New to React? What You Need to Know to Get Started

React is a JavaScript library centered around building more responsive user interfaces. It’s a no-brainer for including in applications that see a lot of changing data or moving parts. In a web application, it’s the views that are being used. React uses declarative views which make your code more predictable and much easier to debug. It prioritizes interactivity, which is key for user engagement. Many of the world’s top sites, like Netflix and Instagram, use it. If you’re new to React, here are some things to keep in mind to get started.

Know Your Prerequisites

If you don’t have a basic knowledge of HTML, JavaScript, and CSS, React is likely going to be a bit outside of your reach. While React is often easier to pick up, it’s an extension of the fundamental building blocks of coding and design. Make sure that you’ve brushed up on JavaScript, especially since React builds on it. However, even if you’re coming from a different programming language, you should still be able to pick up some of the general concepts of React.

It’s also important to know some ES6 (EcmaScript 6) features such as const, arrow functions, let, and classes. You don’t need to be an ES6 expert, but understanding at least the beginner features proves invaluable. A working knowledge of npm—a package manager for JavaScript—will also make picking up React seem a lot more intuitive and easy to comprehend.

Consider a Training Course

If you’re not the best at self-teaching, you’re going to want to look into React training. Luckily, the internet is overflowing with resources to help you learn this library quickly and effectively. Training courses are excellent choices for developer teams and corporate atmospheres, as they’re able to get entire teams up-to-speed in no time.

Choose a program that caters to your team’s skill level. If you’re still struggling with fundamentals, find beginner courses that are able to break down some of the more complex concepts. For the experts out there, however, you’re not going to want to spend much of your time on these introductory courses unless you’re looking for a quick refresher before you dive into the more advanced concepts of React.

Select Starter Projects

The options for online code editors are seemingly endless. You won’t want to practice on a live site or application as there’s too much room for error in the learning process and you could seriously dismantle some of your code. There’s also the Create React App which is constantly being updated with more tools and information to help with beginner projects.

Some of the most effective starter projects are simple user tools, like to-do applications, calculators, and shopping carts. While these may seem a little like Coding 101, it’s important to gain mastery of the simpler projects as their concepts almost always translate when it comes to crafting more complex user interfaces. From these, you can move onto more complex (and exciting) React projects like server rendering and incorporating Redux.

Step by Step

React has some really intuitive and clever features that are exciting to integrate with existing applications. However, like any programming projects, start off small until you get a firm grasp on the concepts of the library. Learning to build a JavaScript application can be tricky regardless of the library you’re using, so patience is key. Luckily, there’s a massive React community that’s always willing to help out beginners. You may not build the next Instagram today, but stick with it. You never know where React could take you.

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