Top 8 Javascript learning tools

Javascript is a complex and multi-faceted language, and can be hard to learn properly. I’ve found quite a few invaluable tools that have helped me along my Javascript-learning journey, but some of them have been a little hard to dig up and others aren’t very well-known. To save you the pain, I’ve scrounged around and pulled together a list of what I’ve found to be the most useful Javascript learning tools. Enjoy!

1) The Javascript console

The Javascript developer console is an invaluable resource for Javascript developers. It provides a very quick and easy way to find out what’s going on inside your Javascript. Instead of alerting values, console.log() them!

To access the Javascript developer console in Chrome, hold down the keys Ctrl-Shift-J or go to the wrench in the upper right of the screen, select Tools, and click on the “JavaScript console”.

In Firefox, you’ll have to install Firebug to access the Javascript console.

There is a similar tool in Internet Explorer that can be accessed by launching the Developer Tools (F12), clicking the Script tab, and then the Console tag, which will be located to the right.

2) jsFiddle

jsFiddle is an invaluable tool for sharing Javascript with others or to mock something up quickly. Its “Tidy Up” button (which properly formats your code) and the built in code debugging functionality make it a great tool for getting your Javascript technically right in terms of syntax and formatting.

3) jsLint

jsLint is a really picky code debugger that runs a critical eye over your code and tells you exactly what you did wrong, where you did it, and how you can fix it. Great if you’re a perfectionist Javascript coder.

4) jsBeautifier

jsBeautifier is a wonderful tool that provides much the same functionality as jsFiddle’s “Tidy Up” button, but with a lot more options. It formats the code perfectly and makes it easy for you to learn good formatting habits.

5) Stack Overflow

The wonderful community over at Stack Overflow has been an invaluable resource to me over the past few years. If you ask nicely, the Javascript developers over there are always willing to lend a hand solving any of the problems you might have.

6) Mozilla’s Javascript docs

The Mozilla developers have been kind enough to provide us with incredibly comprehensive, informative and quite readable tool kit of documentation for Javascript that has proven quite useful to me time and time again.

7) W3Schools–and when not to use it

Another useful and concise set of documentation for Javascript can be found at W3Schools. It is in no way related to W3C, although it makes no effort to clear up this confusion. Furthermore, it can be misleading at times and sometimes even outright wrong. However, it is correct 95% of the time, especially in explicitely definitive areas such as its String and Array documentation. Before you go using this as your go-to reference for everything, though, be sure to check out and read up on the shortcomings of W3Schools.

8) Douglas Crockford on Javascript

Viewed by many as the Javascript guru, Douglas Crockford of Yahoo has provided an excellent set of video tutorials for learning Javascript. While not for the Javascript beginner, these videos are amazing learning tools.

Crockford also has a book, Javascript: The Good Parts, which is available on Amazon.

Wrapping up

The tools I’ve listed above are great helps for learning Javascipt. Don’t be afraid to ask a question on Stack Overflow, be careful with using W3Schools, and good luck with Javascript in the future! :)

And as always, if I’ve left anything out, please comment and let me know what I’ve missed.

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5 thoughts on “Top 8 Javascript learning tools”

  1. Capitalization Nazi says:

    Your consistent miscapitalization of JavaScript kills me a little inside.

    1. admin says:

      I know it’s technically supposed to be capitalized JavaScript but I’ve formed the habit of capitalizing it incorrectly. If I ever wind up writing an academic paper on Javascript I’ll have to learn to capitalize it properly. Until then, you’ll just have to gnash your teeth in vain. :)And yes, this is unrelated, but I happened to notice you live perhaps half an hour from me. Small world, eh?

    1. admin says:

      Well, I’ve never used it personally, and I’ve only put on the list stuff that I’ve found very useful to me (stuff that I keep coming back to, even now). While I understand that Codecademy is a great learning tool, I’m hesitant to put it up there simply because I haven’t tried it myself. But hey–maybe it’ll find a place in the list at some point in the future. Thanks for letting me know!