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Learning JavaScript


Learning JavaScript - Cover

Last November I was approached by Pearson Education to write a beginner-level textbook about JavaScript. To that point I had been writing mostly articles and blog posts and when the opportunity came to write something of real length I jumped all over it. So, in January of 2012 I went to Staples, bought a serious desk, and started writing (glass-top, L-shaped… it’s excellent. Sidenote: there’s apparently a difference between L shaped and corner desks).

This book is guaranteed to:

  • Teach you JavaScript
  • Help you take a more holistic approach to development
  • Have more Paul Newman references than any other JavaScript book on the market

As primarily a CSS guy I wanted to tackle JavaScript from a different angle than you see in most beginner-level JavaScript books. Almost every JS book I had read to that point taught me everything about JavaScript (whether I needed it or not) and by the end my head was full of 25% useful tidbits and 75% garbage that I never used in real-life development. They showed me everything JavaScript could do but never the situation in which to use each technique, and especially never when using another technology (like CSS) is the better choice. Unfortunately, you don’t find that out until long after you’ve already sunk days/weeks into reading a book.

Learning that way allowed me to get frustrated, note the gaps in the teaching method and develop my own version that could address all the problems. Picture me ripping a textbook in half in a fit of rage when I found out that I didn’t need intricate knowledge of 5 different types of JavaScript loops – an epic sight for sure. Enter: Learning JavaScript.

What I really liked about the writing process is that Pearson didn’t tie my hands in anyway with the content. I was able to write a conversational-style book, make fun of stuff, insert the names of my friends in code samples and pack it with information while still organizing the chapters in the way that I felt the topic should be taught. The only real guidance from the publisher was: “write it as if you were sitting next to someone and teaching them JavaScript.”

My goal for the book wasn’t to make the reader a great JavaScript developer, it was to produce someone who went into the book a little green and came out a stronger overall developer because of the experience; and guide them towards a favorable direction by the end. This allowed me to veer off the typical boring path of, “this is how you do this with JavaScript,” and focus on a more goal-oriented style of development and learning. I wasn’t sitting there checking topics off a list as I furiously typed and smoke rose up from my fingers.

Focusing on goals rather than 100% JavaScript allowed me to bring up common mental pitfalls in overusing the language and addressing a true separation between style and behavior by suggesting development points that lend better to a combination of CSS & JavaScript rather than pure JavaScript (Remember progressive enhancement? It still applies).

You should totally buy my book. It came out August 5th and is being translated into Korean and Indian English (whatever that means).

Also, it’s printed on recycled paper, so +1 earth.

Author Tim Wright

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