Ethan Mick
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Introduction to React

React is one of the most powerful concepts in modern application development. React is more than a library; it's a way to think about organizing your data and building your app.

Learning React will make you a more effective engineer.

Building in React is more than writing correct code. You can create components and manage state in any framework. When React clicks you start thinking in React. It's a simple yet powerful mental model.

This guide will get you to the point where you think in React. You will be able to:

  • Break your application down to modular components.
  • Manage state, even when it gets complex.
  • Understand how to use modern React features.

React can be used to build simple widgets or entire products like Facebook. React scales. Learning and applying these concepts allow you to leverage your skills as an engineer better and build products faster.

React is composable and the early building blocks connect in an elegant way to build more complicated systems. Spend the time to get the basics down, and the rest of React will fall into place for you. You can always send me a message if you don't understand something. ­čÖé

React changes, and so does this guide

React is continuously updating and adding new APIs and best practices. These changes are often small but have a massive impact on the entire ecosystem. For example, the introduction of hooks radically changed coding in React.

This guide is eternally up to date with the best practices in React.

You can pass it to a friend and know it will walk them through React best practices as they currently stand. Check the changelog if you are ever curious!

It's also opinionated. I've been running React in production for years, and there are things to avoid and things to encourage. This guide will call these out and give my reasoning for them.

Starting with: write React in TypeScript.

One of my biggest opinions is that every React project should be written in TypeScript. TypeScript provides a better and faster development experience. It works elegantly with React's APIs of state and property management. You can follow this guide without using TypeScript, but I'm saying it now, you are missing out.

TypeScript or not, React runs on JavaScript, and as such some of the, erm, quirks of the JavaScript language shine through. I'll point out when this is the case and you can follow the turtles down as deep as you want to go.

Before getting started

Learning React requires some basic knowledge in several areas. It does not need to be deep knowledge, but React should not be the very first thing you try to learn on your programming journey.

To make the most of this guide, you should have a basic understanding of:

  1. Editing code with an editor you are comfortable using.
  2. How a terminal works and executing basic commands.
  3. Basic JavaScript. If you know any other language like Python, Ruby, Go, that should be sufficient. JavaScript is just another language and it's easy to learn.
  4. Basic HTML such as anchor, image, and div tags.
  5. Basic CSS, which will make the user experience of your app.

TypeScript knowledge is not required, although recommended. TypeScript is a superset of JavaScript and so knowing JavaScript is more important.

That's it! If you are comfortable Googling for answers you can start this guide and see how far you get. Feel free to take a step away and learn one of the foundation technologies better. In general, if you've worked on any website before, you should be good to go.

Ready to take the first step toward becoming a more effective and productive engineer?

Let's learn React!

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