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How to be a Front-End Superstar

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Hi! I'm Mackenzie, a web dev dedicated to getting better any way I can. I want to start of 2018 with a bang, so I'm here to ask for help with that!

What are your favorite go-tos for front end development? Cheat sheets, references, a solid piece of documentation-- I want to know how a senior dev pursues a problem and fixes it.

I'm looking for anything from a description of a thought process to a list of resources that you've found helpful in your work!

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I highly recommend studying the works of Edward Tufte and, if you can, attending one of the workshops he does from time to time. I've found his ideas on visualizing information very useful when designing various web apps, especially single page ones meant for visualizing information. His critiques of PowerPoint are also helpful when it comes time to do presentations to users.

As for the day-to-day, nuts-and-bolts, any good reference on HTML5 and CSS3 will be useful. There are a lot around. You'll probably also want to grab ones on Bootstrap, Javascript, Typescript and whatever front-end framework you want to use (Angular, React, etc.). Stack Overflow is also helpful at times although the high levels of trolling and general rudeness there can make it unpleasant to participate actively there.

 

I recently read a book called Pragmatic Thinking and Learning. This really applies to any learning, but the book is definitely focused on developers. In short, this book talks about how to learn effectively and to move from a beginner to an expert level.

As it pertains to your question, the answer in the book is that experts usually work from instinct rather than a set of rules. This requires experience, but this book is a good roadmap.

 

I might give that book a try! I've re-learned myself how to learn and it's been the best investment I could have given myself. Some extra guidance wouldn't hurt.

 

I'm a huge fan of paid courses. I know there's nothing you can't learn for free on da interweb, but the structure and quality some paid courses bring are hard to find on Youtube. I'm a big fan of Wes Bos his video's because he's a great teacher. I also gave myself an egghead.io subscription.

I guess over the years I've slowly shifted from learning everything for free through blogposts and articles to approaching topics in a more structured way and paying for that if I think it's worth it.

What would you like to learn, are there any specific subjects you have a bigger interest in?

 

I recommend Wes's JS30 challenge to all my students! Love it.

Right now I'm digging in deep with React. I'm not as good as I'd like to be, especially when we pull in asynchronous redux...

 

Awesome! His paid courses are also worth the money, especially the ES6 one.

I'm also into the React rabbit hole. I decided to re-do a beginners course and get some fundamental understanding of the concept and after that I want to wrap my head around the whole redux / flux concept as well. Two amazing free resources I came across are the reactenlightement book and Kent C Dodds Beginners guide to React (especially the first 10 lessons). Maybe these are things you already know by heart, but I definitely noticed I missed some details the first time I started building with React!

 

I haven't maintained this list in a while but I gave this list to some of my team members last year, resources.iamdeveloper.com. If the link isn't working, the forwarding hasn't kicked in yet and you can go directly to gist.github.com/nickytonline/5cf16.... One of my favourites on the list is still es6katas.org.

 

For me, breadth of knowledge is more important than depth as I start working on a problem.

My thinking is that lots of different perspectives and a wide range of experience helps me pattern-match the shape of the problem — "oh, this is kinda like that thing and this other thing put together" — and make the right choice when deciding how to approach a solution.

The specifics come later, which is when I would try to build some depth in the solution space.

I have a front-end reading list on my website which has a whole range of talks and articles that hopefully help with breadth and depth. It's made of resources that I found I kept coming back to.

Specifically, I think it's really important that to have some experience with static types, functional code, immutability, and a few different async primitives like Promises and queues.

 
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Mackenzie Clark profile image
I like coding, knitting, and board games. I think every office should have an office cat.