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Show HN: Learn React fundamentals (github.com/tyroprogrammer)
509 points by tyroprogrammer on Feb 1, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 74 comments

One thing I find indispensable when trying to navigate the crazy amount of JavaScript frameworks these days is the RealWorld demo app [1]. It's a spec for an application that is more complex than the standard todo app, and there are implementations of that same app in dozens of frontend stacks. I usually take a look at the code when I'm not sure how to structure something in my code, because the problem was often encountered there and has a sensible solution. By contrast, when I Google around for some design/architecture dilemma when writing frontend JavaScript, the quality of content is terrible and I usually find dozens of alternative solutions, often by people who've obviously used none of them.

[1]: https://github.com/gothinkster/realworld

100% agreed. Personally when learning a new framework, nothing beats seeing real code that serves a real use case.

That's why all of my courses are based on real world examples.

For example in https://buildasaasappwithflask.com/ we build a SAAS app with Flask and cover 50+ web dev concepts along the way. Users, accepting payments, invoicing, testing, etc..

Seems a little light on tests?

So "real world" is an apt description, huh?

Too realistic.

Hey, that's a great project – thanks for sharing!

Just completed the tutorial. Nice exposition. Most of my work with React so far had been modifying existing programs to make small changes in behavior. The tutorial helped to form an overall picture.

What I liked: 1. No grand philosophical statements about functional programming paradigm or how awesome is React. (Most tutorials I have seen spend more ink on these than on the real stuff) 2. Easy way to install the tutorial and validate exercises. 3. Using React to teach React (the tutorial is a React program but this aspect is not emphasized).

My suggestions to the Author: 1. Leverage the fact that the tutorial itself is a React program to go one level deeper. This probably would require its own set of pages, each page emphasizing a different aspect such as Router and other components. It took me a while to appreciate that Components are not only for visual elements but they can also change behavior (example: Router). 2. Use HMR to load only the Solution component so that only that part of the page changes when the reader saves his edits. This will be a great showcase of React's power of applying only delta changes to a page. 3. This is a minor nit: the color of numbers in the tutorial is too close to the color of the background. Please use a different color.

Glad it helped and thanks for the suggestions - will take them into account!

My way of how I learned React:

1. Read the book [1] and type every code of his by hand and create a snippet folder. Stop reading this book around two thirds in when he gets too deep on caching and does not much with React.

2. Read the Facebook Hello World tutorial, type everything by hand again and understand it. Add it to your snippet folder.

3. Try to make your own to do list++ app. You can use Google and Stackoverflow but try to remember things first and don't jump back to the Facebook tutorial and the Road to React book. The app I created was a React app in which you could submit your bookmarks and give it a star rating up to 5 stars, it's a feature that I'd really like in Chrome. Add it to your snippet folder

4. Get started with a real project.

In this approach, I think this website would be a good addition or replacement for step 2.

Expectations and goals for each step:

1. Gives you context and insight (you care about context).

2. Gives you insight while having the context.

3. Transfers this knowledge 'to your fingers' a bit, you just feel the idioms in your fingers a bit more when you're done. I.e. practical experience

4. Deepens the practical experience enough for one to say "I am able to program with React."

[1] https://roadtoreact.com/

[2] https://reactjs.org/docs/hello-world.html

The way I usually do is to work backwords.

Start with a project "real" or easy, learn each step as I need it.

A lot of this is copying and pasting code and then modifying it, and then go back and learn what the "basics" are.

More like 3..1...4...2

So in order to do 3, I will have to look at some of the hello world examples (I know nothing at this point). When I am through I may modify it to make it more ambitious, and then might need another resources. (usually stack overflow).


I wonder if your step 2 at the end and my step 2 are the same. Would you really read the Facebook tutorial after having done a real project? Doing it that way seems like an after thought.

I get 3, 1, 4 though. You first dive in practically, then learn the theory and then immediately start on a real project.

I am trying your approach with regards to 2D and 3D plotting on a canvas element.

Folks might also be interested in my suggested list of resources for learning React [0] and my React/Redux links list [1].

Also, come by the Reactiflux chat channels on Discord! [2] Always plenty of people hanging out happy to answer questions.

