06/05 2017

A Journey into React.js

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Let me set the scene - you are a Front End Developer who is so used to building Designs from scratch, and you are good at it. You have already been on similar journeys learning about jQuery, learning about Sass, about npm, bower and all the tools you are now proud to wield as a driven and professional developer.

A new nut you you want to crack is React.js. You think you are capable of understanding it though it looks daunting. It looks like software and you are not a programmer, you are a builder of things, a creative. You got into web design to bring beauty to the Web, not to be ruled by software. Well, I have good news. I have been on this journey too and from what I have found so far, React is trying to help us make things again. It is saying: 'Hey, you build what you want and when you're finished, hook me up and I'll connect you to whatever backend you want.'

OK, it's not exactly like this but with the way the Industry is going, APIs and Javascript Frameworks like React are enabling companies to make software look and above all interact in the way they want. As long as the infrastructure is there and standardised in a way that allows anyone with the right privilages to access that data, the ability to design and build a completely unique experience for the user interacting with that data is limitless.

Hey, you build what you want and when you're finished, hook me up and I'll connect you to whatever backend you want.

Where do I start?

Well, I started on google about three years ago! I looked at a few tutorials and scraped the surface. Reacts own tutorial back then was very straight forward and I still have the files sitting in my experiments folder. I still felt like I wasn't really learning it but after a few month I gave it another try. By now Javascript and ES6 was gaining some leverage and this took over a little in my studies. New names started popping up. Most notably, things like Babel and Webpack came along and React was starting to, well, react to it.

Get stuck in

The only real way to get your head around all these new tools, frameworks and technologies is to source a bloody good book, which is what I have done. I can now look at code like this and understand what every line is doing, why we don't need constructors, how come we don't need to put file extensions on files we are importing etc.

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