Learning to Code? 4 Reasons You Should Learn JavaScript First



Browse any number of job postings for web developersfront-end, back-end, full-stack; it doesn’t matter — and every single job will require different expertise. From Adobe Creative Suite to Zero Day Exploits, you could spend an entire career attempting to become the ideal developer to meet any one of these job’s multiple requirements.

Or you could learn JavaScript instead.

1. It’s the language of the web.

In an environment where new technologies develop at dizzying speed, it can be hard to devote yourself to any one language or stack. Yet, when it comes to the future of web development, JavaScript is one sure bet — and not just for developers: JavaScript is a major resume boost for anyone who wants to work within arms’ reach of a WiFi-connected laptop.

That’s because JavaScript is quickly becoming the most popular programming language in the world; in the eyes of many, it already is. The language often used to create interactive effects in web browsers, JavaScript interacts with HTML, CSS, and data both on and off the screen to manipulate their appearance, size, number, shape. More importantly, JavaScript offers a way for users to interact with computers in ways that HTML and CSS do not. JavaScript allows browsers to collect user input, load new content without refreshing a page, and improve user experience.

2. It’s a big player in nearly every major website.

Try disabling JavaScript for a day — or even for a minute. Some of the websites you use every day rely heavily on JavaScript to power real-time. Without JavaScript, Twitter doesn’t refresh with new tweets every second. Gmail’s interface looks straight out of the late 1990s. Meanwhile, Spotify, Facebook, and Instagram don’t even load without JavaScript, much less allow you to stream music or instantaneously post comments.

But this native language of the web does much more than enable you to share your latest brunch photos through social media. JavaScript can enable actual applications to communicate with each other, sending data back and forth via application programming interfaces (APIs). APIs are the computer equivalent of sending not merely a brunch snapshot, but a chance to consume the whole meal as well.

3. It can power entire applications — front and back.

Finally, as a scripting language, JavaScript can be used on servers as well as in browsers — offering new programmers and even designers a “gateway drug” to back-end development. Node.js is a lightweight and scalable way to build even the most complex applications in pure JavaScript. Many large companies — including LinkedIn, eBay, PayPal, Netflix, and Medium — power at least portions of their websites with Node.js.

In other words, JavaScript alone will take your career further than any other language if you’re interested in building web applications. The best part is that the JavaScript explosion is still ramping up.

4. It’s just getting started.

These days, modern web applications take a native-app approach to the web: fewer full-page refreshes and fluid, responsive design. The resulting websites, called single-page applications, rely on JavaScript redraw the user interface as interactions occur, without requiring a trip to the server to retrieve HTML. The rise of this trend fueled the development of popular JavaScript frameworks, including Backbone.js, AngularJS, React, and Ember.js — the very names you’ll likely see listed on job posts.

And that’s a good indication of where most web-related careers are headed, too, as web applications increase in complexity, size, and interactivity. Digital marketers, data analysts, content strategists, and designers all benefit from adding JavaScript to their skill sets. Imagine being that digital marketer who can skillfully navigate the code necessary to set up an out-of-page creative in DoubleClick for Publishers without enlisting a developer to translate. Similarly, imagine leveling up your latest slide deck or report with an interactive chart that visualizes your company’s data. These are the skills that will dominate the next decades in the 21st century.

Of course, it’s impossible to predict the future. It’s entirely possible that a not-yet-developed new technology will burst onto the scene this year or next, capturing the development world’s attention — if only for a moment before it fizzles out into the long list of deprecated technologies. Meanwhile, the JavaScript movement isn’t showing any signs of stopping.

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