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JavaScript Developer_ What you need to learn to become an expert

Hello, readers! In this article I am going to light up the topic of becoming a JavaScript developer and raise the question if it is worth learning JavaScript. In the next few minutes you will find the discussion of the prospects of this programming language, list of required skills and expert’s points of view. Below you will read my personal mind about the feasibility of learning JavaScript, about the situation on the labor market. Comments from industry-renowned experts will help you understand if learning JavaScript is worth it, if there is a chance of getting a job, and if the knowledge gained will not become obsolete any time soon.

An excursion into the theory: what is JavaScript

JavaScript ranks among the most popular programming languages, and front-end development is considered one of the easiest ways to start an IT career.

JavaScript (JS) is a high-level programming language that supports imperative, functional, event-driven, and other approaches. It refers to languages with dynamic typing, is also included in the group of interpreted languages.

The main features of JS include:

  • Dynamic typing – the data type is determined at the time of assigning a value to a constant or variable.
  • Interpreted language – application code is interpreted when accessed, no precompilation is required.
  • Functions as objects of the first class, that is, functions in JavaScript can be returned from functions, passed as parameters to other functions, and assigned to variables.
  • Support of prototype and object-oriented approach.
  • Versatility – All popular browsers support JavaScript.
  • ES6, a modern JavaScript specification, supports arrow function syntax, destruction, spread and rest operators, modules and classes.

These and other tools make JavaScript a flexible and expressive programming language.

An important feature of JavaScript is its well-developed infrastructure. A large community has formed around this programming language. Powerful tools are available to developers, for example:

  • Libraries and frameworks for building applications (React, Vue).
  • Collectors (Webpack, Gulp).
  • Supporting libraries (Lodash, Underscore).
  • Static site generators (Gatsby.js, Next.js).
  • JavaScript Applications

JavaScript is primarily used in front-end development. This language, along with HTML and CSS, is included in the basic front-end toolbox. JavaScript is used to create applications that run in the browser on the client side. They provide interactivity for sites. For example, when a user fills out a form and clicks the Subscribe button, the immediate response is usually provided by JavaScript code.

JavaScript is not limited to browsers and web applications. Using this language, the following tasks are solved:

  • Development of native applications. For example, applications for Android and iOS are created using the React Native framework.
  • Server development. Node.js is used for backend development. We have a separate article about this area.
  • Development of desktop applications. JS is used in office suites Microsoft and OpenOffice, in Adobe applications.
  • Programming of equipment and household appliances, for example, payment terminals, set-top boxes.

JavaScript’s popularity, rating and prospects

As noted above, JavaScript ranks among the most popular programming languages. In July 2020, JS is ranked seventh in the TIOBE index, which is compiled based on search query statistics. This language is more popular than PHP, Swift, Ruby, Go.

JavaScript ranked first in terms of the number of pull requests on GitHub in Q2 2020. This data is calculated by the GitHut resource.

Like PHP, JavaScript can be considered one of the ways to get into development quickly. JavaScript programmers are hired by web studios, which are located both in the largest cities and in the regions.

Experts talk about the future of JavaScript in detail in the comments below. There are two points worth paying attention to.

First, as noted above, JavaScript provides interactivity for sites and is used in popular modern browsers. These tasks can be solved using alternative technologies, for example, WebAssembly, but this is not a question of the short term. In the near future, JS is likely to remain the main programming language for front-end applications.

Second point: at the moment, the popularity of progressive web applications (PWA, progressive web apps) is growing. This technology is actively promoted by Google. Progressive Web Apps are a hybrid of a website and a mobile app. In the medium term, PWAs have a good chance of gaining a significant market share from native apps.

JavaScript is used for PWA development. For example, sites built with the Gatsby.js generator support the functionality of a progressive web app out of the box. This is another plus in favor of the demand for JS in the near future.

What are the prospects for a JS developer in the labor market?

The demand in the JavaScript developer labor market greatly exceeds the supply, therefore there are good salaries. Companies are looking for developers of all levels, including beginners.

