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2018 is the year I learn JavaScript

I have a confession to make. I don’t really know JavaScript. Some of you, who know my plugins, like WP SmartCrop, Blockade, and WP jSlabify, might say “But that’s some pretty heavy JavaScript!”, but that is where things get complicated. You see, I know math, I know programming, and I know the DOM, inside and out. By knowing those things really well, and treating JavaScript like any other language, I can make pretty cool things! But that’s not the same as knowing JavaScript anymore.

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Over the past few years, JavaScript has evolved very quickly, and in ways that don’t really seem familiar to other languages. JS has always been a strange language, with quirks like hoisting, loose typing, and forced double precision, as well as varying browser implementations. But, as it has grown to dominate the web, new versions, tools, and tropes have been introduced that are very unfamiliar to many programmers.

The traditional, fractured JS landscape is now supplanted by ECMA Script, which provides a standard language, with many new features and syntactic sugars, but also requires a compilation step, to be compatible with all browsers. Frameworks such as React or Vue are now standard fare for managing application states and views, and new templating formats like JSX have become commonplace. Hell, even styling is often handled directly with JavaScript now.

Until recently, WordPress remained relatively sheltered from all of these changes, being mostly built with jQuery and traditional JS, with the only exception being the Media Library, which most developers treat like a black box (for good reason). However, That all changes this year.

This year, WordPress will release the Gutenberg editor, as a first step towards eventually retooling the dashboard into a modern JavaScript-based application. As such, ES6, Babel, React, Webpack, and all the other tropes of new JavaScript development will become crucial for developing rich admin experiences in WordPress. And, as a result, this is the year I’ll be finally learning this new JavaScript.

To start off, I asked my JS Dev friends for a few book suggestions, which I’ve included below. I’ll be reading each of these, this year, starting off with the essential JavaScript: The Good Parts, which is often credited with kicking new life into JavaScript’s corpse, and the open source You Don’t Know JS series of books. Later, I’ll dive deeper into React, Vue, and node, using the trusted O’reilly series. Finally, I’ll do some structured reading on the WordPress REST API, to tie it all back to our favorite CMS.

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If you want to learn along with me, here are links to the books I’m currently planning to attack.

If you have suggestions for others, or against any of these, feel free to leave them in the comments, and I will take the time to review your suggestions.

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