What to Learn to be a Better Developer in 2018

Here are the skills I’m working on to become a better WordPress developer in 2018.

Now that 2017 is in our rearview, it’s time to look forward into 2018 with a focus on developing our skills.

JavaScript Deeply(TM)

Tom Hanks Explosion
Not relevant. I just love this gif.

There was a little drama in the WordPress world in relation to JavaScript in 2017. Mostly about which JavaScript library WordPress should include in Core due to Facebook’s limiting React license.

Well, it seems React won out after Facebook changed their license to be more friendly to the open source world.

New JavaScript

JavaScript is expanding. You may see ES6, ES7, ES2017, and ES.Next. Well those are just the releases of JavaScript. The ES is short for ECMAScript. I’ll leave it to others to better explain the JavaScript versioning. But suffice to say it’s time to start learning and using advanced JavaScript

Where to Learn it:

Wes Bos (@wesbos) is one of the best development teachers I’ve come across. His ES6 for Everyone course is a great introduction to using ES6 (with updates for ES7 and ES8).

Brandon Morelli (@BrandonMorelli) is doing some great writing on codeburst.io. His tutorials are brief, informative, and easy to understand. Definitely worth a follow to improve your JavaScript chops.

React

Learn React JS
It seems safe to focus on React going forward.

The new Gutenberg editor was initially built using React. Then it wasn’t due to Facebook’s odd licensing decision. But now React is back again after Facebook loosened it’s license.

If you’re looking for a JavaScript framework to take on in 2018 and plan to do any committing to WordPress, React is worth your time. But feel free to learn Angular, Vue, or one of the billion other JavaScript frameworks out there.

Where to Learn it:

Wes Bos (@wesbos) again has an excellent React for Beginners course. You’ll be building React web apps in no time with this course. It’s a great hands on approach to learning React.

Gutenberg

Gutenberg is the new editor for WordPress. It’s coming1 whether you’re ready or not. You can start playing around with the Gutenberg feature plugin now. But you’ll want to take a deep dive into developing for Gutenberg in 2018. Especially if you create WordPress themes or plugins.

Where to Learn it:

Zac Gordon (@zgordon) of JavaScript for WP fame has put together a course on developing for Gutenberg at gutenberg.courses. And there’s a user course on there as well from Joe Casabona (@jcasabona).

And of course follow along with Gutenberg’s development on the Codex. It’s updated frequently as new features are locked and doc’ed for the final release.

CSS Grid

CSS Grid is a new layout spec within CSS allowing for row and column based layouts to easily be created and maintained with simple CSS. It’s well supported in the current versions of the major browsers and with the help of the @supports feature you can easily create a fallback for unsupported browsers.

Where to Learn it:

Chris House has put together an excellent guide to CSS Grid on CSS Tricks.

Rachel Andrew’s (@rachelandrewGet Ready for CSS Grid Layout from A Book Apart is a great read covering what you really need to know to prepare for CSS Grid. If you haven’t prepared yet, it’s time to catch up.

And again Wes Bos just released a 4 hour CSS Grid course. Best of all it is completely free. I’m just starting it myself, but as you can see in the rest of the article I’m a fan of his courses.

CSS Animations

CSS Animations have been around for awhile. But as devices get more powerful animations become important in providing feedback to users to enhance the experience. If you don’t have a good understanding of the best practices of CSS animations and when to use them now is the time to up your animation game.

Where to Learn it:

Rachel Nabors (@rachelnabors) does some great writing on web animations and has an excellent weekly newsletter. She also has a A Book Apart brief on the topic titled Animation At Work.

Design

If you’re a developer reading this now is the time to learn some design principles. You don’t need to start creating your own fonts in Illustrator, but knowing the best practices will make you a better developer and help you work better with your own designers.

Where to Learn it:

Invision’s blog has some excellent article on UX design. Their writings on Sketch are excellent for getting to know the software and how you can use it as a developer.

Rafal Tomal's website
Rafal Tomal does some great work making web design accessible to all. And he has a course coming out in 2018.

Rafal Tomal (@RafalTomal) does some excellent writing on web design and shares some excellent resources for free. He’s also got a course coming in 2018 that should be great based on his The Essential Web Design Handbook.

If you’re into logo design Aaron Draplin (@Draplin) is an excellent source of inspiration. He’s also got some courses on Skillshare for logo design and customizing text.

Conclusion

This is just scratching the surface of what you can learn in 2018. You could also look into VR, artificial intelligence, or more! Go out there and be the developer that accidentally creates a Facebook Messenger bot that turns itself into a global network and takes over the world!

  1. At last check in April!