Even if you haven’t watched the 2015 State of the Word address, there’s one takeaway that everyone is talking about:
The new WordPress.com user interface Calypso was already a sign of things to come.
Therefore, it’s easy to feel either afraid of falling behind or overwhelmed at the prospect of branching out to another programming language.
Even the Automattic team, who have been at the forefront of this development, stated to have found the shift challenging.
Sounds good? Cool, then let’s hear the homework assignment once more before we dive into it.
Compare this to PHP, where for every operation your site will send requests to the server, which then spits out new information.
In fact, today it helps power many high-profile sites like Facebook, Google, YouTube, Amazon, LinkedIn, Pinterest and more.
As you can see, as a web professional there were many good reasons to get into this area, even before WordPress shifted towards its direction.
However, the platform and the programming language aren’t exactly strangers to begin with.
Particularly in the theme customizer, but also whenever you drag and drop widgets into a widgetized area, the language has a role to play.
So, the recent development is not a complete overhaul or restart, but just an intensification of things that are already happening.
The following learning resources offer a structured approach for anyone interested in having a go at the programming language.
Yes, you read the name right. No, it’s not talking about people who love coding and also play jazz but of animals of the feline variety. Well, at least it pretends to.
Everything is explained with concrete examples in animated form that — naturally — are all cat related. However, that facts makes them oddly memorable.
Overall, it’s a really good starter resource that you can easily consume in two to three hours.
Freely available online, it can also be downloaded as a PDF or epub file and even purchased from Amazon in both in electronic and paper form.
By following along in your browser, you also get access to live code and example projects.
- Introduction to the language
- Understanding how it works within the browser
- An introduction to Node.js
Superhero.js is not so much a resource itself, but a collection of other excellent learning material run by five experienced developers.
The site is continuously updated and covers everything from the very basics to code organization, testing, tools, performance, safety, and more.
Also, everything is presented in an awesome pop art design which in itself is worth a visit.
The guides offer two different learning paths, one for beginners and one for experienced developers. Both take six to eight weeks to finish.
Again, the guides are not a self-contained learning resource but rather a collection of existing offers on the net including video courses and coding websites.
However, having it put together by experts will save you tons of research and allow you to get started right away.
These include code style, patterns, useful tools, news, reading material, podcasts, who to follow in the community and other resources.
The approach of CodeAcademy is quite different than that of the other items on this list.
You learn through typing out simple examples functions and seeing their effects in real time. The lessons are followed by quizzes that reinforce the learned material.
While there are Pro features available, the basic course is free and with a length of 10 hours offers a lot of value. Definitely worth checking out.
W3Schools is a well-known name in the web development sphere. I myself often land on their pages when looking for CSS solutions.
While you can always look at the code behind the scenes, it is not quite suitable for those starting from absolute zero. The tutorial is clearly aimed at people with some amount of background knowledge.
Overall, it is quite technical and aimed at people who can deal with more jargon. Yet, that doesn’t mean beginners won’t find their way around.
Just pick your level and follow along, you will learn a lot.
Though we are talking about a programming language for web development, that doesn’t mean everything about it has to be online.
While there are more out there, I am only mentioning two here because they are the ones I saw recommended over and over again.
For a condensed approach to JS, this is the way to go.
In over 1000 pages it dives deep into pretty much every aspect of the programming language.
While the guide is written like a tutorial, it is not so much meant to be read from front to back than used as a reference guide and should be on every programmer’s book shelf.
If you are looking for additional reading material, this collection is going to be your best friend.
Should this blog post prove to not have enough material for you, this is where you will find your next read.
While reading is all good and proper, some people actually have to see someone else do something in order to proberly learn it.
If that sounds like you, we’ve got you covered. In the following you will find at a number of learning resources in video form.
Be aware, however, that many of them aren’t free, yet there’s a lot of good quality here.
Treehouse is a premium provider of video training for developers.
Plus, the video quality is really good, so much so that I’m actually thinking about signing up to their service.
While they have some free videos, most of them are only available for paid memberships that start at $25/month.
I have seen the Frontend Masters courses recommended several times by people in the WordPress community.
Their seminars can be filtered for beginners, intermediate and advanced users, by popular courses and most intriguingly — “designers learning code.”
While there are free previews, access to the entire content is $30/month.
The website has lots of free material, however, unfortunately it is not very structured. Therefore, DevFreeCasts can rather take a supplementary role than function as a complete resource.
Environments, Frameworks, Libraries And Other Advanced Stuff
We will quickly go over some of the frameworks, environments and more that you will most likely encounter and then list a bunch of starter resources for each of them.
- Backbone.js – The name of the oldest JS framework. It has been part of WordPress Core for a while and is also being used by a number of themes out there.
LearnCode.academy produces YouTube tutorials on all things code and front end. They offer a wide range of introductory and very advanced videos including this series on Node.js:
On the topic of Backbone.js and WordPress, we also have a handful of excellent resources:
- Using Backbone Within the WordPress Admin: The Back End – A TutsPlus tutorial that explains how to employ Backbone.js inside a WordPress plugin.
- Building a Front-end WordPress Theme – Trevan Hetzel’s forage into building a WordPress theme with Backbone.
It seems a lot of folks have been giving Angular and the WP REST API a whirl. Here are just a few examples:
- Building Themes with AngularJS and WP REST API
- Use AngularJS as WordPress Frontend
- Experiences Building a Website with AngularJS + WP-API (WordPress API)
On React, we have React for Everyone by LevelUpTuts. It’s a tutorial series available for free on YouTube. The quality is excellent, as you can see from the video below.
However, they only started uploading the tutorials last November so it’s still a work in progress, yet with high potential.
I have to say, this one is probably my favorite thing on the entire list.
Once you have progressed in your skill far enough, Codewars is waiting to become you own private coding dojo.
Gamification elements allow you to earn ranks and titles to keep motivation high and you can learn from other people’s solutions.
Yet, be aware that in order to enter the website at all you first need to solve a challenge in your chosen language, so it’s not suitable for beginners.
The channel features many different guests and covers a wide range of topics including business skills for developers.
Another podcast, however, this one is relatively new. So far only 13 episodes are available.
They also occasional broadcast live from conventions and run a similar channel for AngularJS.
Check the archives (dating all the way back to 2010) for past editions and to get an impression on what it has to offer.
As the name suggests, here we have a podcast specifically for Node.js and front end developers. Besides online, you can find its almost 100 episodes also on iTunes and via RSS.
Each edition is between 30 and 60 minutes long and concentrates on one topic such as the Node Package Manager, Node 5.0, modules and more.
Especially front end designers would do well to jump on the bandwagon early and dive deep into the material.
Loads of resources, many of them free, are just waiting to give you a leg up, including standalone courses, books, video seminars, podcasts and more.
If you still haven’t had enough, look into our other articles on the topic. See you in class.