Want to learn Javascript? Tommy Campbell explains how.

This post is a little unorthodox. It comes from the DFW Startup Community Slack. It’s a shining example of why the Slack exists, and the value of the community that’s been established. There are over 1,000 people in the Slack now, and many of them are just like Tommy Campbell. You can find Tommy on Twitter: @tcampbelltweets!

Question to #dev-help: “I am wanting to learn some languages and I am looking for a good online source. I know there are a lot out there that range from Udemy to Pluralsight. What recommendations do you all have? I am wanting to start with JavaScript for front end web development and later move to languages for AI.”

Tommy Campbell: Awesome that you want to learn some programming languages! I think the type of resource that will work best for you really depends on what kind of learning style you have. For example, when I’m learning something new, I tend to prefer really interactive tutorials to get that immediate feedback loop. But, others like video tutorials or might prefer gamification of the learning experience. Like most things, it kind of just depends, and I really don’t think there’s one right answer.

That being said, here are the resources (in order) that I used to teach myself JS and why I would recommend them. Take it all with a grain of salt though, because 1) I’m an N of one 2) it sounds like we may learn differently and 3) I am at best a mediocre JS programmer.

1. Codecademy HTML/CSS – If you’re going to be a web developer, something like this is where I would start. I say this because one of the powers of Javascript is that it can manipulate web pages built with HTML and CSS. Therefore, understanding the basics of HTML/CSS is a good idea prior to jumping in to Javascript (IMO).

2. Codecademy JS – I went through the JS track on Codecademy, and it gave me a very broad overview of what Javascript can and can’t do. Very interactive. Pretty straightforward.

3. After the web tutorials, I got my hands on some Javascript books and consumed them from start to finish (all the while coding everything shown in the books). I thought these resources went into greater detail on the ‘why’ of different things in JS/HTML/CSS.

4. As I read the books, I also followed along a comprehensive ebook/tutorial called the Javascript Tutorial. This is probably the most extensive JS resource I’ve seen outside of documentation – meaning it’s a slog. But, if you have the time and energy, it’s a really beneficial resource because of how much it covers.

After these steps, I was able to go out and start learning more about individual JS concepts, which is where the real fun begins.

1) Try not to get caught up in what everyone else is doing or listen too much to what everyone says about ‘things you must do’. Your path will be different from everyone else’s. (Yes, I understand the irony of providing you all this info while at the same time saying not to listen to everyone) :grinning:

2) 1st Corollary to #1 – Don’t chase the popular programming language of the day. The popular programming language of the day will likely not be this time next year. Your best bet is to pick something that has maintained its influence (like plain old Javascript) over time.

3) 2nd Corollary to #1 – Don’t spend too much time figuring out a learning resource. Pick one and go with it. Don’t worry too much about it being ‘the best resource’. As we discussed above, there’s no such thing.

4) Whatever you pick, just start. And keep coding – as much as possible. Learning by doing is often the best way to learn anything, and this is especially true for programming (IMO).

Last thing – I promise. 😀 One of the best resources I’ve used over the years (and I’m sure other programmers can second this) is Stackoverflow. Specifically, each programming language has a ‘summary’ page on Stackoverflow. This summary page has loads of resources and tutorial links. It’s a great place to look when you want to learn something new. Here’s that page for Javascript.

Best of luck! And please DM [on Slack] if you have any questions at all. Can’t promise I’ve got an answer, but I’ll try to point you in the right direction.

Join us on the DFW Startup Community slack! Thanks again Tommy!

  • Michael Sitarzewski is the Publisher of Launch DFW, co-founder and CEO of Epic Playground, Inc., makers of inboundgeo. He is a veteran entrepreneur (and a TechStars Cloud alum) with a specific focus on Web-based software and services. Sitarzewski has been a part of the internet startup culture since 1994 and has had two exits along the way. After a seven years in the Boulder, Colorado startup community, Michael returned to Dallas, Texas, in 2013 where he’s focused on growing and increasing the visibility of the burgeoning Dallas startup community. He is the EIR at The DEC, a mentor in the RevTech accelerator, and leads several events in the Dallas area. Sitarzewski considers helping people understand and leverage technology his life's work.

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