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Node.js as a Tool For Learning To Program

Monday, April 22, 2013

If you want to teach someone the very basics of computer programming, then JavaScript might be a good place to start.

- The syntax is flexible and uses only a handful of keywords, plus functions and objects.

- The language includes standard control flow structures (if/else, while, do, switch, throw).

- A beginning programmer would also have an easier time understanding a number of other popular languages, including Java, C#, and C++.

- JavaScript runtimes are ubiquitous.

- Knowing how to program in JavaScript is marketable skill.

Once you've settled on JavaScript as a starting language, then the next question is what tools and environment to use. Node.js might be a good place to start.



- Node is free and easy to install on all the popular desktop operating systems.

- As a pure JavaScript execution engine, you can start by explaining Javascript without explaining HTML DOM APIs.

- Node has a REPL for interactive programming

- Node has a large universe of packages to build anything from a web server to desktop applications.

- Node projects follow simple file system conventions.

- You can still pick any editor or IDE to work with the JavaScript language. 

Using node and JavaScript to learn programming fundamentals is something I'm putting together for a future Pluralsight video, and it's working quite well.