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Learning React as an "old" web designer/developer

June 17, 2019Will Leffert

As I've alluded to previously, I'm pretty well seasoned in the web design/dev world. I got my start back when we used tables for layout, and CSS was just a glimmer in the web's eye. So, when I started working towards learning React, as an "old" web designer/developer, I wanted to ensure that I didn't hold on to preconceived notions.

That's number one with any skill, really. Never cling to the old way of doing things.

So, how have I been learning?

When it comes to HTML, CSS, Javascript, PHP and MySQL, I am self-taught. I would look at code, read books on occasion, and sometimes reach out when I was stuck to peeps in IRC (we didn't have Stack Overflow back in the day).

I started working on React the same way, but realized.. Huh. This information I'm reading is already out of date.

Not to mention the fact that some people have some really awkward practices that I knew weren't right. When I first started writing React, I didn't even look at things like Babel. Yes, I'm serious.. I wrote all of my React by hand.

Thankfully, my employer at the time had us hooked up with LinkedIn Learning. So, I picked up on Eve Porcello's videos on Learning React.js.

I learned some stuff, definitely, but it just wasn't sticking with me. Part of it was because of learning styles; I tend to learn best by doing, and there wasn't enough doing in the class. Also, I wasn't quite feeling the style of her teaching in general. She's very knowledgeable, no doubt, so she may work fine for you. For me, I needed to go elsewhere.

After I left my previous employer, I did some digging and watched some random stuff here and there, read some tutorials, and got severely annoyed at the lack of consistency between materials. There are SO MANY WAYS to work in React that it is difficult to really study from a hodge-podge of materials, especially if you learn best by doing.

So, when udemy had a big sale ($10 for each course), I jumped on it. I picked up a few courses, but the one I want to talk about, that I'm in the middle of, is The Complete React Developer Course by Andrew Mead.

It opened a little slow for me, just because I'd already started familiarizing myself with React, but once I got past the stuff I knew, it was fantastic. This has to be the best online video course I've actually used when it comes to studying something. With everything you learn, you're given challenges that you have to complete yourself.. And they are GOOD, practical challenges. Things you might actually do with the knowledge you've gained thus far. His coverage of ES6 is fantastic (seriously, when const/let first came out, I kept thinking back to C++ and other compiled languages). As well, I am IN LOVE with Babel. So much.

So, if they say you can't teach an "old" web designer/developer new tricks, tell them they're wrong. I grew up writing BASIC, and look at me now.