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Sacha Greif
Sacha Greif

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Four Reasons Why YOU Should Take the State of JavaScript Survey, Especially If You're a Beginner

I find keeping up with the JavaScript ecosystem quite challenging, and I have over a decade of experience with web development. So I can't imagine what it must be like for newcomers.

At first you think learning to code is just about mastering for loops and functions; but soon enough you hear about front-end frameworks, then bundling and state management, and then it turns out there is a whole 'nother chunk of JavaScript on the back-end; and that's usually when you give up and become a professional sheep farmer instead.

A bunch of sheep

Pictured: JavaScript developers following the latest trend.

So you'd be forgiven for thinking that filling out the State of JavaScript survey is best left to real developers who know what they're doing. But let me see real quick if I can change your mind.

1. You're the Future

The grumpy neck-beard programmer is a tired stereotype, but it does have a grain of truth to it: after years trying to keep up with the churn, many developers can become a bit jaded towards the latest fancy framework.

But you don't have that problem. Your spirit is still young, your hopes still uncrushed. You're the one who will go to bat for the new, better way of doing things without being slowed down by the burden of tradition.

And the reason why this is so important is that the whole point of the survey is to try and anticipate trends to let JavaScript developers know what might be coming down the pipe. Even just knowing which libraries a new developer is aware of is already a fascinating datapoint.

2. You'll Get An Overview of Modern JavaScript

Did you know you can get a crash course in modern JavaScript just by filling out the survey?

Broadly speaking, the survey is split in two main sections: features and libraries. First, the features section contains an overview of recently-added JavaScript language features, and by taking the survey you can quickly see which ones you know and which ones you don't.

Features report card

Your survey report card

You'll even get a handy "report card" at the end of the survey with links to learn more about the features you didn't know about!

The libraries section on the other hand covers things like front-end frameworks, back-end frameworks, testing libraries, and more. If you fill out the entire survey you're guaranteed to at least hear about all the main players in each category, even if you don't actually look them all up.

The Libraries section

3. You'll Be Able to Track Your Progress

Because we save your data from one year to the next, completing the survey every year provides a nice way to track your JavaScript journey.

Although this doesn't currently exist, we soon hope to add a personal dashboard that lets you visualize which features and libraires you've learned over time.

4. You're (Statistically Speaking) More Diverse

It's no secret that programming demographics are a bit skewed towards white men; and this is sadly even more true when it comes to the survey.

State of JS 2020 Gender Breakdown

State of JavaScript 2020 Gender breakdown

It might be tempting to dismiss this with the classic "well nothing is stopping group XYZ from becoming programmers!"; but how will we know if that's true if that group's voice is not even being heard?

Thankfully, there might be a solution, and that solution is YOU! As the last State of CSS survey shows, respondents with less than a year of experience are a far more diverse crowd than their more experienced peers:

State of CSS 2021 Race & Ethnicity vs Experience

State of CSS 2021 Race & Ethnicity vs CSS Experience

Now there's two possible interpretations to this, one good and one bad:

  • People starting to learn programming today are more likely to come from a more diverse background.
  • Newcomers have always been diverse, but the industry makes non-white-men quit after a few years.

So which one is it? Well we don't know yet… but the one thing we DO know is that if you just got into programming and you're part of a minoritized group, your voice is doubly valuable just because you can contribute such a unique point of view.

I Get It Already, Where's That Survey?!

Right this way!

And don't worry: the JavaScript ecosystem might appear messy and confusing right now, but once you have over a decade of experience under your belt like I do… you'll realize it actually is messy and confusing!

Sheep Photo Credit: Andrea Lightfoot on Unsplash

Discussion (10)

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ingosteinke profile image
Ingo Steinke

So I'm probably the grumpy-old-webdev-will-become-shepherd-soon hoping that there really is a diverse young generation and that JS has a future beyond the React era.
Great post, great survey, thanks so much for your effort again!

