React come up at some point.
According to Stack Overflow’s 2019 Developer Survey, which studied more than 90,000 developers on trends in programming, React.js is the most loved web framework favored by developers. That’s not all—React is so popular that sites like Facebook, Codecademy, and the New York Times are all built partially using the React framework.
This guide will discuss the best way to learn how to code using React online and walk through what you need to know to start your journey to learning React.
There are two main components to a website—front end and back end. The front end is what the user sees on a site—the images, text, content, navigation bars—and the back-end is what the users don’t see, such as the scripts that process forms on a site.
What Is React?
For instance, you could use React to create a component that shows all the articles on a news site. Once you have created this component, you can use it anywhere in your code, without having to manually code it in from scratch.
Why Should You Learn React?
If you want to pursue a career in front end web development, learning how to code in React.js is a great investment of your time. But why is this the case?
First, the React framework is used by a wide range of huge organizations, from the New York Times to Facebook. So, if you know how to code in React, you’ll have a great skill that you can list on your resume when it comes time to look for a new job.
Second, React makes it significantly easier to develop modern web applications. React offers features like declarative syntax and a wide range of external libraries that allow you to build powerful web experiences.
In addition, as React has become more popular, there is a growing body of starter resources out there which makes it even easier for you to get started. Indeed, React is known for having a good learning curve.
How to Learn React Fast
Are you convinced that learning React is a good use of your time? Great! Now there’s only one question left to answer: How can you learn React fast?
To answer this question, we’re going to break it down into two parts. First, we’ll discuss the main skills you need to know about when it comes to React. Then, we’ll talk about how you can actually acquire those skills.
Build Your Skills
To help you on your journey, we have compiled a list of the top skills you’ll need to build in order to learn how to code using React. Let’s break down these skills and discuss them individually.
- Codecademy’s web development tutorials
Here are a few topics you should explore to further your understanding of JSX:
- What is JSX?
- What is a JSX element?
- How to work with attributes
- Nested and outer JSX elements
- Rendering elements using JSX
- Rendering elements using the React DOM
- The Virtual DOM
Components are the building blocks upon which all React-powered applications are built. All web pages that use React use components to declare each part of the site. For instance, a navigation bar may be a component, or an article on a web page may be a component. In turn, the article component could consist of a comment component or a text component.
Components allow you to develop user interfaces that are easier to maintain and load quickly. Here are the main topics you should master when it comes to React components:
- How to create a component class
- How to render a component
- How to create an instance of a component
- How do components interact
- How to use components in a render function
- How to reference components from another file
- Controlled and uncontrolled components
Lists are an important part of any website, and building a list in React is a great way to familiarize yourself with the fundamentals of coding in React. As you start to learn about React, you should spend time learning about how you can render lists of data on a web page, and use components to make your lists more efficient.
Managing States and Props
state refers to how each object on a web page appears. Every component in a React app can have its own state, which is part of an object called
Props, on the other hand, are used to share code between components. To work with React, you need to have a good understanding of both states and props. Here are the main topics you should learn about:
- What is the React state?
- How to use props in React
We have only scratched the surface of what there is to know about React. Because the library is so popular, there are frequent updates made available that continue to add in even more features to make using React a more pleasurable experience.
But, the topics we have covered above will give you a good sense of the foundational skills you need to master to start building apps in React. Then, once you’ve mastered these topics, you can go on to explore:
- Higher-order components
- React context
- React router
- React icons
- React forms
- Handling API requests using React
As you can see, there’s a lot you can learn once you master the basics! But, when you know the essentials, these topics will come naturally to you, because they are all built on the same fundamental principles used to create the React library.
Where to Learn React
React has a massive developer community supporting the library, which means there is no shortage of resources out there that you can use to learn React. While this is a good thing, it also means that it can be difficult to find the resources that are worth your time.
Before you start learning React, ask yourself: How do you learn best? Do you like tutorials? Or do you prefer online videos? Do you like working on interactive projects, or prefer to work through theory then build your own projects? By answering this question upfront, you’ll be able to refine your focus as you look for learning materials.
To help you get started, here are a few places you can go to learn React:
The official React documentation is one of the best sources of content when it comes to learning React. The React documentation is updated with every change to the library, which means that everything you read on the site should reflect the latest version of React.
The React documentation was written by the core React team and a community of passionate React developers, and so it is well regarded as a high-quality source of content.
In addition, because the documentation was written by the React team, there are no commercial interests you have to worry about—the documentation was written solely to help people better understand React. You can find the official React documentation here.
Online Tutorials and Guides
Aside from the official Intro to React tutorial, there are plenty of great guides and tutorials out there you can use to learn React. Using tutorials to learn React is a great way to refine your skills because authors usually elaborate on their thinking step-by-step. This means that you can easily walk your way through what is being discussed, and, if you need to, you can always go back to an earlier point in the tutorial if you get stuck.
Here are a few of the top tutorials and guides out there for React:
Another great way to learn React is to follow along with online courses. Online courses are like a class you would attend in college, but you get to control the pace at which you go through the course. And, you can always rewind a video if you get stuck.
