources allow novice programmers to access software tips, tools and chunks of JavaScript code to work with. They also let programmers ask questions about problems and post their code for comment and analysis by the open-source community.

Introductory Training, Tutorials and Online Courses to Start Learning

Once you understand the basic principles of JavaScript, the next challenge as an intermediate programmer is to put everything together into useful code. An advantage of JavaScript is that its syntax is similar to other languages, such as C-based languages or Java. Simpson says this works in two ways: People familiar with other languages can quickly grasp JavaScript’s concepts, and for those new to programming, it serves as a key to help understand other languages.

Experienced programmers should make use of online open-source communities to help expand their skills and to problem-solve, Katz says. If programmers reach a point where they rely on memorized skills and feel as if they’ve plateaued, the next step is to break down those mental barriers by reexamining how the programming tools they learned work and using them in new combinations to solve problems.

A programmer in any language should be able to write a program and have a good understanding of why it works. A programmer who doesn’t truly understand how a language like JavaScript works won’t truly understand why things break. Simpson says programmers spend a lot of time trying to fix coding issues to make things work, and the more they understand about their chosen language, the bigger their toolbox is to fix those problems.

Intermediate Level JavaScript Training, Tutorials and Courses

At its highest levels, programming in any language becomes an art. Much like jazz musicians, skilled programmers take all the skills they’ve memorized and rearrange them into new combinations to solve a problem.

Beginners use their intuition when learning to program because they’re trying to make connections when learning new skills, Katz says. The same thing happens with experienced programmers, except they use the skills they’ve learned to approach problems creatively. Creativity is an important part of advanced programming because it’s about using learned formal concepts as a launch pad for developing new ways of doing things.

“We write programs for ourselves. The computer takes that artifact and does something useful with them, but we’re actually really trying to communicate with each other,” Simpson says. “It’s not just that I can communicate a code idea with somebody from a different (computer) language, but I can communicate an idea about life – a problem that I’m trying to solve – and I can use JavaScript to do that.”

Advanced Level JavaScript Training, Tutorials and Courses

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