What coding language should you learn as a beginner & why

A common question we get from potential students is, “why don’t you teach [insert technology here]?”.

We also sometimes hear it as,

“I heard/my developer friend/a random blog on the internet [delete as applicable] said that Ruby/Ruby on Rails is soooo last year and no-one uses it any more. Why’s it on your curriculum?”.

The answer is simple: we aim to produce language-agnostic graduates who have a strong grasp of programming fundamentals. That’s a bit of a mouthful, so in a nutshell: we train people in the skills they need to become amazing junior developers – not specific technologies. We start people’s programming journey in Ruby because we believe that Ruby is a great first language for beginners – it gets out of the way quickly and allows learners to think about the actual problem at hand, rather than getting trapped by syntax and language oddities. Also, the Ruby community is awesome for beginners – one of the community’s mottos is MINASWAN

The same thing applies to Rails – despite the internet consistently announcing Rails’ demise, it’s still an extremely effective way to learn about MVC architecture and the basics of REST. We also continue to consistently place graduates in Rails jobs, not least at the GDS, who builds the UK government’s digital infrastructure using Rails.

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But enough about Ruby. To give a slightly more detailed answer, let’s talk about one of the major current technology trends: JavaScript. JavaScript has become extremely popular in the last few years, leading to some bootcamps switching to an all-JavaScript curriculum. Many current jobs on the market are for full-stack JavaScript developers, As a result, we often get applicants asking, “why choose Makers for JavaScript?”. Some may think that we lag behind current trends and risk becoming outdated if we don’t follow the all-JavaScript trend. That’s because we think it’s better to focus on universal skills, which are applicable in a wide array of languages, then figure out the exact details as we see what kinds of jobs are available on the market.

Here are three reasons why Makers is the right choice to learn JavaScript, and indeed any technology:

  1. Fundamentals are always fundamentals
  2. We always consider the market
  3. We also do… lots of JavaScript
  1. Fundamentals are always fundamentals

 

Here is how you map over things, in Ruby:

 

“`ruby

[1, 2, 3].map { |number| number * 3 } #=> [3, 6, 9]

#1 2 3 4 5

“`

 

And again, in JavaScript:

“`javascript

[1, 2, 3].map(function(number) {

// 1 2 3 4

return number * 3;

// 5

} // => [3, 6, 9]

“`

While the syntax is different, the underlying concepts are the same – take an array (1), call the “map” method on it (2), pass an anonymous function (also known as a block in Ruby) (3), with a parameter representing each element of the array (4); then apply the body of the function (5). This concept of “mapping” is fairly universal across most programming languages – if you understand the concept, the actual implementation in each language comes naturally. If you don’t understand the concept – that’s what we’re here to help you with!

   2. We always consider the market

Programming languages and frameworks (especially front-end JavaScript frameworks) come and go, depending on current trends. For back-end: we’ve seen Rails ride to the top then become a mainstream technology, Node.js becoming a viable alternative for big enterprise, Java and .NET’s popularity rise, fall and rise again. For the front-end: we’ve watched the transition from jQuery to Knockout, from Knockout to Angular, then from Angular to React/Ember/Angular. Our curriculum has shifted from being an all Rails course, to having one week of JavaScript, then two… then realising that if students get the fundamentals right and learn how to pick up frameworks quickly, we don’t need to specifically focus on a technology until applying for a job that uses it.

As it stands, we previously added Node.js to the course due to an upsurge in its popularity, then replaced it with Angular as the market shifted. Right now, we’re sitting tight and seeing how things unfold as ES6, Web Components, React and other ground-breaking new innovations start to see widespread adoption. Ultimately, we always want to make sure our graduates are prepared to enter the job market with the skills that are highly in demand, and will continue to adapt the curriculum to make sure that’s the case.

  3. We also do… lots of JavaScript

Coming back to the main point of this article – there’s plenty of JavaScript on the course. Two whole weeks are currently dedicated to it, as well as it being an option many teams choose for any of the project weeks. We expect students to pick up enough JavaScript to build projects in just two weeks, and not just superficially – they go deep into the gnarlier parts, such as callbacks, promises, and event-driven programming, as well as learning about testing in JavaScript, build tools and the wider ecosystem. They also learn a front-end framework (currently Angular), and have the option to pick up Node.js themselves with the materials we previously created, as well as leveraging a carefully selected list online resources.

All that said, it might be easier to look at actual data: with this approach, we’ve successfully placed graduates in companies using all of the current major JavaScript frameworks (Angular/Ember/React), as well as jQuery roles and pure JavaScript for companies that prize raw speed and quick page load times. Beyond that, we also have graduates working in almost every language under the sun: a quick (and incomplete) list includes: C++, C#, F#, Java, Go, Scheme, Swift, Objective-C, Python, SQL (used as a full programming language, and not just for queries!).

What are you waiting for? Join us, learn to code, and change your life.

 

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If you’d like to talk to a human on the phone, feel free to call us on: +44 (0)203 817 8870. You can also book a drop-in visit, or attend one of our events.
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