14th Mar. 2017

We built a better JavaScript course

We built a better JavaScript course

Do you know the feeling? When you call a course "Modern JS", and then all of a sudden it becomes five years old and it's definitely... not modern any more.

It was last year, and we needed to build a new JavaScript course. We had been talking about one for years. The need was urgent: JavaScript sits at the hub of the entire range of web development courses that we deliver. Those other courses, to some extent, stand and fall with a good foundational course in JavaScript.

Unfortunately, the old course couldn't just be "freshened up". For better or worse, those five years that had passed since "Modern JS" was created were very interesting years for JavaScript. For an updated course, the focus needed to be completely different. We're talking a revolution here rather than a reform. Throw away and start over.

What happened during those five years?

In short, JavaScript grew up. Node.js established itself as the go-to JavaScript environment outside of the browser. npm became the de facto module system, and is now one of the largest for any language. ES6 (ES2015), the most significant language upgrade ever, was released. All browsers went evergreen and sharpened their JavaScript engines. Much thanks to the growing module ecosystem, developer toolchains — compile, test, lint, bundle, minify — improved, making it easier to maintain consistently high project quality despite the original limitations of the language.

Meanwhile, the old course was still talking about ES5 as "the future"...

That's why we're introducing "JavaScript Foundation".

Why is the new course special?

In software development, we use the unflattering phrase "eating your own dog food" to mean that the development team uses its own software, in-house. A more formal term would be "self-hosting": the software underpins itself. It signals that the team believes in what they are doing, and likes their own product. It's also a great way to find bugs before your users do!

What if a JavaScript course were built that way? The course material for our earlier courses has been a book, something printed with slides and exercises. For this new JavaScript course, it's a web page, with interactive demos and exercises throughout. The course is eating its own dog food; the demos and exercises are all written in JavaScript. Appropriately, JavaScript is leveraging itself in this course, in all ways we can think of.

Should I come to the course even if I know some JavaScript already?


When people came to "Modern JS", the one typical comment was "I know jQuery quite well, but not so much JavaScript". (Which was always a bit funny to me. Not surprising, but funny.) This is the first reason we called the course "JavaScript Foundation": we're all on a learning curve, and that curve starts with becoming familiar with the language itself and the ways it is used in and out of the browser.

The second reason is that the course literally sits at the start of most paths through our web development course tree. Taking our React course? Then "JavaScript Foundation" is a prerequisite. Attending an AngularJS or New Angular course? Ditto. Ember? Ditto. Requiring this dependency order between our courses will make it easier to have participants coming to the framework courses with solid prerequisites, which allows those framework courses to focus more on the framework and less on basics.

If you feel that you already know everything about JavaScript: come to the course anyway, and discover something you didn't know! We feel confident we'll be able to teach you something, regardless of your incoming level of expertise. How do we know? Because at work, this is all we do all day: teach JavaScript and learn JavaScript. We're overjoyed to finally have a course (again) where our enthusiasm for the language comes across.

See you there!

Sign up here.

Carl Mäsak has been fascinated with computers since he was 9 and realized that he could make them do what he told them. He has worked with more dialects of BASIC than he cares to admit, but feels better now. His language of comfort is Perl, although JavaScript is really growing on him. At Edument he works as a teacher, tech lead, consultant, and grumpy old grampa. His chief responsibilities include writing courses, posting image macros on Slack, and telling people to get off his lawn.

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