5 Reasons Your First Coding Language Should Be JavaScript

With hundreds of programming languages out there, it can be hard to know where to begin and what to prioritize in learning computer programming. At Startup Institute, we’re big fans of Ruby on Rails (and teach it in both our part-time and full-time coding courses) because it allows web developers to build quickly, putting it in high demand in the can’t-stop-won’t-stop startup world. Of course, Python is easy to learn and has a strong community with ample resources. Meanwhile, college students get their toes wet in C++ and Java, which develop valuable theoretical understandings of the logic of code but use less intuitive syntax which makes them harder for aspiring web developers to learn.

So, which coding language should you learn? If you ask our community of instructors and alumni in the trenches of the tech ecosystem, many of them say JavaScript. From the mouths of experts, here’s why you should start your coding career by learning Javascript:


1) JavaScript is versatile:

Of the hundreds of programming languages that you could learn, none are as easy to learn or as versatile as JavaScript is. While it's most commonly associated with powering the web, today you can find JS running desktop & mobile apps, servers, databases, even physical hardware.

- Joseph Mainwaring, Software Engineer at HighGround, Startup Institute Chicago instructor.[bctt tweet="JavaScript is easy to learn as it is versatile, says @theaccordance"]

JavaScript is supported by every major browser and is the only web programming language built for both client-side and server-side. For some time, JavaScript was strictly a front-end language, but with the advent of Node.js and other similar platforms, it has become not just a viable back-end option, but a formidable one. Building a development team is much simpler because your entire technology stack can be built around one language. 

-Tom Benneche, Front-End Developer at MobileX Labs, Startup Institute Chicago alumnus and instructor[bctt tweet="#JavaScript isn't just a #backend option, it's a formidable one, says @tjbenneche"]

JavaScript’s pervasiveness in modern websites and its ability to run as a client-side and server-side language make it a very attractive tool to have, regardless of your preference as a front-end developer or back-end developer. In the words of Gandalf: "One language to rule them all."

-Edwin Castillo, Startup Institute Boston alumnus


2) JavaScript is a classic:

JavaScript represents a side in the trifecta of front-end web technologies (HTML and CSS being the others). It's the primary language for capturing interactivity with users.

-Adam Hasler, Product and UX Lead at GoodWorld and Startup Institute Boston alumnus and instructor[bctt tweet="#JavaScript is a side of the #frontend trifecta + the language for interactivity @amhasler"]

Since its introduction in 1995, JavaScript has become one of the most popular web development languages and it's well-supported by all major web browsers. Javascript makes modern websites and web applications more interactive and user-friendly; as a client-side language it’s presence is absolute.

-Edwin Castillo, Startup Institute Boston alumnus

Because it is so widely supported, JavaScript is still the standard for creating much of the interactivity we see on the web today. Used in conjunction with CSS3, it can create beautiful transitions and animations that are incredibly performant.

-Tom Benneche, Front-End Developer at MobileX Labs, Startup Institute Chicago alumnus and instructor


3) JavaScript makes debugging easy:

The feedback loop in Javascript is near-instantaneous. As an interpreted language in the browser, you can refresh and see the results as opposed to compiling and debugging in the dark which is the case with other languages. A simple "console.log" goes a long way in figuring out where you're stuck. Also, its the language of the internet while others are languages stuck within the computer itself. 

-Darren Tseng, Front-End Developer at Elsen and SI Boston alumnus [bctt tweet="#JavaScript is great for learners b/c the feedback loop is near-instantaneous @dtseng123"]


4) JavaScript is in-demand:

There has also been a marked increase in job openings and an increase in salaries for JavaScript developers in the past few years.

-Tom Benneche, Front-End Developer at MobileX Labs, Startup Institute Chicago alumnus and instructor


5) JavaScript is imperative:

You're not a modern developer without it. JavaScript is an integral part of the modern Web Developer's toolkit. JavaScript powers a multitude of app frameworks, servers, terminal-based workflow tools, animation libraries, game frameworks, open source UI frameworks, and innumerable other applications, as well. More JS libraries arrive every day, literally. It's the difference between painting houses for a living, and being an industrial architectural consultant. Without JS, you're just a painter.

-Gabriel Martin, Freelance UI/UX Designer and Startup Institute Boston alumnus[bctt tweet="Without #JavaScript in your toolkit, you're not an architect—only a painter @GabrielMtn"]


And, some closing wisdom…

It's important that people actually learn JavaScript and not just a framework. Anyone can hack together some jQuery, but to be marketable you need to roll your own code and use libraries/frameworks when warranted. If you list JS on your resume and you can only install jQuery plugins, you'll have a bad time.

-Bill Banks, UX Designer at HS2 Solutions and Startup Institute Chicago instructor[bctt tweet="Anyone can use jQuery. To be marketable, roll your own code @billcbanks"]

Learning JavaScript is relatively easy compared to other languages. As a noob hacker who’s eager to build, this means you won’t have to waste time pouring over textbook best practices to understand the “why” before you get to roll up your sleeves and actually create. Because you can find plenty of ready-to-use scripts and resources online, there’s plenty of support to propel your learning (though you should be mindful to learn JavaScript properly, per Banks’ advice above). The language is established, but high-growth companies are in hot pursuit of candidates with JavaScript skills.

Interested in learning one of the most in-demand coding languages on the market? Register for our part-time Intro to JavaScript course.

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Photo credit: Dimitry Baranovskiy via Flickr cc