Here are a few of the top online courses you can use to learn React:
- Learn React by Tyler McGinnis
- Egghead.io: The Beginner’s Guide to ReactJS
- Egghead.io: Start Learning React
- Frontend Masters
If you’re looking for more courses, check out the official React Community course list.
Learn by Doing
Learning by doing is one of the most effective ways to learn how to code. This is because coding is a highly practical skill, and the only way that you can refine your skills is to get your hands dirty and build something yourself.
While tutorials, guides, and courses are effective at helping you master the basics of a programming language, they can only go so far. The next thing you need to do is actually build a project that you want to see exist.
This will give you an opportunity to work on a project on your own terms. You can choose what you build, how you build it, and how it works. Then, when you have built your project, you can add new features to make it more advanced.
In addition, when you build a project you’ll likely encounter new issues that you have never seen before. This gives you an excellent opportunity to refine your debugging skills and gain further comprehension of React.
Are you looking for ideas on what to build? Here are a few suggestions:
- A photo gallery with search
- A clone of Hacker News
- A news site aggregator
- An app to search for an emoji
- A blog or portfolio site
The more projects you build, the better you’ll get at coding in React.
How to Get Set Up
How do you actually start coding using React? That’s a great question. Here are a few tools you may want to set up in order to start working with React:
- Install NPM. NPM (Node Package Manager) is a site that allows you to install libraries into your React project. You’ll need to use NPM to access external libraries and to install React itself.
- Choose an IDE. IDEs are the development environments you use to build applications. For React developers, Visual Studio Code (VS Code) is a popular choice, alongside Atom.
- Use Prettier. Quickly, your React code can become messy. That’s why it is handy to have a tool like Prettier at hand, which can format your code in your development environment. Prettier has a custom React feature you can use to format your React code.
- Try out create-react-app. create-react-app is a boilerplate that gives you everything you need to start a new React app. Many tutorials recommend that you start from the create-react-app project because all the basics are configured, and as soon as you download the project, you will be ready to go.
Practice Your React Skills
Building projects are so effective at helping you learn to code because it is a form of practice. When you are building a project, you cannot learn passively by watching a tutorial— you need to be in the weeds and focus all your attention on what you are building.
Practice is so important when you’re programming because many of the issues you will encounter will come up again and again. By doing more coding, you’ll be able to build up a clear list of errors in your mind that will help you spot common mistakes in your work, which you can then use to resolve those mistakes more effectively.
Practice every day is a great mantra to use. Try to code as much as you possibly can. If you’re looking for ways to get in more practice, here are a few suggestions:
- Work toward a project. Build a project that you are passionate about, then share it with the world to get feedback.
- Participate in coding challenges. Sign up to a platform like Codewars, which hosts a wide range of coding challenges that you can use to refine your skills.
- Sign up to 100 Days of Code. 100 Days of Code is a challenge where you publicly commit to writing code for 100 days in a row. This is a great way to stay committed to coding and to hold yourself accountable.
It’s simple—the more you practice, the better you’ll get.
Learn in Public and Get Feedback
Learning in public introduces a new accountability mechanism in your learning. When you commit to learning something in public, you can’t easily back out because there will be people who are following your progress and who will root to see you succeed.
When you’re learning React, you should try to be vocal about your intentions, and talk widely about the goals you have set for yourself.
Once you’ve met a goal, you should try to get feedback on your work from other developers. This will give you an opportunity to hear suggestions on how you can improve from people who are more experienced at using React, and who may have unique insights they can share.
Join a Community
If you’re new to coding or are learning to code on the site, you may not yet know any—or many—other developers. But, there is an easy way to find other people with whom to talk by joining a developer community.
Developer communities are places where you can go to talk about code, share your ideas, and collaborate on projects. Here are a few great communities for React developers that you should consider joining (if you haven’t already):
- StackOverflow: StackOverflow is a popular asks-and-answers site used by developers. There are plenty of existing threads on there about common React topics, and if you have a unique question you can always post it to the site.
- Dev.to: Dev.to has an active community of React developers who come together and chat about the latest in React.
- Spectrum’s React community: Spectrum’s react community is a great place to meet other React developers and discuss coding issues.
Upon joining a community, you should start to look for ways you can add value. Do you know the answer to a question someone has? Answer it. Do you need help with a question? Post it on the site so anyone else with that problem has a place to go. The more you contribute, the easier it will be to develop connections in the community.
React.js is an established web technology that allows you to painlessly build interactive user interfaces.
The React library is based on the
learn once, write anywhere principle, which means that when you master the basics, you should be able to easily reuse your code across a wide range of contexts.
Because React is so widely used by developers—and because companies from Airbnb to Uber to Dropbox use the technology—it is easy to find high-quality learning resources that you can use to help you master React.
In this guide, we laid out a few main steps you should follow to learn React fast. They were:
- Find learning resources
- Master the basics
- Learn by doing
- Practice your skills
- Join a developer community
By following all these steps, you’ll be on a good path to becoming a React master! Once you’ve learned React, there is no limit to the projects you can build. And, if you are interested in becoming a professional web developer, React is a great skill to have in your toolbelt as you start looking for a job.