Why you should always focus on the basics when starting web development

VueJS. ReactJS. Angular. Bootstrap. Foundation.

Have I spun your head yet with all the frameworks that are out there? If not, then lucky you.

It seems like it’s the wild west with all of the CSS, PHP and JavaScript libraries. It’s very easy to feel overwhelmed by, well, just everything. Heck, even I was at that point not too long ago.

But there’s a good solution to stop feeling overwhelmed by everything. It’s called learning the basics.

Yeah, I know it’s not glamorous or anything, but the basics will give you a good foundation, guide in the right direction when you do learn that hot new framework and, most importantly, they’ll never change drastically.

And in the end, they’ll make everything easier to learn and build.

Gives you a good foundation

Like any skill you want to learn, you first must start with the basics to give you a good foundation. These are the things that you’re going to be using no matter what the future holds. They are the base upon which everything else — tools, more advanced skills, your career — will be built upon in this area of expertise.

The same holds true with web development. Tools come and go. Frameworks are hot one minute and not the next. But the foundations — the basics of CSS, vanilla JavaScript, regular PHP and the like — are for forever. And no matter what’s hot at the moment, those skills are going to make it much easier to learn that new framework.

Staying the course and focused on the basics makes it easier to stay the course and focus on the things that matter. They won’t change, or if they do, it won’t be massive changes, and they’re the things you can always rely on. After all, that’s why they’re the foundations.

Keeps you from getting overwhelmed

In this day and age when a new JavaScript framework comes out every week it seems, it can be pretty easy to feel overwhelmed by what’s going on in the web development world. I went through this when I first tried to start learning Angular, React and Vue. There was so much out there to learn that I didn’t know where to start. And I had been developing sites for five years at that point.

But instead of diving headlong into a framework, I first learned advanced JavaScript. I read “Expert JavaScript” by Mark Daggett over the topic and made sure I understood all of the concepts. I made sure to know what Gulp, Grunt and the like of task managers do. I made sure I understood what Webpack is and how to use it. I became familiar with the concept of compiling code and how import and use components.

Only once I understood the foundation of advanced JavaScript did I try to learn the JavaScript frameworks. The result? I was able to pick up VueJS in under a week. And, while I’ve had trouble learning it due to the concepts and lack of time, I feel confident I could pick up ReactJS fairly quickly as well.

And that’s all because I made sure to focus on the basics before doing anything well. Now, if another hot new framework were to come out, I’d feel confident that I’d be able to pick that up fairly quickly as well.

Will always be with you

But most of all, these are the things that will always stick with you. No matter what job you take, no matter what client you’re building a website for, you will use these basics on everything you do. Sure, you might some fancy tool or that latest framework, but guess what, at the center of it all, they’re also using those same basics.

Having a good understanding of the basics in web development will help troubleshoot problems. It will make problem solving — because that’s what you are, a problem solver — so much quicker and easier. And you’ll know exactly what you’re doing (at least for the most part).

And because of that, you’ll be a much better and happier developer with happier clients and/or bosses. And how is that not a good thing?

So if you’re starting out, learn the basics before you start working with any type of framework or building a large project. And if you’ve been a web developer and haven’t taken the time to learn the basics, do it now.

Everything will be so much better if you did.

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