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  1. #1
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    I'm a designer looking to learn Javascript...advice

    Hi all,
    I'm a web designer with over 15 years of experience. I am a master at Photoshop and web usability, but I don't have a clue on how to write Javascript. Recently, I began the process of looking into higher paying jobs and it seems that knowing Javascript is a hot skill to have to compliment my toolbox. I'd like to look into learning that programming language and was wondering if anyone here had any advice on how to start. With all the various frameworks out there (Jquery, etc), is there really a need to know Javascript or can I just jump into a framework and go from there? Do people really write Java from scratch these days or do they just do a "copy and paste" ?

    I look forward to any advice you have. Thanks.

  2. #2
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy Jeff Mott's Avatar
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  3. #3
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    Do people really use Photoshop these days or do they just do a "copy and paste"…

    Also, it is JavaScript not Java. They are two completely different things. The best way to sound like an idiot is to call JavaScript Java. So avoid looking like a fool when it matters.

    If you want to learn JavaScript there is no short cut than to learn JavaScript NOT jQuery. You shouldn't even look at jQuery. First learn JavaScript in the simplest of forms than perhaps consider jQuery, UI, Dojo,etc . Ideally you should learn some programming fundamentals using a compiled language. The basic fundamentals can be applied to any language and learning something like JAVA or C will only make you better programmer if that is what you would like to do.

    fyi – learning how to copy pasta (script kiddie) isn't going to get you very far despite what you may have heard. Than again there a lot of people on this very forum who love giving work away so who knows…

    As far as JS recommendations go I would say you can't go wrong with Simply JavaScript.

    btw do you know ANY HTML and CSS? Knowledge in those areas is pretty much required if you want to do anything actually useful with JavaScript. If you don't know those than you should *probably* start with them before advancing to JavaScript.

  4. #4
    Mazel tov! bronze trophy kohoutek's Avatar
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    @Jeff Mott's link is really a great resource. Another resource I recommend is this one.

    Like oddz suggested, however, I'd jump into Javascript only if you have a solid understanding of HTML and CSS (and the Document Object Model).

    Speaking of the DOM, I can also recommend Dom Scripting by Jeremy Keith.
    Maleika E. A. | Rockatee | Twitter | Dribbble



  5. #5
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    Very nice resource Jeff, I have not looked though that before, but I think i'm going to have to take some time out tonight and do so.

    I myself have been somewhat stuck on my advancing though the language right now and it looks like there is some good info right there.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by oddz View Post
    If you want to learn JavaScript there is no short cut than to learn JavaScript NOT jQuery. You shouldn't even look at jQuery. First learn JavaScript in the simplest of forms than perhaps consider jQuery, UI, Dojo,etc . Ideally you should learn some programming fundamentals using a compiled language. The basic fundamentals can be applied to any language and learning something like JAVA or C will only make you better programmer if that is what you would like to do.
    Seconded, and probably worded more politely than I could manage.

    Javascript is an interpreted language -- after some 35 years of programming computers, the lesson I've come away with is frameworks in interpreted languages are ALWAYS a mistake, no matter how 'trendy' they end up being. The only thing you can learn that route is how NOT to use the core language. At best, they're a crutch; at worst they're a bandwidth wasting hog destroying page speed. They're not even as useful as training wheels, since at least with those you eventually are taught to lose them -- instead of becoming so reliant upon them it's impossible to work without them.

    Jquery, mootools and their ilk are just another of the idiocies that wouldn't even be needed if people stopped trying to doing stupid animated crap that has no business on websites in the first place, or actually just took the time to learn the underlying language instead.

    Learning a more conventional language as suggested can also help greatly... if you learn the low level concepts first, it helps you make more rational decisions when you get into the goofy toy languages like Javascript or PHP.

  7. #7
    SitePoint Zealot RyanKing1809's Avatar
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  8. #8
    om nom nom nom Stomme poes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oddz
    Ideally you should learn some programming fundamentals using a compiled language.
    Sounds harsh but I agree, *if* you want to understand Javascript. By "understanding" I mean at the level of people like Peter van der Zee, Juriy Zaytsev, Nicholas Zakas, etc.

    But, plenty of people write Javascript, for a living, on web pages, without copy-pasting, who do not understand Javascript. I guess it depends on if Javascript is going to be a complimentary skill (sounds like it is) or if you're actually considering switching to a Javascripting front-ender (esp. interactive-yet-high-speed sites).

