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Podcast

GitHub Reading Challenge

Professional JavaScript: Episode 3

Last Updated: 2021-03-08

The following is a transcript of the latest episode on the Professional JavaScript podcast.

Tagline

Hey everyone and welcome to the third episode of Professional JavaScript, the podcast for learning how to grow as a JavaScript developer in a professional environment where the problems are greater than just another todo list tutorial.

Each week, I, Michael Mangialardi, will be sharing what I’m learning as I write JavaScript code on a professional team. I’ll cover tips, tricks, technologies, and other goodies that you don’t always get when consuming other online resources.

Today’s Episode

In today’s episode, I’ll be announcing a GitHub Reading Challenge.

Introduction

I love the feeling of that start of a year. Life rolls into another year but there is a freshness of starting anew. There’s an uptick in energy to accomplish new goals.

A common new goal for a new year is to do a reading challenge.

The Goodreads 2021 Reading Challenge has surpassed 3 million ambitious readers!

Now, what is a cost-effective way to gain access to a database of ebooks to read for all that reading?

Well, there are subscription options such as Kindle Unlimited, Scribd, Bookmate in which you pay a certain amount per month. Scribd, for example, costs $8.99 per month.

For developers, there are also ebook subscription options such as O’Reilly which costs $49 per month.

O’Reilly is a good option. However, are there any free ebook options for developers?

Of course! There is GitHub.

Body

On my first episode, I talked about how any JavaScript package is shared because it solves a problem.

Therefore, we can learn how a common problem was solved by reading the source code of a JavaScript package.

Each file in the source code tells a story about how a problem was solved.

Even if a problem that you are encountering is different, you can take and modify bits and pieces of an existing solution.

There is a lot to learn by reading source code.

Since GitHub makes source code publically accessible, and since source code tells a story, GitHub may be thought of as a reading platform (in one sense). A free reading platform that is.

As an alternative and/or addition to developer ebook subscriptions and other online resources, why not read through the source code of GitHub repositories that implement technologies that you want to learn?

As the Goodread’s Reading Challenge highlights, there can be a tremendous motivation that comes from doing a reading challenge.

Putting it all together, how about a GitHub Reading Challenge?

Before we go, let me give you an outline for an example GitHub Reading Challenge which you can adapt and make your own.

Read through and understand the “story” of the source code for these different categories:

  1. A CLI tool of your choice (i.e. Prettier)
  2. A testing framework of your choice (can be a unit or E2E testing framework; i.e Playwright)
  3. A “utility” package of your choice (i.e. Lodash)
  4. A functional programming language of your choice (i.e. Elixir)
  5. A color manipulation library of your choice (i.e. tinycolor2)
  6. A state management library of your choice (i.e. XState)
  7. A GitHub repository trending today
  8. A data visualization library of your choice (i.e. Visx)
  9. A GitHub repository that consumes a library you want to learn (i.e. a PostCSS plugin)

The sky is the limit. What will your GitHub Reading Challenge look like?

Conclusion

That’s all folks. I hope this provides additional motivation to learn by reading source code on GitHub.

Cheers!

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Michael Mangialardi is a software developer specializing in UI development with React and fluent in UI/UX design. As a survivor of impostor syndrome, he loves to make learning technical skills digestible and practical. Formerly, he published articles, ebooks, and coding challenges under his brand "Coding Artist." Today, he looks forward to using his mature experience to give back to the web development community. He lives in beautiful, historic Virginia with his wife.