I Guess I'm a React Developer Now

It's too late for me to be starting on this blog post. It's almost 10 p.m. on a work night. I doubt I'll finish before midnight. I'll be up a while no matter what, as I've been at a coffee shop drinking green tea and studying for the last couple of hours. We're shifting some of our technologies over to React.js, a JavaScript library for building user interfaces. I have to learn that now, which is OK, I guess.

Conceptually, I groove on how React is put together. In theory, I'm seriously into it. However, getting to a point where I understand React (with Redux, no less) enough to do anything worthwhile is proving a bit challenging for several reasons:

  1. I'm joining projects after they've already been built. As a result, I inherit all of the complexity without gaining any of the experience one gleans from creating such an application from the ground up.
  2. None of the many tutorials I have tried work. Each has some major bug or missing piece of the puzzle preventing it from functioning. Broken tuts are frustrating and waste a lot of time.
  3. It appears to be fashionable in the React-Redux community to provide demonstrations of the many different ways one might accomplish a task incorrectly, explain in-depth why these are less than ideal approaches, and conclude the lesson by breezing over the correct way to do a thing. I suppose the idea is that once you know why all the wrong approaches are wrong, you'll understand the merits of the right way of doing things (nevermind the fact you don't yet know enough to have even imagined any of these non-solutions for yourself). This is a famously poor way of teaching, exceedingly frustrating, and wastes much of my time.

There is a limit to how much of my workday I can devote to broken tutorials and learning the various wrong ways to do a thing. As a result, I'm burning the other end of the candle a bit after hours. My natural inclination, once home, is to eat dinner then relax on the sofa and maybe take a nap, which is what a man my age ought to be doing after he gets home from work, by rights. Unfortunately, in my field, it is critical that one continuously learn new skills which will undoubtedly prove to be of little or no use five years from now.

Coffee shops are my study space of choice because they provide internet access, music, and caffeine. And people. Being around other people who are awake and active helps put my mind in a space to be awake and active also. I would honestly love to study at a bar some nights. Bars are livelier than coffee shops, and the music tends to be better and louder. I don't have the nerve to do it though. I think it would be too weird for the other people at the bar to have some guy sitting in a corner, seldom speaking to anyone, and typing away on his computer all evening. Plus, I feel there is a much higher probability of someone spilling a drink on my laptop at a bar. And by someone, I mean me.

Murder Me Rachael by The National

The National - Murder Me Rachael