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by RyanKing1809 View Post
    Thanks everybody for your feedback!

    I am a webdesigner that specializes in UI/UX. I normally design and code a site, but lately, I've been doing about 99% of my work using Wordpress as a foundation...so i've begun to lose my CSS/XHTML skill along the way. I mean, I don't have the confidence of developing a site from scratch like I used to (sort of like relying on a GPS to navigate and not learning the landmarks along the way. If the batteries in a GPS die, I'm screwed..unless I can read a map).

    It seems that a lot of the hot jobs on the market these days require not only you know how to design a site, but be versed in Javascript. I'm finishing up some of the HTML5/CSS3 classes on lynda.com and then will move on to an 8hr Javascript class! Looking forward to it.

  10. #10
    padawan silver trophybronze trophy markbrown4's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skunker View Post
    Thanks everybody for your feedback!

    I am a webdesigner that specializes in UI/UX. I normally design and code a site, but lately, I've been doing about 99% of my work using Wordpress as a foundation...so i've begun to lose my CSS/XHTML skill along the way. I mean, I don't have the confidence of developing a site from scratch like I used to (sort of like relying on a GPS to navigate and not learning the landmarks along the way. If the batteries in a GPS die, I'm screwed..unless I can read a map).

    It seems that a lot of the hot jobs on the market these days require not only you know how to design a site, but be versed in Javascript. I'm finishing up some of the HTML5/CSS3 classes on lynda.com and then will move on to an 8hr Javascript class! Looking forward to it.
    Here's another good free resource that you might learn something from:
    http://code.google.com/edu/submissio...ss-javascript/

  11. #11
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stomme poes
    But, plenty of people write Javascript, for a living, on web pages, without copy-pasting, who do not understand Javascript.
    Plenty of people write HTML to who don't know what they are doing. So condone it for JavaScript but burn people at the stake for the other. That is a little hypocritical wouldn't you say.

    Quote Originally Posted by deathshadow60
    Jquery, mootools and their ilk are just another of the idiocies that wouldn't even be needed if people stopped trying to doing stupid animated crap that has no business on websites in the first place, or actually just took the time to learn the underlying language instead.
    I tend to disagree. I think the ability to use CSS style selectors is a vast improvement to the language. Also, normalized AJAX and event handling is a significant advantage. jQuery, YUI, mootools wouldn't exist if the language was adequate as is. All those tools make JavaScript more pleasant and efficient to work with. Maybe not worth a few extra bytes to you but to those of use that do deal with features that require JavaScript on a common basis the tools reduce replicate logic, bugs ultimately saving time and ongoing development maintenance cost. To say they are useless and those that are using them are unprofessional is arrogant, naive, short sighted and narrow minded.

  12. #12
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    @skunker

    Don't take what I said about jQuery, YUI, etc as condoning learning those rather than JavaScript itself. I was merely making a debate for using them once a thorough understanding of the language as a whole has been achieved. YOU SHOULD NEVER START BY LEARNING THOSE TOOLS BEFORE JAVASCRIPT.

  13. #13
    om nom nom nom Stomme poes's Avatar
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    Plenty of people write HTML to who don't know what they are doing. So condone it for JavaScript but burn people at the stake for the other.
    I don't condone it; therefore it's not hypocritical. I said there are people doing it. HTML is simple enough that if you don't understand HTML, you will make mistakes any parser/validator will find; your only saving grace is that browsers don't give a rat's. Because of this, the only reason to bother learning to write proper HTML is accessibility reasons, in my opinion.

    If you write Javascript without understanding the difference between a float and an int, you can write valid code that runs. But you may have code that will do weird things in strange edge cases, or you may have redundant code.

    My husband got an e-Book about node.js by some guy who needs a copy editor. The author seems to understand node fine, but his Javascript examples will be wrapping functions around functions when that's unnecessary. I could see why he'd probably do that (unnecessarily worrying about scope and this within setTimeout()) but if he'd had more understanding of Javascript, his (working) code examples would be smaller.

  14. #14
    billycundiff{float:left;} silver trophybronze trophy RyanReese's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Mott View Post
    I spend the entire weekend doing the codecademy websites tutorials. Well thought out and minus a few bugs, it works well and really does teach me things.

    Highly recommend that .
    Twitter-@Ryan_Reese09
    http://www.ryanreese.us -Always looking for web design/development work

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    Robin Nixon's JavaScript Crash Course: Learn JavaScript in 14 Easy Lessons


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