How to Learn JavaScript on Your Own

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In Brief...

There are plenty of free and cheap resources for learning JavaScript. Here we provide some tips for finding the most popular up-to-date tutorials and books.


What should you know before you start?

If you don't know HTML pretty well, you should almost definitely learn HTML before taking on JavaScript. It wouldn't be a bad idea to learn a bit of CSS first as well. See:

How to Choose a JavaScript Tutorial

There are many free JavaScript tutorials to choose from on the we, but most of them are pretty old and not very user friendly! When evaluating a JavaScript tutorial, you should consider the following:

  1. Is it up to date? - JavaScript has changed a lot over the years. Be careful not to choose a tutorial that was written more than 20 years ago! You want to make sure you're using a tutorial that teaches modern JavaScript methods and doesn't teach you a lot of bad practices that are no longer used.
  2. Does it get you coding quickly? - JavaScript has a long history, but knowing it won't make you a better JavaScript coder. Before you get into the code, you just need to know a couple of things:
    1. JavaScript isn't Java.
    2. JavaScript is used to make web pages more dynamic.
  3. Is it comprehensive? - A good Introduction to JavaScript tutorial will, at a minimum, cover the following topics:
    • The DOM
    • Variables
    • Accessing and Modifying Elements and Attributes
    • Events
    • Loops
    • Conditions

In addition to our own free JavaScript tutorial (which has no ads), we recommend these other tutorials:

  1. HTML Dog's JavaScript Beginner Tutorial - a nice clean tutorial that covers the right content and doesn't have too many ads.
  2. w3schools' JavaScript Tutorial - a solid JavaScript tutorial with try-it-yourself examples.

How to Choose a JavaScript Book

It seems like every week there is a new HTML book released. On our last check, Amazon listed 5,602 HTML books and 260 in the last 12 months. Here's an excellent way to find a good introduction to HTML book on Once you identify the book you want, you can buy it from anywhere you like:

  1. Go to Amazon's Advanced Book Search.
  2. For Title, enter "JavaScript".
  3. For Subject, select "Computers & Technology" so you just get books about JavaScript programming.
  4. For the Pub Date fields, enter "After", "Jan", "2015". This will ensure that all of the content in an introductory book will still be relevant.
  5. For Sort Results by, select "Bestselling". You might be tempted to select "Avg. Customer Review", but that will result in a lot of noise as many of the books that have high average reviews only have a couple of ratings. So, your form should look like this:

    HTML Book Search
  6. Press Search
  7. On the left-hand side of the resulting search results page, under Audience, click Beginners & Seniors to filter out the books targeting experienced programmers:

    HTML Book Search: Beginners
  8. Finally, select one of the top books that looks appealing to you. You may want to use the Look Inside feature and read some of the reviews to make sure it feels like a fit.

Even with these search parameters, you get a lot of noise. If you want to skip the search and just buy a book, Learning JavaScript: JavaScript Essentials for Modern Application Development is a good option.

And, of course, if you're looking for professional JavaScript training, please check out our courses listed below.

Happy JavaScript Learning!

Author: Nat Dunn

Nat Dunn founded Webucator in 2003 to combine his passion for web development with his business expertise and to help companies benefit from both.