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Tip 016 - Learning the Seams


Learning new technology is tough. Learning how to learn the new technology is even tougher. Everyone learns things differently, to the point that one person's ideal learning method looks to another that the first person is dumb somehow. We're all different, so I'm not going to presume how you or anyone else learns. I'll just spend a few tips on what I find helps me learn best.

This first one is about Seams. When you begin an epic quest through the Google-verse to learn, say, Bootstrap, that is more complicated that it seems at first. By following the tutorials, reading the documentation, and maybe taking a class, I will definitely learn Bootstrap - but I'll be stunted later in my learning quest because it wasn't clear whether what I was using was part of Bootstrap, CSS, JS, Node, the text editor, or some methodology I absorbed through osmosis.

This isn't to bash those tutorials and resources out there. They're mostly spectacular. But for me, it's worth the focus to find out exactly where one technology ends and the next begins. When I originally learned jQuery, I spent at least a year without knowing that a lot of what I was doing didn't need jQuery at all. The difference between el.forEach and $(el).each() was totally lost on me.

What eventually broke me from that mindset was when I doubled down and researched jQuery itself. Once I understood that $ or the name jQuery was an object with lots of functions attached, it all began to make sense. (And all the code I had written in past months suddenly seemed awfully sloppy. Side effect of learning, alas.) Learning what the technology IS vs how to use it made all the difference, and it exposed the Seams between plain JS and jQuery.

(Side note, why are there so few resources out there that teach what a technology IS, instead of just how to use it? I would've grokked React at least a couple years earlier if I had resources like that. ...Makes a note)

TL;DR (with jQuery as variable example)

Learn what jQuery IS, not just how to use it. Combining this with the tutorials out there, focus on what is jQuery and what is plain JS, and what's the Seams between the two.


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