Learning JavaScript

I am trying to find anything to get back to work, and find anything I can to pay the bills. I thought finding a junior web developer position might be a good angle, BUT it seems to be a federal offense if you don’t know JavaScript?! :smirk:

That being said, since I am not being a stud like @RyanReese and the rest of you, how long would it take a mere mortal like me to learn JavaScript?

(Just the language, no libraries or frameworks!)

That’s like asking “how long is a piece of string?”.

Do you already know HTML and CSS? JavaScript interacts with both.

How many other programming languages do you already know? If you already know a programming language then learning another will be quicker. If you already know lots then you can concentrate more on the differences.

How much of it do you need to know? There are parts of JavaScript that serve specific purposes and which you do not necessarily need to know straight away (eg. ajax and canvas).

Not really.

If I asked, “How long would it take me to learn Objective-C?” then it would take considerably longer than JavaScript.

You know I do.

Well, you know I know PHP and MySQL.

Right, and I was asking about the “base package”.

Why would it - JavaScript is probably the more complex of those two languages.

with knowledge of PHP you can probably learn the basics of JavaScript in under an hour and then spend the next ten plus years learning the rest.

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Wow! That is way out there…

I was guessing I could learn the fundamentals of JavaScript in maybe a week with a good book like from SitePoint?

But to learn AJAX and libraries and frameworks, I am guessing that could take 6-12 months to be proficient.


I wasn’t including those in the estimates.

Ajax is just plain JavaScript as are hundreds of different DOM commands, a couple of dozen different built in objects, at least several dozen different ways to create objects, and much much more.

My JavaScript by Example web site currently has over 500 pages and barely gets to an intermediate level with what it covers. All of those pages each cover just one basic to intermediate level plain JavaScript topic except for about ten pages that cover all of jQuery (by referring back to the pages that cover all the plain JavaScript equivalent commands. I currently have plans to add at least 100 more pages without progressing into anything advanced.

Not sure what website you are referring to.

If JavaScript is so voluminous, then where does one begin and end in learning it?

There is no “end” in learning it.

Where to begin? Once you have a grasp for the syntax, datatypes, control logic etc. IMHO the best place to start is with something you want. eg. Cookies, AJAX, etc.

Then do it


Thanks for the link to @felgall’s website.

So should I read it top to bottom?

Certain areas which are better to focus on?

I don’t think there is an answer to these. Because of all the things that JavaScript can do, each project that you work on will most likely have different required aspects resulting in knowledge of different JavaScript methods/functions/etc. Just learn as you go, picking up on this for project A, that for project B, these for project C, and so on.



If you have a good grasp of PHP I think you could get by with skimming through the basics.
No need to postpone your progress by being overly thorough.

Then look for an example of something you are interested in doing and try doing it.
Don’t waste time wallowing in indecisiveness, pick something, anything, and get busy.

One of the good things about JavaScript is that a lot will work fine on your computer without needing a localhost server. Just write the file(s) and open the page in your browser.
* notable exception being AJAX where you would need a server

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Mozilla has collected some of the best learning resources on the Internet and grouped them by Introductory, Intermediate, and Advanced. If you’re looking for something to read top to bottom, I think this is your best bet.


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But there ust be a Top-10 list of things every good JavaScript developer knows. (Things people would expect you to know in an interview or expect to see on a good website.)

I run MAMP locally on my MacBook. Would that allow me to learn AJAX?

That should be more than adequate.

You should work through the basics section first. After that you can mix and match depending on which parts you need.

from my experience that list should start with

  • application/program design
  • good programming practices (error handling, readable and consistent code, etc.)

a programming language is a tool, after all (it’s much like cutting a thread in, if you don’t know how to do it, even the best tools are useless)

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That wasn’t the question.

Sorry if this was already posted, I just skimmed through the replies.

Codeacademy.com - JavaScript course is really good for beginners and fun.
Honestly after learning basic Python/Ruby/HTML/CSS, I absolutely fell in love with JavaScript.

And about the “paying the bills”, i’m in the same exact situation. I’m studying my ass of every day and applying to every single junior web development job possible (no degree at all).
What i’ve learned about success - Anything worth it does not come easy.
Keep your chin up, keep working your ass off. It will pay off.

EDIT: I started programming about 4 months ago. I already know how to build a application from scratch, integrate APIs into a web application, query databases (decently). Just gotta put the hours in and concentrate!

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