why learning core JavaScript is still important

June 9, 2017


The big deal now and the last several years with JavaScript is the modern frameworks. The most popular being Angular JS, React JS and Vue JS . It seems like every posting you see for a front-end web developer position wants you to have hard-core experience with one of these frameworks. (Mostly Angular, but some React and Vue JS is kind of the underdog at this point.) One thing you hardly see anymore is a need for the skill of core JavaScript often referred to as "Vanilla" JS and I think this is a complete shame.

History of JavaScript

JavaScript is a really popular now in the web world, but the language is no new kid on the block. In fact, JS was created way back in 1995 by Brendon Eich who was working at Netscape at the time. I remember first writing a little JavaScript back in the late 1990's. I wrote the event handler code that swaps out images when you hover over a menu item. I thought it was so neat and advanced at the time!

I didn't really get into writing much more JavaScript until around 2008 when I started using jQuery. JQ is a modern JavaScript library that was developed by John Resig in 2006 and quickly became the defacto choice to create interactive components such as modal windows, accordions, slideshows, and animations. jQuery helped change the web and modernize it to a great degree. Along with the popularity of AJAX or Asynchronous JavaScript and XML these technologies issued in the "web 2.0" era. I got caught up in the coolness of jQuery and AJAX and didn't focus enough on JavaScript basics during this phase.

Web "3.0"

If AJAX and jQuery were the catalysts for "web 2.0" then JavaScript frameworks such as Angular JS, React JS and Vue JS are advancing the "web 3.0" era. These libraries are so popular that developers are learning and using these frameworks without understanding the basics of JavaScript. Recruiters are so smitten with these hot keywords that they don't care how much core JavaScript experience you have as long as you have "React" or "Angular" on you resume you can have done nothing else and still be a hot target. While I understand and respect hot technologies I think that there should be more respect given to core JavaScript.

Understanding the "core" principles of JavaScript

One of my favorite NBA players in recent years in Tim Duncan who played for the San Antonio Spurs. Shaquille O'Neal nicknamed Duncan the "big fundamental" because he was so steady and fundamentally sound. In order to be a solid JavaScript developer, you need to have the fundamentals down. once you get the fundamentals down you can increase your skills by learning the frameworks. Some examples of javaScript basics are closures, scope, data types, comparison operators, inheritance patterns, hoisting, functions, and using var, let and const in ES6. This is just a tip of the iceberg, but a good resource for learning basic JS fundamentals is www.w3schools.com.

Don't put all of your eggs in one basket

While I know Angular JS and React JS are really hot skills right now I don't think I would just focus on learning and mastering one or the other exclusively. These technologies come and go and the flavor of the month this month, won't necessarily be the flavor of the month next month. Recruiters, please don't exclude someone just because they don't have Angular, React or Node plastered all over their resume. A good JavaScript developer who understands JS fundamentals will be able to adapt and grow with the latest frameworks and libraries.

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