[0] http://blog.isquaredsoftware.com/2017/12/blogged-answers-lea...

[1] https://github.com/markerikson/react-redux-links

[2] https://www.reactiflux.com

This looks great.

One of the best books I learnt React when I was starting out was from https://www.fullstackreact.com

I loved the way they broke down concepts and build one on top of the other.

Very cool website. I've been trying to learn react lately and this seems like an easy to use approach.

Heads up though: The first exercise seems to have lowercase/uppercase issue where it expects 01-HelloWorld-solution.js but the file is actually named 01-helloWorld-solution.js. The same is true for the exercise itself 01-helloWorld.js ==> 01-HelloWorld.js.

Once you rename them it seems to work just fine!

Ah the ol' case-insensitive filesystem

Ooh, perfect timing. I'm switching to a team that uses React rather than Vue (which I have more experience with). This'll definitely come in handy.

Im about to do the opposite switch. Any chance you have any good resources for someone new to vue

Vue, Vuex, and Vue-router official document are good enough. Many concepts in Vue are similar or quite simple compared to what you have to know in React. However, I find that Vuex is a little bit more verbose than Redux. You might it troublesome at first but will be better after you are familiar with it.

Agree with other comments that Vue and its companion libraries have much larger API surfaces and have a lot of magic while React's advance techniques can be built upon few basic fundamentals so you need more time to remember those. But I feel that most of APIs are practical solutions to problems you need to fix by yourself in React.

Instead you two should just swap jobs

Ahahaha! I mainly do PHP though, so it probably wouldn't be a good fit. I mainly just fill the gaps in frontend tasks occasionally when needed (but used to do a lot more frontend at my previous job).

Here's something that Swizec Teller wrote after having to use it on a project: https://medium.com/@swizec/some-thoughts-on-vue-after-deploy...

In essence, many things you take for granted do become harder because Vue is modelled after older templating frameworks like Angular, so you're jumping right into DI again and scope separation. It makes it less flexible and simple compared to React. My biggest gripe with it was that for many problems the basic knowledge you have isn't enough, you need Vue-specific solutions (remember the "Angular-way"?). After a while it gets easier.

Someone mentioned here the book Full Stack React [0]. The same team also made a great book for Vue:

Fullstack Vue [1]

[0] https://www.fullstackreact.com/

[1] https://www.fullstack.io/vue/

No resources, but I do have some advice: Don't do it (if it can be helped). I made the switch and jumped into a Vue project at work, and I'm hating every second of it.

Vue is for noobs and back-end developers that don't know any better. There's no reason whatsoever to use it after you're familiar with React. Don't buy into the hype. There's lots of things that are intuitive or easy to learn in React, and have to be researched and memorised in Vue. Being a 'Vue' dev is a constant exercise in rote memorisation and remembering how things behave in certain edge cases.

Let me throw out an example I ran into 2 hours ago. I could do this basically any day of the past 6 months and give you a different example.

Say you need to render a component dynamically based on some data. Maybe you have the name of the component in a string (i.e it's come from a back-end etc) and know the scope it lies in, or maybe you're passed a component as a prop (you see this pattern all the time in higher order components in React, i.e '(Component) => <Component />')

In React, you can simply do the above. If you've been programming in React for a while you probably intuitively know that you can just do (Component) => <Component />, why? Because the JSX transform is trivial, and you can do it in your head.

When you render a component in React, you know that the '<Foo />' transpiles down to React.createElement(Foo). It doesn't matter how Foo enters the scope, whether it's imported at the top of the file (and therefore closured into your function) or comes in as a prop, it'll just work. As long as you're familiar with the Javascript language, you'll know this just works.

In Vue, it's not that simple. Because Vue components are all in this complex templating language, you need to look up how to do even slightly advanced things like this. There's always a 'Vue' way to do it, rather than a 'Javascript' way to do it. Or, as in this case, there's a "refactor your entire component to be a render function" way to do it, almost like an 'escape' to using actual JS, because the Vue templating language just isn't good enough to handle what you want it to do.

