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Javascript Duels

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The last Friday of every cohort is graduation day. Students put the finishing touches on their independent projects and get ready to celebrate the 10-week gauntlet they’ve just made it through. Later that night, when the post-graduation celebration draws to a close and the last high-five and bittersweet goodbye fades away, Launch Academy enters the ‘Off-season,’ a time between cohorts (usually a few weeks) when the only souls on campus are the staff. Perhaps off isn’t the most accurate way to describe the weeks between cohorts—things are certainly quieter with the students gone, but the staff is as busy as ever. 

The rate of change in software development is staggering, and the offseason is dedicated to incorporating that change into fresh curriculum updates for future cohorts. In the last off-season, we decided to take our updates a step further—with an experiment. 

Javascript has been a core component in our curriculum for some time now, and as demand for it continues to grow,   adding more Javascript to our on-campus program wasn’t just a no-brainer—it was essential. The problem we faced was deciding which of the many frameworks out there to teach. It’s not too difficult to find some very strong opinions on the internet, but we decided the best way to choose which framework to teach was to form our own opinions.

Three of our Experience Engineers (EEs), Elise, Kevin, and Melissa-Leigh (a.k.a. MLG), were up for the challenge. With roughly the same amount of full-stack experience, each were prepared for an epic Javascript Duel—er, truel if you wanna get technical.

Duel Rules

Comparing one framework against another isn’t really helpful unless each is assessed on the same metrics, so the first order of business was to conceptualize the app and agree on acceptance criteria. The EEs settled on a dynamic one-page web application for book reviews that would be built in three different Javascript frameworks: React, Ember, and Angular 2.0.

Each EE would have two days to build the app in one of the frameworks and record their experience. They’d then repeat this process two more times in a different framework. By the end of the duel, the book review app would be built a total of nine times. Elise, Kevin and MLG would then compare experiences, ultimately choosing a winning framework to add to the curriculum.

Framework Evaluation

Every language and framework has a tremendous amount of depth. If we wanted to, we could spend all 10 weeks of our on-campus program teaching a single language/framework. But since we’re committed to teaching the full web development stack, we need to be sure that our curriculum incorporates a balance of breadth and depth.

We pack a heck of a lot of learning into 10 weeks, which means that adding more curriculum requires re-thinking our approach in other areas. Adding a javascript framework to the core Javascript curriculum we already teach will have ripple effects elsewhere in the curriculum. The winning framework had to be quick to pick up and implement while simultaneously providing lots of flexibility for a wide-variety of applications. A one-trick pony with limited functionality wouldn’t cut it.

With the rules laid out and the basic selection criteria in place, Kevin, Elise, and MLG got to work.

Round 1

Round 2

Round 3

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