Richard Gould

CTO, Software Developer, Language Learner

5 Steps to Understanding Meteor Better by Improving Your JavaScript

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I don’t believe you need to be a JavaScript expert before diving into Meteor, but I highly recommend taking the time to learn advanced topics first. By levelling up your JavaScript, you will understand the concepts faster, and will feel less frustrated and confused. Even if you don’t stick with Meteor or do Meteor full time, the skills these books will teach you will help you in all aspects of development.

I recommend starting by watching a series of Douglas Crockford’s lectures on JavaScript, and then following it with Reginald Braithwaite’s Javascript Allongé.

  1. Watch Crockford’s The JavaScript Programming Language. Watch it even if you already have built some applications with JS already. It goes into the fundamentals in-depth, and will help cement the basics in your mind, which is essential when learning advanced topics.
  2. Watch Crockford’s Theory of the DOM. Watch it even if you think you know the DOM well. Again, establishing fundamentals makes learning advanced topics easier.
  3. Watch Crockford’s Advanced JavaScript. It covers some advanced topics sometimes unique to JavaScript, and common advanced patterns. If you’ve ever tried reading a JavaScript library and couldn’t even begin to comphrehend it, this lecture will help clear things up.
  4. Watch Crockford’s JavaScript: The Good Parts. It will help you pick out the best parts of the language to use, and the parts that you need to actively avoid.
  5. Read Reginald Braithwaite’s JavaScript Allongé. Reginald (aka ragnwald) covers advanced functional topics, and this will permanently change how you write your JavaScript, enabling you to write resuable code faster and with much higher confidence.

I recommend doing the above in that order. Allongé is more advanced and builds off of topics covered by Crockford. Each step will help bring your JavaScript game to the next level, with Crockford’s lessons establishing solid fundamentals, and Allongé teaching (in a very effective manner) the more advanced usages of functional programming with JS.

Note that I did all of the above (and worked through the exercises in Allongé) before I even touched Meteor, and for the most part, the only Meteor help I’ve needed has been the official Meteor docs. Having such a solid foundation of knowledge let me pick up Meteor with lightning speed, and all of those skills will stay with me when it comes time to learn another framework.

If you have trouble following Crockford’s lectures, then I recommend reading his print edition of JavaScript: The Good Parts instead. While you’re reading it, really work through the examples to make sure you’re understanding it as you go along.

Have you ever felt that your JavaScript skills were inadequate? Have you ever looked inside one of the libraries you use (jQuery perhaps?) and felt as though you didn’t understand JavaScript at all? I want to hear about it. Email me with your story (write as much or as little as you’d like).