And god help you when you need to try and figure out the Vue way of doing something via Google instead of having an expert mentor on your team to help. Forget the official docs, they're garbage. And Vue (as well as React, to be fair) has the same problem PHP had 15 years ago, squillions of noobs have just flooded into the ecosystem and resources like Stack Overflow, chat rooms etc are swarming with "slightly experienced noobs" trying to help people a little bit newer than themselves. The quality of online resources is shockingly low. Even if you're an experienced front-end dev and know all the terminology and how to phrase your questions and search queries, there's no guarantee everyone else does, so you'll have to wade through 50 nonsensical answers to every problem you might run into. It's infuriating, inefficient, and soul sucking.

And, you know what, just in general I'd never recommend anyone switch front-end libraries unless you have literally nothing else to do. As far as your personal learning and career progression goes, it's always best to learn how to do something new. Failing that, it's sometimes good to learn a different way of doing something. But the absolute worst thing you can do is learn a different representation of the same way of doing the same thing. Vue and React are the exact same shit. You're better off learning the inner workings of one of them (try building your own, it's fun!) so you can bring that knowledge to the next trendy crap that comes along, rather than trying to learn all the trendy crap.

I really try to convince myself that this is not a troll comment.

But I can't.


Since somebody downvoted my previous form of comment (probably because of lack of constructive opinion) I'll fix it now:

Calling other programmers noobs doesn't make you a better person by any means.

On one side you're saying that Vue.js is that easy to learn so there's lots of noobs using it, but on the other side you're saying that you need constantly google/look into to docs for help.

Vue documentation is the best introduction to the tool I've ever encountered. Same for the rest of the docs for the Vue's ecosystem - they're written in consistent form, so you can just simply 'jump in' and learn progressively. Even templating language looks like already familiar good old HTML. I was prepared to build production-ready application after a week of messing around with Vue & its documentation.

I can't tell same much good words about React, since after spending a month with it I couldn't figure out how to solve some basic edge-cases (like finding proper way to style components - are you kidding me, React is like 3+ years old, used by thousands of developers and people are still arguing about proper way of styling its components? In Vue you just put it into `<style>` block of Single File Component, or serve generic ones in the global stylesheet file and that's it, simple as that.)

But I think it's just a matter of personal preferences - Vue just suit me better, while React doesn't. I don't like react personally - but I do respect the people who created it and these who uses it on daily basis. Period.

Every developer can choose hers/his tools that suits best, but calling someone because of that a noob is... just unprofessional.

I will take an opportunity and share here a link to one of my notes about the related topic: 'If Vue.js is worth a shot?': https://lukaszkups.net/notes/is-vuejs-worth-a-shot/

enjoy ;)

You style components in React like you always did before. That's the whole thing about it, it never changes what you know. ... Unless you decide using a more modern approach like styled-components et al.

Your complaint is that in order to understand how to do something, you need to learn that thing first? As an experienced React dev, of course you know "intuitively" how to do things in React. As a Vue dev, your examples do not make sense to me.

FWIW I have found the Vue documentation excellent, and there are plenty of resources online to learn as well.

Both React and Vue are great solutions, the approach is just a bit different. This high and mighty attitude of "my thing is great, the other thing sucks" is a detriment to everyone.

You've totally misunderstood the example then. The point is that lots of more advanced concepts in React can be intuitively constructed from the basics. Of course you have to learn something, every tool has an API. That doesn't mean all standardisation and abstraction in the history of computing is pointless because we could all be memorising x86 assembly programming patterns ad nauseum...

And you know what attitude is a detriment to everyone? The attitude that every library in JS land is worthy of praise just for the sole reason of existing. Yeah sure writing libraries is hard, and takes effort, and getting over 9,000 GitHub stars or Twitter follows or whatever the fuck is a great accomplishment, but it's perfectly possible to harm the overall ecosystem by blindly spreading bad abstractions and inferior solutions.

I did not misunderstand it, I don't understand it at all. And I don't expect to. Because I don't know React (nor JSX). Nothing about this is "intuitive" to me (you keep mentioning this word, I don't think it means what you think it does).

There's really a few big choices for a JS framework now (and of course thousands of small ones). Calling fellow developers who use the second most popular JS framework "noobs" doesn't help your case at all.

I don't care about GitHub stars, nor Twitter follows. I do care about a tool which allows me to achieve what I need to achieve. And in the case of front-end development Vue definitely does this, in a simple to understand and performant way. Judging by its popularity many others agree.

