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Basti Ortiz
Basti Ortiz

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18 Essential Videos That Fundamentally Shaped My Understanding of JavaScript

Learning JavaScript is a wild, tempestuous journey. When I first studied the language four years ago, I wouldn't have known how long this journey would be. I wouldn't have expected how my first few lines of humble JavaScript would eventually become my crucial stepping stone into the world of web development.

I owe a vast majority of my current knowledge to the pioneers who walked this journey before me. Their ideas and innovations paved the path that allowed me to stand and build on the shoulders of giants.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about facing the Unknown with an inquisitive sense of "constructive stupidity", where I advocated for acknowledging and accepting gaps in knowledge as a means of effective learning. With so much to learn about JavaScript—and web development in general—I cannot imagine how intimidating the Unknown would be for those who are new to the language as I once was, hence this article.

Below is a curated list of 18 videos and conference talks that have fundamentally shaped my understanding of JavaScript. Without these brilliant individuals making their knowledge free and available for all, I wouldn't be where I am now in my JavaScript journey.

For each of these videos, I have had a "eureka moment" that helped me piece together the bigger picture when I first watched it. I definitely required further research, but everything started to "click" from that point on. It was the missing piece to the puzzle, so to speak.

Through this list of "essential videos", I hope to nudge JavaScript developers in the right direction as the pioneers have done to me.

NOTE: Not all of the videos below are necessarily targeted towards beginners. This list tackles multiple aspects of the JavaScript ecosystem: language features, Node.js, runtime internals (such as the event loop), performance, optimizations, security, and some ES6 features.

What the heck is the event loop anyway? [Philip Roberts]

No list of "essential JavaScript videos" can ever be complete without an exploration into the legendary event loop. In this famously approachable talk, Philip Roberts sets up the foundational groundwork required to dive into the rabbit hole that is the event loop.

Further Adventures of the Event Loop [Erin Zimmer]

Now that we're equipped with the basic intuition, Erin Zimmer's talk goes deeper into the technical details of the event loop without losing sight of the approachable narrative. Through her excellent visualizations, Zimmer explains the underlying intermediate steps during each iteration of the event loop.

In The Loop [Jake Archibald]

In this talk, Jake Archibald makes the literal notion of a "loop" as the centerpiece of his event loop visualizations. Setting out to remove UI jank in the browser, he unravels the mysteries of the render loop, the globalThis.setInterval timers, and the window.requestAnimationFrame hook.

Everything You Need to Know About Node.js Event Loop [Bert Belder]

With all the confusion about the true nature of the event loop, Bert Belder debunks some unfortunately common misconceptions that arise from not-so-accurate diagrams and visualizations.

The Node.js Event Loop: Not So Single Threaded [Bryan Hughes]

The term "single-threaded" is often haphazardly thrown around when talking about JavaScript. In this talk, Bryan Hughes demonstrates how the language itself may be single-threaded, but despite that, its overall runtime is certainly not. On a related note, he discusses the implications of Node.js' finite thread pool from a performance standpoint.

Memory: Don't Forget to Take Out the Garbage [Katie Fenn]

"Memory is a finite resource. We can't add more memory into our customer's machines. We can only use it, discard it, and then reuse it. We have to be good shepherds of what is given to us because we can't get any more."

Although the JavaScript engine's internal garbage collector has made memory management a trivial topic, Katie Fenn reminds us that negligence towards memory usage has disastrous consequences when it comes to application performance and user experience. Throughout her various examples during the talk, she demostrates how easy it is to lose track of unused variables, lingering event listeners, and rogue timers.

Broken Promises [James Snell]

"In a promise chain, the only place you should have synchronous code is in the final Promise#then handler."

The introduction of ES6 promises has revolutionzed the semantics of asynchronous programming in JavaScript. However, with greater power comes a greater surface of misuse. In this talk, James Snell walks through the plethora of ways promises can, will, and have been misused. From mixed callbacks to redundant wrappers, this is a critically essential presentation on mastering promises.

You Don't Know Node [Samer Buna]

"Most educational content about Node teaches Node packages... but those Node packages actually wrap the Node runtime. And when you run into problems, you're most likely running into problems in the [Node runtime] stack itself. So if you don't know the Node runtime, you're in trouble."

With so many NPM packages abstracting away the core of Node.js, Samer Buna takes a step back to invite us to think more carefully about our familiarity with Node fundamentals. In his Q&A-style talk, Buna shares some tidbits of knowledge and trivia about the internals of Node.js.

Iterators in JavaScript using Quokka.js [Mattias Petter Johansson]

In this video, Mattias Petter Johansson (or simply "MPJ" of Fun Fun Function) explains how a for...of loop works under the hood, which is basically just a native JavaScript implementation for the Iterator Design Pattern.

Generators in JavaScript [Mattias Petter Johansson]

Refactoring the code example from his previous video on iterators, MPJ demonstrates how ES6 generators are just "syntactic sugar" over iterators.

