Learn Mern, React First – part 1

Learn Mern, React First


I already have a working knowledge of MongoDB, Node and Express but not React. In order to refer to myself as MERN stack enabled, I’ve needed to learn React. I also want to be able to develop phone apps and React-native is touted as being excellent for that so I set out to seriously learn react from the ground up.

It has been a big jump to learn to use React and Redux for constructing web frontends. ES6 is a good part of the reason there is much to learn, but there is also JSX, a react way to combine HTML and javascript.

React prefers the use of ES6, which is the next generation of javascript. I am told that you can use ES5 (the more widely known version of javascript), but I have not seen much in the way of learning materials for learning React with ES5 only.

ES6 is available now in the most current editions of widely used browsers and support is good in node. There are transpilers that allow ES6 to be compiled down into ES5 so React written in ES6 can run on older browsers.

I looked around at various books, websites and videos in order to find something that would allow me to get up to speed in React. I came to this task with a good working knowledge of ES5, Express, Node and Npm. It seems like installing almost any front-end packages or tool chains requires some Node and React is not different. I settled on Stephen Grider’s Udemy.com course called Modern React With Redux.

That course involved about 150 video segments totaling over 22 hours. However, you can’t sit down and expect to go through the course in 22 hours of video watching. You need to work through code yourself while following the videos. That means a lot of pausing the video while you switch to your code editor to duplicate what Grider is doing.

It took me about 75 hours of screen time to get through the course. You could easily do that in 2 weeks of full time effort, but I have a day job so I did about 2 hours per day and it took 46 days.

Grider is verbose in his approach to teaching and I found that extremely helpful. He constantly re-summarized and developed the material very thoroughly. I recommend the course.

But, this course really only gets you React and Redux. It shows how to hook onto some commercial APIs like Youtube. But if you want to get the rest of the MERN stack, you’ll have to look elsewhere. For that I am currently engaged with Alex Paterson’s “React Native with An Express/MongoDB Backend.”

Paterson’s course is extremely Mac centric. But I am after the React-native elements, anyway, in order to do phone apps and a Mac is essential for doing iPhone apps. So, I bought a Mac Mini for doing this course. I am such an open source snob that buying a Mac was like pulling teeth! But my heuristic is that I will not use closed source unless there is no reasonable open source alternative.

In addition, Paterson’s course moves at a much more brisk pace than the Grider course. There is much less molly-coddling and hand-holding in Paterson’s videos. I’m only half way through this course, so I will reserve judgement until I get all the way through, though I can says that so far I am learning the material.


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