Why You Should Learn React First

Last modified
September 22, 2020
Time to read
2 min read

Photo by Joseph Ashraf

Table of Contents

Learn React First

First off, realize this is an unpopular opinion.

The popular opinion would be to say:

You should focus on learning the fundamentals—HTML, CSS, and vanilla JavaScript—before trying to pick up something like React.

While there is nothing wrong with learning the fundamentals first per se, I believe if your goal is to get up and running as quickly as possible, I think you should learn React first.

Why?

By learning React, you are learning HTML and JavaScript in one fell swoop.

JSX is React's way of templating UI components. By learning JSX, you are also effectively learning HTML because the syntax is almost identical.

function Title() {
  return <h1>This h1 tag looks a lot like HTML!</h1>;
}

Also, React is JavaScript. So by learning React, you are also learning plain ol' JavaScript.

// This function is regular JavaScript syntax
function Title() {
  return <h1>By learning React, you are also learning JavaScript!</h1>;
}

A lot of developers are turning to React for complex UI development. By learning React first, I think you'll be able to start building interesting projects sooner.

Keep in mind, there's nothing wrong with learning the fundamentals first—especially if it makes more sense to you.

In my experience, I tried learning the fundamentals first—but I didn't feel like things were clicking until I started using React.

Remember, you can always go back and learn traditional web development patterns as needed.

What About Vue, Angular, etc?

I chose React over the other frameworks for 3 reasons.

  • Community—React is the most popular of the frontend frameworks. This means it will be easier to find help online when you are stuck.
  • Ecosystem—As a result of being hugely popular, there is a large of ecosystem of libraries and tooling to help you in development.
  • Hirability—React is an in-demand skillset to have if your goal is to become a frontend web developer.

What About CSS?

React makes no opinions about how you should approach writing CSS—so I'll offer my own. If you want to learn CSS as fast as possible, consider learning Tailwind CSS. I wrote more about this in another blog post.

Also, when you're just starting out, you may find it helpful to use higher-level CSS frameworks such as:

Once you feel comfortable enough with React, I think you will find having some lower-level control from a framework like Tailwind is beneficial. I wrote more about choosing a CSS strategy with React projects in another blog post.

How to Learn React

So where do you get started learning React?

I recommend taking the Full Stack Open 2020 course offered by the University of Helsinki. This is a free online boot camp that lets you go at your own pace. They cover topics such as

  • React
  • NodeJS
  • GraphQL

and more. Once you're comfortable with the material in the course, the idea is that you should be ready to apply for entry-level web developer jobs.

If you are completely new to development, then make sure to take your time in part 0 of the course. In part 0, they do cover some of the basics of web development.

At any time taking the course, if you feel you need additional explanations, check out Brad Traversy on YouTube—he has a ton of beginner-friendly videos that should help you fill any gaps.

Good luck on your journey learning web development! Let me know on Twitter how it goes! 🙂

Last modified
September 22, 2020
Time to read
2 min read

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