JavaScript has skyrocketed in popularity over the past year, and is currently the most popular language on GitHub with many declaring it the most important programming language to learn this year. Though traditionally a front-end language, JavaScript can now be used to develop full stack applications with the MEAN stack.  MEAN stands for MongoDB, ExpressJS, AngularJS, and NodeJS, and is taught at many top-tier coding bootcamps including Fullstack Academy, Hack Reactor, Maker Square, and Coding Dojo. If you follow the recommendations below, you’ll be well-prepared upon entering a JavaScript coding bootcamp.

The underlying connection between MEAN technologies is JavaScript. Every technology in the MEAN stack interacts using JavaScript alone. Naturally, if you are looking to prepare yourself for a MEAN focused bootcamp, JavaScript should be your primary focus. 

 

Start with Online Courses

  • Codecademy - The universally accepted starting point for learning programming on the web is Codecademy, a free website offering coding tutorials and projects. Codecademy is an excellent resource to gain a comfort level using JavaScript and will help you better understand how to use variables, loops and functions. Codecademy also has excellent resources for learning the basics of web design using HTML and CSS.

After spending 20-40 hours on Codecademy you will begin to exhaust their resources. Luckily, there are plenty of other sites to get you geared up for a coding bootcamp. Two other popular websites to learn to code are Code School and Team Treehouse. Both resources include courses on the different elements of the MEAN stack. Code School is more hands on than Team Treehouse but Team Treehouse has a larger library and offers more comprehensive resources on the basics of HTML, CSS and responsive design.

  • Team Treehouse has an entire JavaScript pathway that takes users through the basics — AJAX, jQuery, NodeJS, ExpressJS, and GulpJS. An introductory AngularJS course is scheduled to be added in November 2015.
  • Code School offers complete JavaScript training including not one but two courses on AngularJS.

 

Focus on The Fundamentals

While taking online courses is a suitable way to introduce yourself to the MEAN stack, understanding the underlying principles and mastering the use of core JavaScript functionality is essential to prepare, perform and prosper as a web developer.  

Five functions worth your time are:

  • Map
  • Filter
  • ConcatAll
  • Reduce
  • Zip

These functions will give you a better understanding of rudimentary computer science algorithms in action while making your life as a programmer much easier. To go beyond JavaScript basics it’s highly recommended you walk through ReactiveX’s free interactive course on these five functions.

 

Test Yourself

Putting your newfound skills to use is what will truly solidify your training. Testing your coding prowess on sites like CoderByte and Codewars is an excellent way to do this.  CoderByte is easier to start with because if you get stuck there are help forums with tips and solutions.

 

Projects

After you get the fundamentals of JavaScript down, it’d be wise to get an idea of what it’s like putting together all the bits and pieces of a web application with the MEAN stack. There are several sites on the web that have tutorials that illuminate the underworkings of the process.  

  • Thinkster.io has a MEAN stack introductory tutorial that will walk you through setting up a Reddit clone. It’ll provide users with an opportunity to work with controllers and factories in AngularJS. The project includes guidance on setting up a Mongoose schema for building out a database in MongoDB.  The tutorial also explains how to create an ExpressJS server using an Express Generator in NodeJS. Protip — if you get stuck search GitHub public repositories for solutions.
  • Mastering MEAN is another excellent resource for project based learning. As the name suggests the site has been created to help people master all the individual elements of the MEAN stack. Skeptics can sign up for a free 30 day membership to check it out.

To gain the most value from sites like Thinkster and Mastering MEAN it's essential that you complete each project more than once. Each time try to put your own spin on the concepts. Add an extra database collection, create an additional form, customize an additional route. Building actual projects that you can add to your portfolio is by far the wisest use of your time.

 

Additional Resources

  • Node School is an indispensable resource for beginners trying to understand call back functions and all the ins and outs of working with JavaScript in NodeJS. They host hands-on workshops on asynchronous JavaScript and many popular libraries.
  • You Don’t Know JS offers a more traditional approach to learning in the form of an online book. What’s great about this resource is that it is up-to-date and will walk you through everything from simple variables to prototypes to asynchronous JavaScript. This book will compliment everything you might have learned in online tutorials and does an excellent job of describing and illustrating simple to advanced JavaScript functionality.
  • LearnJS is a free interactive tutorial where you can skip around to the sections and chapters you’d like to learn or review. It’s a great resource for filling in learning gaps or reviewing concepts that were difficult to grasp in other online projects.

If you have questions along the way Stack Overflow, JavaScript Meetups and the Mozilla Developer Network are all great resources for JavaScript learners!

This might seem like an overwhelming amount of learning material to get through, but not all of these resources will mesh with your individual learning style. Try multiple resources to find which one works best for you. Most importantly, distance yourself from rote learning methods like copying and pasting code, and challenge yourself with new concepts by building your own functions, web sites, applications, and projects.

 

What tutorials did you use to prepare for your JavaScript coding bootcamp? Share your tips with us in the comments below!

About The Author

Nick pic

Nick Toscano is a writer, GIS specialist and aspiring web developer. He has been covering the swelling coding bootcamp industry since 2014.

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