Stream into the Future [Matteo Collina]

Streams form the foundation of Node.js' core libraries: file system interactions, data compression, and networking—all of these use streams in one way or another. After a short crash course on stream fundamentals, Matteo Collina introduces their latest achievement for Node.js: a stream abstraction that makes use of asynchronous iterators. With the for await...of loop, one can interact with streams without having to worry about the nasty memory leaks and pitfalls that Collina presents in his talk.

Learning Functional Programming with JavaScript [Anjana Vakil]

Using bright and clever analogies for terminologies and concepts, Anjana Vakil gives an approachable introduction to functional programming in JavaScript, devoid of all the intense mathematical jargon associated with it.

javaScript call apply and bind [techsith]

The idea of functions being "first-class citizens" in JavaScript often trip up many beginners—myself especially included then. When mixed in with the nuances of the this keyword, all of this just becomes one blurry mess of JavaScript jargon. In this video, "techsith" differentiates between the Function#call, Function#apply, and Function#bind methods. In doing so, he provides critical insight into fully understanding this.

Prototypes in JavaScript [Mattias Petter Johansson]

Unlike many traditional object-oriented languages such Java and C++, JavaScript does not implement the classical model of inheritance, where classes directly inherit properties and methods from their parents. Instead, JavaScript uses "prototypal inheritance", where object instances of JavaScript "classes" share and hold references to "prototype" objects.

This is quite a tricky concept to grasp. It took a very long time for everything to "click", but when it finally did, I owed much of my understanding to MPJ's series of videos on object creation. The video above served as a supplement that further solidified the big picture of prototypal inheritance.

JavaScript Event Capture, Propagation and Bubbling [Wes Bos]

The mechanisms of event dispatching and handling are integral features of the HTML DOM. In this video, Wes Bos explains what it means for events to "propagate" during the "capture phase" and the "bubble phase". Knowing when to take advantage of each phase allows for more powerful event handling techniques such as "event delegation" and default behavior cancellation.

Fizz buzzkill - Answering tricky JS interview questions [Russell Anderson]

Similar to Samer Buna's Q&A-style talk on Node fundamentals, Russell Anderson tests our general knowledge about some fundamental concepts, techniques, and idioms in the JavaScript language. In a beginner-friendly manner, he presents the answers to questions that will inevitably come up during a JavaScript interview.

Writing Secure Node Code: Understanding and Avoiding the Most Common Node.js Security Mistakes [Guy Podjarny]

Given that the JavaScript ecosystem vastly relies on shared code and deeply nested dependencies, we face a concerning reality that an overwhelming portion of the code we deploy comes from third parties. Although this arguably increases productivity and speeds up development time, it also brings the unfortunate consequence of exposing our applications to greater attack surfaces. In this talk, Guy Podjarny discusses the importance of vigilance and caution when it comes to external code.

JavaScript Metaprogramming - ES6 Proxy Use and Abuse [Eirik Vullum]

ES6 proxies enable us to intercept and hook into various aspects of the language. This new age of metaprogramming in JavaScript opens the doors to more powerful polyfills, language extensions, and custom behaviors.

However, given its immense scope over the semantics of the language, Eirik Vullum reminds us to use proxies responsibly. His talk contrasts the wondrous possibilities of proxies and its equally wondrous vectors for potential abuse.

For your convenience, I have compiled these videos into an unlisted YouTube playlist. Although I cannot possibly list down all of the videos that contributed to my understanding of JavaScript, I hope you will still find great value in my humble list of videos.

Top comments (12)

martixy profile image
Martin Ninov

Ah, yes. The event loop videos and MPJ. Great picks.

Truly no one can claim to understand js without knowledge of the event loop. It is the fundamental mechanism of concurrency. And concurrency is the primary schtick of js to begin with.

There are a few I haven't seen here. Hopefully the proxy one isn't as obvious as it seems.

utkarsh profile image
Utkarsh Talwar

Super useful article, mate. Shared it in our Telegram channel as well. So much useful info packed in one post.

Another great video for js devs:

somedood profile image
Basti Ortiz

Thank you very much! I haven't seen this talk, but I'm already very interested in the title. Bonus points for Addy Osmani, too. 😁

utkarsh profile image
Utkarsh Talwar

Addy is amazing, I agree.

On a different note, what would be the best way to get in touch with you?

Thread Thread
somedood profile image
Basti Ortiz

Well, since we're in DEV, we can use the Connect messenger. I shall follow you back.

akdeberg profile image
Anik Khan

Worth putting into my reading list.. Awesome share 🥰

bernardbaker profile image
Bernard Baker

That's a great selection of videos.

web3coach profile image
Lukas Lukac

Incredible list! Thanks for sharing!

calvin087 profile image
Calvin Torra

This is actually a very useful list. Thank you. Got my homework for the weekend sorted!

agathebadia profile image
Agathe Badia

Thanks for sharing!!

yashsolankidev profile image
Yash solanki

Thanks for sharing !