Why should a developer pay attention to this language?

  • The amount of information that can be found on the Internet;
  • Developed ecosystem in the form of a huge number of libraries and development tools;
  • Very good community;
  • One language is enough to write web applications, mobile applications, servers, and more;
  • High demand in the labor market;

What to learn to become an expert in JavaScript?

Well, first you need to understand what environment you are going to write in:

– as a front-end developer for a browser?

– as a back-end developer for a NodeJS server?

In either case, you need to know the core of the language and its standard library.

For a server, you need to know how to work with databases, have an idea of the HTTP protocol as a way to communicate with the client side, be able to confidently work with npm (a package manager for NodeJS), know about unit testing.

For a browser, you need to understand the features of different browser engines, you need to be able to typeset, have an idea of the specifics of the browser environment in general (host objects, browser capabilities like local / session storages).

It is very important to be able to work with tools: with IDE, with dev-tools in browsers, with a debugger.

You have also to understand version control systems (git), be sure to read about algorithms and data structures in order to have at least a general idea, learn about approaches in the organization of development (agiles, scrum, that’s all – especially important if you are aiming at work in any large outsourcing company).

And yes, English. Lots of English. A lot of English. Because all the most relevant information is in English – articles, books, videos. Because in English 90% of the entire labor market of a programmer in our realities. Because English is your decisive advantage over candidates without it.

What else is important in learning?

  • Familiarity with libraries and frameworks


The most notable JavaScript frameworks today are AngularJS, React.js and Ember. Of course, there are a number of others.

As web applications get bigger and bigger, these libraries make it easier to work with them. It should be understood that knowing jQuery alone is clearly not enough now. In most vacancies, knowledge of additional javascript libraries is exhibited as a basic requirement.

  • Node.js


Node.js is definitely in a solid position. Almost any front-end tool is built on node.js and uses npm (node package manager), if you are unfamiliar with it, I strongly advise you to correct this omission. Since node.js uses JavaScript, learning it is not particularly difficult for those who are already familiar with this language. It will take you more time to configure node packages than to write the actual code.

Personally, I think that every developer in 2020 should be familiar with Node. I’m not talking about deep knowledge, it is enough to be able to apply it for server development, prototyping, testing, etc.

There is also one thing called IO.js, today it is almost analogous with Node, and in the end you just write in JavaScript with the exception of minor differences.

  • Testing


Once upon a time, we did not test JavaScript code at all, since we did not consider it necessary. But scripting is getting bigger and bigger thanks to AngularJS and Node.js.

JavaScript is evolving, and scripting volumes are increasing, and testing becomes vital. If you don’t test your code, then you are doing wrong. My favorite tester is Karma. There are others, but this one has proven itself the best when working with AngularJS. And if it works for AngularJS, then it works for me.

  • Tools

Being a JavaScript developer means not only excellent knowledge of the language, but also numerous tools for working with it.

Sometimes the tools include the browser itself that we are using. And sometimes you have to turn to third-party tools to get a deeper analysis of the situation.

Here are a bunch of tools to keep in mind: Gulp, Webpack, and BabelJS. There are many more tools out there, but tools like Gulp and Grunt help you a lot in developing and managing JavaScript applications.

The days when you just downloaded a JavaScript file and added it to your page are gone. We are now using NPM or Bower package managers.

We combine and minify scripts, test them, which helps to organize the project structure.

JavaScript tools go hand in hand when developing isomorphic JavaScript (code used on both the client and server side).

Most of the ECMAScript 6 functionality has yet to be implemented by browsers. But today you can use ES6 innovations with JavaScript compilers. Get familiar with new APIs and methods: strings, arrays, and other methods like WeakMaps, Symbols, and Classes. You should always be aware of upcoming changes.

Conclusion

To sum up, judging by the size of this article, you can imagine how much a JavaScript developer needs to know. We’ve just touched the tip of the iceberg. Don’t feel like reading this article as a developer guide. This is just my personal vision of the problem. Thank you for being here and good luck on your programming path!

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