As a front-end developer, I’ve never had a mentor; at least not a face to face mentor. The closest I’ve had to a coding mentor was my ActionScript instructor, Liza Brown from Inkling, when I was in design school. Like many other front-end developers, I’ve learned through books, blogs, studying the code of others, experimenting and of course through doing — tackling the problems I come across as I work.
In a profession that is full of the self-taught, mentors and teachers are important. Mentors and teachers play a significant role in passing on the collected wisdom and knowledge of the community — to the community.
These developers are not only critical practitioners with deep knowledge they are born teachers who have contributed a wealth of educational material available for free online. They give presentations, write, share the work of others, teach through real projects and their code is full of useful comments thoughtfully written with the intention of guiding and teaching.
What each of these people have in common is an ability to use the tools of our trade as a medium for education. Building applications, solving broken tests and experimenting with working applications are typically the route most of us take into development. The difference here, is that these are guided learning experiences focused on the quality of the solutions produced.
If you haven’t checked out their contributions to the open source developer community, I highly recommend taking a look. A quick Google or Github search will reveal numerous articles, podcasts, screencasts and projects to explore. The following is a list a few of my favorite projects.
Ruby on Rails Tutorial (online for free or purchase )
Ruby on Rails Tutorial is an in-depth guided journey through developing a basic Rails application. Hartl’s book/tutorial served as my gateway into the world of web app development along with Ruby, Rails, MVC, the command line, Github and test-driven development at a time when all of these things were relatively unknown to the majority of front-end developers.
In addition to contributing to open source projects like jQuery, Modernizr and more recently Yeoman, Addy Osmani has contributed a large amount of writing to the developer community.
(online for free
or purchase )
jQuery Fundamentals started as an open source book. The book is now an interactive website maintained by Bocoup covering the basics of jQuery including AJAX & deferreds.
I’ve highlighted three developers, but I do realize that this doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of all the amazing web developers and front-end developers who are actively contributing to the craft, the open source community and passing on knowledge. To each of these developers, I say thank you!
- The “thank you” that changed my life by Nicholas C. Zakas
- Developers we admire by Paul Irish
- Getting involved with open source by Addy Osmani