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I have just started a new job as a front end web developer, this is my second day and I have just been handed quite a big project that involves lots of javascript which I dont know, this is leaving me extremely stressed (last night I couldnt get to sleep with worry) basically I got the job from the boss of the company phoning me up and asking me for a chat which then ended up in a job offer which I accepted, my previous role was just css and html with the odd little piece of jquery here and there and now this is way outside my comfort zone. What should I do? Against my name in here it says my name + DHTML, CSS and JQuery?

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migrated from May 4 '11 at 14:42

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closed as not constructive by ChrisF Dec 15 '11 at 17:25

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I sympathize, but this is off-topic on SO (and possibly on programmers as well, not sure), and I'm not sure what kind of advice you're expecting? Admitting that you are out of your depth with the work presented, and seeing what happens, sounds like a good option, though. – Pekka 웃 May 4 '11 at 14:41
You should go back and fess up to the guy and tell him you jumped the gun and really don't feel comfortable doing the job. As hard as it is now, the longer you wait, the harder it will be to tell him and the more damage you will cause. – Crayon Violent May 4 '11 at 14:42
Take this hint. Avoid run-on sentences. One verb per sentence. Paragraphs help. Punctuation helps. Please clarify and focus. – S.Lott May 4 '11 at 14:55
First, breathe. Second, what is the timeline on this project? How soon are you expected to produce something? How critical is it? If you're expected to produce a finished product by the end of the week, then yeah, you need to talk to somebody. But if you have more than a couple of weeks? This may be an opportunity for you to pick up new skills and diversify, which is never a bad thing. Growth hurts sometimes. – John Bode May 4 '11 at 15:06
@JasonFruit: When one is feeling overwhelmed, slowing down, clarifying the real issues, and getting one thing done correctly is how many of us cope. One important way to avoid the feeling of overwhelmed is to focus and do one thing correctly, neatly and well. – S.Lott May 4 '11 at 15:11

12 Answers 12

First - relax.

Second - decide if JavaScript is something you want to learn, and whether you have desire to be someone involved with some level of programming, or whether you want to stick to design/html, css. My advice would be that to keep the level of opportunities up, and keep your skills valuable, JavaScript would be a worthy investment - however you need to decide if this is the road that you want to go down.

Finally - if you decide this is something you want to invest in, read, read, read and ask questions. Learn the fundamentals of programming and get through some basic tasks, like anything it'll come with practice. If you decide it's not something you want to do - start looking for a new job, and be particular about the type of job you apply for.

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There is a very good tutorial to start learning jQuery. You should feel comfortable enough after reading it.

This guide is an introduction to the jQuery library. Basic knowledge of JavaScript and the document object model (DOM) is required. It starts from ground up and tries to explain details where necessary. It covers a simple hello world example, selector and event basics, AJAX, FX and usage and authoring of plugins.

This guide contains no "click me" examples. The intention of providing only "copy me" code is to invite you to try it for yourself. Copy an example, see what it does, and modify it...

In my opinion knowing about a little bit jQuery and learning the fundamentals of the framework from a well written source makes a big difference. Along the way learning about jQuery itself would give one good enough Javascript knowledge and productivity far beyond studying Javascript alone, which results in self confidence.

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-1 - I'm not sure why this got upvoted so much, but the OP says that he knows a bit of jQuery and is struggling with the javascript. Learning more about jQuery will waste time that could be spent on javascript basics. – Jetti May 4 '11 at 15:29
In my opinion knowing about a little bit jQuery and learning the fundamentals of the framework from a well written source makes a big difference. Along the way learning about jQuery itself would give one good enough Javascript knowledge and productivity far beyond studying Javascript alone, which results in self confidence. – Yasin Bahtiyar May 4 '11 at 16:09
that may be true, but to me, it makes more sense to learn the language instead of a library first. – Jetti May 4 '11 at 17:40

1. How have you marketed your self (e.g in your CV)? Have you explicitly said your are a web developer OR a web designer?

2. If you got the job under the pre-tense of being a web developer, then you should be able to work with JavaScript, if not ask for help/training.

3. If you got the job as a web designer then this is outside of your remit, and you should inform your boss as such.

It really depends on what exactly your job role is.

