First off, I suppose I should introduce myself. I'm Ryan. No one cares about this stuff so I'll keep it short, but basically, I am a 7th-grade teacher looking to become a developer. I've wanted to get more hooked into the community because I am self-taught. That's been difficult to do since I have a family and another full-time job. There isn't much time to go out into the world and find people face to face. So, here I am!
It's a clickbait title in many ways, but in reality, as someone who is self-taught (essentially all within the last year or so) there are already things I look back on and think, "That was a huge waste." At the same time, I think it also made me better as a developer. Maybe I just need to work through some internal issues I have with the time I spent on these aspects of developing, but here are the things I found to be...not so useful given the amount of time I spent learning them.
I remember spending something like 2 weeks doing all sorts of Gulp related tutorials on Treehouse.com. Have I ever used it? Nope. In fact, I think the only thing I actually got out of it was a few good laughs and relatability when listening to an episode of Syntax.fm when they were discussing it as something not really around anymore.
What can I take away from those weeks learning Gulp? It was good when it came around and it was an important stepping stone to other build tools that are more useful now, like Webpack. I can take away the lesson all developers know - things are constantly changing.
I'm sure if there were a significant number of people reading this I would upset many people, but it seems for anyone building a modern web app these days, you wouldn't be reaching for jQuery. It seems like the vast majority of the jQuery features are now baked into vanilla JS, and I honestly think that even if it's easier to use jQuery, the better option is still to use vanilla JS.
That being said, I think it HAS made me a better developer to know how jQuery works because it's still everywhere. It's nice knowing the basics and being able to pick up a lot of API's that seem to be based on it, or function in a similar fashion. For example, a friend of mine was building his personal website using Wix, and he wanted some feature where there was text fading in and out. Easy enough. In to the Wix API I go (finding they don't just let you edit CSS directly...at all...) and I find it's structured very much like jQuery. So, that was a time having knowledge of jQuery was nice.
It's everywhere. It makes the web all look the same. It's a pain to customize. Maybe my biggest waste of time. I would say learning Bootstrap was perhaps the biggest waste because it distracted me from spending time learning much better things that were already available, such as flexbox and grid. It also delayed me from learning how to simply set up my own naming conventions and create my own themes or layouts using good ole' CSS.
Why I am happy I learned this? Good question. Perhaps because the whole column system is still around many places, or perhaps just to get better ideas of how to name CSS classes for larger projects.
I suppose the main point of writing this is to look back and reflect on some of the things I have learned. Sure, maybe most of the time I find those things unapplicable to what I choose to do now, but it's helpful to realize that there are still applications where the knowledge of gulp, jquery, or bootstrap actually could benefit me. Maybe you stumble across this post and you're also just getting started with coding. Should you skip over these if you're blazing through the freecodecamp curriculum like I was? Maybe. Or maybe you should just know ahead of time it's not something you need to become a master at.
If there is one thing I know as a "developing developer," it's that you are always learning new things and putting aside other things you've learned. I've been doing this a year and that's already very well established. You need to have a growth mindset (as we say in teaching land) and a lot of grit. Looking back on my "useless learnings" has just taught me to continue learning even more. Every once in a while you might realize you spent time learning something that you don't use that often (or ever), but if you find yourself in that space, you can always look for the positives in how learning without using can make you a more resilient developer in the long run.