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jonrandy profile image
Jon Randy

I despair.

I give candidates a simple coding test, and the first thing most of them reach for... is React (even when it is totally inappropriate and over the top for the test). Then, when I tell them I want them to go old school and use plain JS, use actual form submission, and no tooling whatsoever - they fall apart. A good 50-60% of them are totally stumped - no clue.

Something has gone badly wrong

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darkwiiplayer profile image
DarkWiiPlayer

You always read how people need to know the basics, and learning React & al. without knowing JS first is useless, so it's easy to believe that most beginners should know this and actually learn JS first, but somehow they still end up skipping that step despite every. single. post. (and/or tutorial) pointing this out.

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jonrandy profile image
Jon Randy

So, what do we think is wrong? Laziness? Impatience? Poor advice? Poor learning materials? All of the above?

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darkwiiplayer profile image
DarkWiiPlayer

Probably a mix, though I don't think laziness plays as much of a role as impatience. Many people are probably just eager to learnt he technologies that they can be the most productive with and get a job quickly. Getting paid is nice, after all.

But I don't think that many beginners are intentionally ignoring the advise that they should learn to build stuff without high-level abstractions first; there must be some form of "dark matter" sending them on their way in the wrong direction.

Whether this is the fault of tutorials, boot camps, books, or just internet hype, I cannot tell. But I'd sure love to know what it is, if anybody eventually figures it out.

PS: At least we know it's not school teachers; most of those still think that table layouts are the way to go.

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sachagreif profile image
Sacha Greif Author

I would probably fail most coding tests since I haven't had to code up anything in vanilla JS in a long, long time. And to be honest I don't really see the point, if your job is going to involve using a framework then that's what you should be good at. As an example React doesn't involve any DOM manipulation so I'm pretty sure I would fail any task that requires remembering those APIs.

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darkwiiplayer profile image
DarkWiiPlayer

As the last State of CSS survey shows, respondents with less than a year of experience are a far more diverse crowd than their more experienced peers

I wonder if that's because lately a more diverse group of people is starting out in this field, or whether this group just doesn't stick around for as long.

If the latter was true, that would be quite alarming.

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ingosteinke profile image
Ingo Steinke

I wonder if that's because lately a more diverse group of people is starting out in this field, or whether this group just doesn't stick around for as long

Good point! reminds me of Rozita Shojaei's TEDx talk about how she managed to get respect in the male dominated German IT corporate culture, but later decided she had enough of the struggle and became a professional dancer instead.

ted.com/talks/rozita_shojaei_how_i...

A friend of mine used to be an IT professional until he decided to found a tango dancing school. Maybe most of the creative open-minded people will leave information technology sooner or later unless we manage to change what seems to be the mainstream culture.

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fjones profile image
FJones

It's the latter, but not for the reasons you would think. It's not that the sphere isn't welcoming - we try our damndest to get more diversity and encourage every last group to give it a shot.

It is jading, and the attempts to cater to them specifically make it seem like a) there's a reason we have to cater to them and b) we deal with the jading nature better.

That couldn't be further from the truth (heck, the entire space of programming was effectively built on the backs of minorities of various kinds), but people get burnt out a lot more with the implied pressure. That's the common thread through every talk I've had with people who quit: by presupposing their hardships we actually deepen the divide much more than just by organically letting them enter.

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sachagreif profile image
Sacha Greif Author

Bonus reason #5: I'm actually really curious to know what YOU think. Yes, you reading this right now. I've followed your work for a while now and I can honestly say you're one of the people I admire the most online. The survey just wouldn't be the same without your perspective.

I know you've been busy what with the new project, and the family stuff, but if you could take the time I would really appreciate it. And hey, once you're done maybe we could hang out? What are you doing tonight? Maybe catch a movie?

No? No worries, I get it. I should have known someone as busy as you would not be interested right now. I don't mind, I really don't. You're right, it's better if we just stay friends.

Just maybe… think of me while you fill out the survey?