And who gets to decide what is and isn't an "inferior solution"? Thankfully not people like you.

What the above poster is getting at is that React allows you to solve complex problems using a few basic principles. Vue has a much wider API "surface area", meaning there are a lot more special cases you need to learn to solve specific problems.

By intuitive he meant that React is mostly vanilla JavaScript, so if you know JavaScript then you know React. Basically when I code in React I never need to open the doc. Even building the most complicated view is straightforward.

With frameworks like Angular (I don't know about Vue), you always keep the doc open in background because you constantly need to look for a function signature, check what's the syntax for something or how this or that works…

As a new JS developer, I found React to be very intuitive as opposed to Vue.js. I remember trying to scour through some mastodon frontend code and it looked much more complicated.

Of course this is anecdata so take it as you will.

> Vue is for noobs and back-end developers that don't know any better.

For this comment alone, I thought I might downvote you but then you did something quite unexpected: you gave me a detailed example of what you mean.

It is quite compelling if this sort of pattern is widespread.

However, I will learn Vue because, unfortunately, I am still a noob. In a sense it is a recommendation.

Totally agree with you. React is just an API which enhances vanilla JavaScript. In React it's possible to use all prior knowledge and practices from other languages, eg functions/objects composition, and decoration.

Vue is different. With it, you can't confidently use your previous programming experience.

<component :is="dynamicComponent"></component>

Oh, you mean you have to invest some time to learn it to be able to use it?

I know you're being a smartass, but yes, actually. Given two tools that do the exact same thing where one requires more specialised knowledge to use than the other, you'd be an idiot to choose the more complex one without receiving any compensation.

It all depends where you come from, for instance if you've ever used Angular, you'll pick up Vue's syntax in one afternoon, it's super simple transition. Also to any backend programmers it will probably feel more familiar than JSX. And I also don't think it's more complex, once you learn to add those few special attributes to html. I work in React mostly but to me Vue's templates are way cleaner than JSX when it comes to writing boolean conditions, you have closing tags instead of ))})}})}} mess and any editor will know to highlight them for you, you don't have to use external libs like classnames to compose css classes elegantly, it's already built in, you can pack js and css in one component without any external libs and hacks. Of course, I'm not saying you're wrong for liking JSX better, it's simply a matter of personal taste and depends heavily on your background.

In fairness, you're comparing a situation where you already know the specialised knowledge to one where you do not. Higher order components are simple in React precisely because you know the framework inside out and you know what a JSX transform does, internally, sight unseen.

That's not particularly intuitive! It just feels that way because you know it well.

> There's always a 'Vue' way to do it, rather than a 'Javascript' way to do it.

I mean, come on. There's a 'React' way to do almost everything too. Want to create an element? No document.createElement for you, you'll be wanting to import ReactDOM, make a class that extends Component (or make a stateless component via a function. Also not intuitive!), then render that component into the DOM.

> No document.createElement for you, you'll be wanting to import ReactDOM, make a class that extends Component (or make a stateless component via a function. Also not intuitive!), then render that component into the DOM.

Yeah but you just described the entire framework. What he's driving at is that React had a very small API surface area, Vue has a much larger one.

This might be the most pathetic comment I've seen on this site yet

your attitude is everything wrong with front end development

You are a noob

Why not just read the doc?

This looks like a lot of fun. I'm currently learning React so I'm excited to dive into this. Thanks for sharing!

No problem! Just remember to create PR/drop suggestions (if any) after you are done with the tutorial.

Most of my work is changing existing react code, this tutorial is great to see a bigger picture. props to you man ;)

Glad it helped.

If a project like this uses Yarn? Is it possible to use it without Yarn?

yes, it is posible, in practice the only difference is that some commands like build, eject, build:markdown you'll have to add the word run.

`yarn build` equals `npm run build`

`yarn eject` equals `npm run eject`

and so on ... except install, start and test which work without run.

`npm install`

`npm start`

`npm test`

There is another difference which is about the .lock file, you can delete yarn yarn.lock and keep the package-lock.json that will be generated after you run npm install.

To understand how this affect you need to understand semver and how the lock file works.

