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Start Simply, Simply Start (ifelse.io)
5 points by markthethomas on Mar 24, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 1 comment

My introduction to programming 2 years ago was Javascript. It was my first programming language (I know, scary). Even though I had hardly any programming background the things I would read about Javascript made me feel like it was kind of a child's language, not really suitable for "real" programmers. Nonetheless I found it fun to play with browser consoles and manipulate the DOM. As a result of this mindset I told myself that if I'm going to learn Javascript then I better know everything about it, at least then I could hold my own in front of people who come from traditional CS backgrounds. This mindset has kept me from being too overwhelmed by everything out there. I resigned myself to the fact that knowing one thing well is better than knowing many things on the surface.

I think it's naive to say that keeping up with the latest technology means just learning the new thing that came out. The key word in that last sentence is "learning" because it seems like anyone that feels overwhelmed by all the things they need to read up on is not really learning anything in the first place. I don't mean that to be condescending or as an experienced developer but I believe the bare minimum of having learned something means you can speak to its strengths and weaknesses.

Sadly the only thing that allows you to experience strengths/weaknesses is working without that newest thing and suffering the problem that the new thing addresses.

While you can learn react through various tutorials, books, and trying to build something with it, that method pales in comparison with someone who has suffered through the pains of doing complex rendering in Angular. The same goes for someone who uses jQuery after suffering the pains of cross browser compatibility in vanilla Javascript. And while it's cool to read about CSS pre processors, you will never love them and know them like someone who had to work with a mess of a CSS file and converted it to Sass.

What I advocate for people starting out is focus on one language, one framework, and a couple crucial libraries for at least 6 months if not a year. The goal of this is to be able to comfortably communicate the strengths and weaknesses of what you know. Learn to be content not knowing the newest thing. You can definitely learn it on your extra time but only on your extra time. It's easy but unprofitable to barely know many things, it's way more difficult but better to know one thing well.

Great article Mark!

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