(Parts of) my element


Last Tuesday and Wednesday, I was giving a JavaScript training/workshop at a company. I’ll probably blog more on the content of this event later, but I’d like to say a few words about what this events represents to me.

I know Kung-Fu JavaScript (and learned it by myself)

My very first JavaScript was a copy/paste used to display the last modified date at the bottom of a page. It was crappy, clumpsy, using document.write but was doing the job (not on Internet Explorer 6-8, though).
Afterward, I worked several days so that the background color of a website adapts to the time of the day. Bright background during the day, dark during the night, pink fading at sun rise, orange at sunset.
Then a small script to display/hide a description of some item on a click.
I’ve had a small class at ENSEIRB-MATMECA on “Web and XML technologies”, but I haven’t really learned anything more on HTML/JS/CSS
I’ve been involved with other students in a web project that was a collaboration between my school and a company. But no one ever reviewed our code.

I’ve read things on blogs. John Resig, Nicholas Zakas, Mozilla Hacks, Kangax, Paul Irish, to name a few.
I’ve watched talks given by Douglas Crockford (in real too during my year at UCSD!!), John Resig and so many others.
I’ve listened to each and every episode of “a minute with Brendan”.
I’ve registered and participated to the WHATWG mailing-list. And more recently on the ECMAScript mailing-list (es-discuss)
I’ve contributed to MDN on JavaScript articles.
I’ve created some very modest projects on Github. I’ve worked with airportyh on Github to add array extras to older browsers with good standard support.
I’ve read a bunch of JavaScript by view-sourcing, by reading open source projects code such as jQuery.
I’ve reviewed test cases on test262.
And this is how I learned JavaScript. I don’t have a degree, nor have I had a professor on web technologies to bring me to the level I have reached. This skill is mine. No institution has educated me on the matter. The people/groups I have mentionned above were my (informal) JavaScript teachers.

Yet, without a degree, without any proof of my skill (not even with a badge 😉 ), I’ve had a contract to do company training. Someone has been able to see the passion, to see the skill, to see the intrisec value in what I could share regardless of the fact that I have no formal proof of my skill.

At the end of the training

At that workshop were people from the Java world who were doubtful on JavaScript to be a language with which you could do clean object-oriented applications. Some were relectant to JavaScript yet curious of the workshop. The same said at the end they they felt way more confident in their ability to write big clean applications.

At the end of the training/workshop, someone said “JavaScript was an incompetence I had” and this is probably the best JavaScript/education-related compliment I’ve ever received.

Overall, I’ve been able to share language fundamentals, good practices, some patterns, I’ve been able to share my passions

The “element”

Ken Robinson wrote a book and gave several talks on what he calls the “element”. It would be this thing anyone have a natural ability for. Different from person to person, of course. Yet, he’s convinced anyone has one and my only disagreement is that one can have several such “elements” and I’d consider JavaScript to be one of mine. And I think that this is the source of how I got this training. I was never formally hired. I was just trusted based on what someone saw of my passion for this technology, that it was part of my element.


I wish you, dear reader, to find your element(s) and to find one way or another to live in/with it, hopefully making a living out of it if it’s possible. You may not even need a degree as I hope I proved in this article.

Anyway, these last two days, I was in my element and it felt fucking good! I do wish you to have the occasion to feel the same.


2 thoughts on “(Parts of) my element

  1. The interesting thing about our world is that you don’t need a degree of any kind in our line of job. There’s so much money and awesome environments to be had, and you’re usually not even required to prove that you have a degree. All it takes is a bit of “show me what you got”.

    I have a bsc degree in AI, but heck if I’m using it. Keep it up! 🙂

  2. When I first worked with you during that “collaboration between [my] school and a company”, I was clearly skeptical about Javascript. First because it’s not typed, not even compiled – scary. I heard your growing passion about it, and somehow found it strange, but after all, why not.
    Then one year ago I myself discovered my IT language “element”, and I think that I can only plus-one your article, as I truly hope being able to use that element in my future professional life, although I have no degree to promote myself about it.
    I guess it’s only the beginning of your love story with Javascript. Wish me luck with mine – her name’s Scala.

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