<3 thanks.

I'm pretty sure that with the newer `create-react-app` version 2, it will use Yarn in your project if you have Yarn installed globally on your system. If you do, and you want to keep it there, but use npm in your created app, then add `--use-npm` when creating your project (`npx create-react-app myAppName --use-npm`

Otherwise, if you don't have Yarn installed globally then it uses npm by default in your project.

Yes, just replace

  yarn start 

  npm run start

`npm start` works aswell

It’s the first thing addressed in FAQ

Ahhh i read the 'follow the tutorial' bit and then came back here to comment, I didn't see the FAQ at the bottom.

Please get rid of the hidden menu + hamburger button. It's horrible, horrible UX. Screens are wide enough to show a menu. Esp for teaching, you want all the options and tools freely available.

I think that's debatable. Hiding the content allows the learned to focus on the content at hand. If the user prefers to always be looking at a TOC, they still have that option.

Or maybe it makes sense to show the TOC by default, with the option to hide it. Either way, I'm curious to hear more about your reasoning for why it's so horrible.

You seem to imply that it's always horrible ux. Care to elaborate?

yes that's why teachers keep a giant printout of the textbook next to the whiteboard. except wait, students get to choose whether to look at the textbook open in front of them.quite the flaw in your logic.

Teachers do need everything in front of them because they have to choose what resource is best to explain, students usually need to focus on one thing and learn it well.

Thanks for sharing! This looks great

this looks awesome! will give it a try. Thanks for creating this :)

with package-lock, there are very few reason to use yarn over npm

Im fairly new to Angular 2 and above and wonder why everytime I want to test a new piece of code does the project have to re-build itself. The rebuild takes almost up to five minutes.

I know this is a post about React (which doesn't it run on Node too), but as framework noob wondering why development has become so arduous vs. build it locally & refresh the page.

Also, the npm module stuff .. i mean some rando in the world updates their module and boom breaks the build for millions everywhere. WHAT? How is this efficient and better then prior to all these frameworks that run on Node?

I work on an enterprise react application which hot reloads in <1s and tests re-run automatically when changing a file which impacts them automatically in a similar time. This used to be a large under taking to configure but now with create-react-app this is all out the box stuff and is trivial to set up.

I'm not sure what angular setup you have there but something is very wrong

I recommend you try using HMR mode, a medium sized project takes about 5 seconds to build. The stuff then updates without even needing to refresh the page, you can even store state and scroll position in between the module swapping. It really changes the way I develop a lot.

Not to mention that there are hundreds of authors and packages in most dependency trees, and it's highly unlikely people are doing any kind of audit on all of them and their updates, before letting them be part of their applications.

Really depends on how you are building. If you're building a decent sized project with Webpack and production mode (with minifier stuff), then it might take a few minutes. Dev mode, shouldn't take a ton of time.

Thanks so based on your comment and the other this is modern web development and we accept it.

Building sites in html/css & JavaScript was a better development UX and faster. This constant compiling even quickly is silly and a fourth of my day is spent doing so.

> Building sites in html/css & JavaScript was

This is still building sites in HTML/CSS & JS. You can even use React without Webpack if you want to if you are okay with a different syntax, and want to avoid transpiling at all cost.

If you want to have quick iteration cycles for tweaking CSS, you still cleanly separate your CSS from the rest of your component and use something like Storybook. The CSS changes will be detected and autoreloaded near instantly (sub-second).

But yeah, if you want to build robust interactive elements with syntactic sugar, you will have to bite the bullet and accept a bit slower refresh time (2-5 seconds with HMR on most projects I worked on).

It's because browsers are the target deployment environment, and browsers move pretty slowly (although a lot faster in recent years). So to use modern language features (such as ES6 or Typescript) you have to transpile back to older JS. For many projects, I don't personally think it's worth the tradeoff of tooling setup and dependencies, so I won't use it in those cases. But for decently complex projects it is nice to use modern language features.

Angular 6 and above is pretty fast if you have an SSD and plenty of RAM.

Further you can also split up your project in smaller libraries, build and deploy them to a local npm-repository for faster builds.

Are you using @angular/cli (The ng command line)?

Yes I am... should I not be using ng?

You should be using ng.

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