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I agree with this assessment. Assuming you didn't lie to get this job (in which case, you reap what you sow) then you need to communicate with your boss about the problem. – jhocking May 4 '11 at 17:45

Being outside your comfort zone can be a good thing. My advice would be to start small and focus on the basics of what you're being asked to do. Try to define the skeleton of your project and do use the experience you do have to keep this in your comfort zone.

Keep a very frequently updated TODO list, and keep only small, achievable things there. This works like a mini-scrum, and often works great for a single developer.

Finally, know when you're researching versus when you're developing. When you don't know how to do something (say, with jquery), write lots of throwaway sample programs. When you've reached some comfort level, do it in the real code.

Overall, don't focus on the mountain, focus on the trail.

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+1 for "Don't focus on the mountain, focus on the trail." – StuperUser May 5 '11 at 20:02

For what it's worth, my initial reaction to any assignment with a high percentage of unfamiliar technology is something like yours. As Tim says, first relax. No one is ever really productive on day 1 of a new project (well, at least I'm not...), and panic is really non-productive. Then start learning the code base you've been handed. JasonFruit and Max have given you some great advice. I've had to learn new technologies under the gun, and if I can do it, I'm confident that any reasonably intelligent programmer can.

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If I were you, I would definitely explain the situation to my boss. It is probably OK that you need to learn JavaScript, but they should know about it - you won't be as productive as seasoned developer. The reason you should explain the situation is, they would probably expect something from you and if they do not have a clue that you might a little help, they might get a false impression about your productivity.

So unless you lied in your interview (which I doubt from what you have written), it might be a good idea to tell your boss about your fears. Since you are just a few days there, it should be kind of expected that you need some time.

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Exactly right. Make sure your boss is aware, let them know that the Javascript stuff will take you a little longer. Try to be cool, try to get help here. Don't try and bluff it out. – Steve Haigh May 5 '11 at 14:23

Consider jQuery is a really popular JS library and very powerful. This book covers the library in a very modular way and covers the prerequisite JS needed to effectively use and understand the jQuery in client-side RAD.

The second edition covers up to 1.4, make sure you read up .on() and .prop() and the deferred object.

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would you mind explaining more on what it does and why do you recommend it as answering the question asked? "Link-only answers" are not quite welcome at Stack Exchange – gnat May 12 '13 at 21:59
@gnat, brought this up to scratch (hopefully) – StuperUser May 12 '13 at 22:17

Looking at other's code is always hard, especially the beginning. If you're proficient with JavaScript, you should be able to pick it up relatively quickly (1week-2weeks). If you're not proficient with JavaScript, I recommend you learn JavaScript quickly. There are a lot of good books out there such as DOM Scripting.

Sleep when you get the chance.

Also you're always gonna meet new challenges in a new job, just don't get stressed out

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The only thing for it is to learn JavaScript. It's not that hard, and if you keep calm and employ strong Google-fu, you'll be able to keep up. The best way to learn, anyway, is when you're being paid to use the results: you'll learn faster and have more motivation.

And get some sleep --- you learn better that way.

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First steps first. Get comfortable with source control, or make constant backups of your stuff - that way you can undo your changes - you can feel comfortable breaking stuff.

Second, there are only Javascript sites like that let you write javascript in the browser and see the effects - so this helps you learn Javascript.

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please don't recommend w3schools. – Wooble May 4 '11 at 14:44
If you want to experiment with JavaScript in a browser window, jsFiddle is the place to be. – Carson63000 May 4 '11 at 21:33
@Carson63000: I would suggest adding that as an answer – Chris Kaminski May 4 '11 at 21:58

The best place to learn JQuery seems to be the JQuery site itself — it's surprisingly easy to pick up, just give it a few days and don't worry about it.

You may want to also tell your boss that you're not really up to speed on JavaScript and that it'll take a bit more time to ship this project than your usual turnaround.

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I'm a firm believer in keeping the management (i.e. "your boss") informed about your work issues, and this would certainly count. A good chat with him/her would at least alleviate some of your stress! Finally, the other great advice about embracing this unknown is well worth heeding. Provided your boss interviewed you properly, perhaps he/she sees potential in your skill set!

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