Do you need to know Javascript to work with React?

Short answer: No.
Long answer: No, but…

React is a library written with javascript. You could be blindly following React tutorials without knowing lick of javascript and end up using javascript anyway without even knowing it.

Due to popularity of React, many beginning front-end developers delve right into React without knowing any other language. That’s okay. Many get by using React doing just that. However, just as any programming practice (or anything in life for that matter), merely following what you’re told has its limits. Only way to gain mastery is to understand why you’re doing what you do.

Some students prefer following sample React projects from beginning to end. Many classes take this approach mainly because it’s an easier way to lead a class. This approach has some advantages as it typically covers wider spectrum of the library. But bear in mind, most of these projects are conjured up assuming the most ideal scenario. In reality, you rarely get a chance to build a brand new React application from scratch. More so if you’re a noob.

Knowing the syntax and how things work is only a sliver of what makes a great programmer. These are things that have objective answers and are readily available upon search. The real skills of programming are how you solve problems during not-so ideal situations. In the real world, the not so-ideal is the norm.

If you’re only trained to follow the instructions you’ll not be able to respond effectively when the real-world problems strike. This is where knowing the “why” comes in handy. Understanding React is far easier for someone with a javascript background. Because React is javascript, essentially. They just need to wrap their head around the concept of JSX a bit. Even that becomes second nature quickly. You’ll see why things are written in certain way and why things work the way they do.

React has served as a gateway for many beginners into javascript. Although, that exact order isn’t what I’d recommend, it’s an agreeable path given the recent trend. As long as one has javascript knowledge along with React, they’re sure to complement each other. And that goes a long, long way when you’re faced with problems in a not-so ideal world and situations.

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