7 Best Books to Become a Front-End Developer in 2021

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As someone who has been a front-end developer for many years, let me tell you — front-end development is a profession that moves lightning-fast. New frameworks, libraries, and technologies are emerging all the time.

And yet, front-end development can be the most underrated development profession. But in 2021, that’s changing.

Front-end development is not just good ol’ HTML and CSS anymore. Modern front-end developers know at least one modern framework like React or Vue. They know modern JavaScript and often use TypeScript. In other words — it’s getting complicated.

This can be overwhelming, but a path to front-end development is in reach. With some books, some courses, and some practice — you can start a front-end development career.

In this article, let’s talk about some of the books you might want in your library to prepare you for a career change into front-end web development.

 

Why Learn Front End Development

Here are few reasons you should learn front end development:

  • Front-end web developers are in demand: Front-end web developers are in great demand these days. For any commercial websites or apps, a front-end developer is needed for any application because that matters more.

  • Front-end development is a lucrative career: Front-End Development has been one of the most sought-after professional choices among students and working professionals. If you want to boost your career opportunities and income, you should start learning Front-End Development.

  • It's a constantly evolving field: Front-end web development is an exciting career because it’s always evolving and constantly changing. This means you’ll always have the opportunity to interact with new tools and learn new skills, keeping you engaged in your career. It’s a field that provides many opportunities for hands-on learning.

  • Gives flexibility to developers: As a front-end developer, you can work from anywhere, including at home. This makes it one of the most flexible careers you can choose. 

  • It's about creativity: Front-end web development is all about creativity and creative problem-solving. As a front-end web developer, the sky's the limit to build customized websites to create the best possible user experience.

 

What Makes The Best Front-end Development Books? 

Books are a great reference tool that will help you throughout your frontend developer journey. It is sometimes overwhelming and confusing to decide which book to pick. Here are our criteria for the selection of the books:

  • The book should contain a variety of instructional materials, including exercises, examples, questions, learning activities, and other features that promote the reader's engagement and active learning.

  • It uses clear, precise, and easy-to-understand language.

  • Content must be up-to-date and should thoroughly teach and explain the basic concepts of front-end development.

  • Contain assignments for practice and hands-on experience.

  • The book should have a clear layout.

 

Best Books for Front-end Developers

To help you in selecting a well-structured and latest book for front-end developers, we have narrowed it down to the best books for front-end developers. 

 

1. Best Book for Learning React: The Road to React (2020 Edition)

React is the top framework for front-end developers. If you are going on the job hunt, be prepared to be asked about React — because you will be asked — a lot.

The Road to React, by Robin Wieruch, teaches you the fundamentals of React in a clean, pragmatic, no-nonsense way. I have personally benefitted from this book after sifting through so many React books that could not keep their focus.

You will build a real-world application without complicated tooling. It explains general concepts, patterns, and best practices in a real-world React application.

The book uses a step-by-step approach to explore the concepts of React and how to use them in modern client applications to power our frontend. The contents covered in the book are: 

  • Fundamentals of React

  • React’s Legacy

  • Styling in React

  • React Maintenance

  • Real World React (Advanced)

  • Deploying a React Application

The book comes with additional referenced reading material with each chapter. There are plenty of exercises after each chapter of the book. Besides, the reader will learn how to test their React components and how to organize them in the project.

This is a great book to begin expanding your knowledge of building and using React components.

For more best books on learning React, see these top 5 React books.

 

2. Best Book For Learning JavaScript: JavaScript: The Definitive Guide

JavaScript: The Definitive Guide absolutely must be mentioned. It has been lauded and praised as a classic JavaScript book, but now it’s worth picking up again because it has a fresh August 2020 edition.

This title is about 700 pages and has the goal of serving as a complete JavaScript reference — perfect for getting a deep understanding of JavaScript for not just beginners, but for intermediate and advanced coders. Despite its large size, the edition of this book was cut significantly from the previous version.

This book has stood the test of time. Readers love JavaScript: The Definitive Guide for its simple, elegant explanations of complex topics. At its now-7th edition, this book is tried and tested.

Few JavaScript books have as many raving fans as this new edition. I highly recommend picking it up.

Here is roughly what is covered in this definitive edition of JavaScript goodness:

  • Introduction to JavaScript, which explores JavaScript, the classic ‘hello world’, a tour of JavaScript, and more.

  • Lexical structure, which includes the text of the JavaScript Program, comments, literals, identifiers and reserved words, Unicode, optional semicolons, and more.

  • Types, values, and variables, which go over numbers, text, boolean values, null and undefined, symbols, global object, immutable primitive values as well as mutable object references, type conversions, variable declaration, and assignment.

  • Expressions and operators, which include primary expressions, object and array initializers, function definition expressions, property access expressions, invocation expressions, object creation expressions, operator overview, arithmetic expressions, relational expressions, logical expressions, assignment expressions, evaluation expressions, and more.

  • Statements, which include expression statements, compound and empty statements, conditionals, loops, jumps, miscellaneous statements, declarations, and more.

  • Objects, which includes creating objects, querying and setting properties, deleting properties, testing properties, enumerating properties, extending objects, serializing objects, object methods, extended object literal syntax, and more.

  • Arrays, which includes creating arrays, reading and writing array elements, sparse arrays, array length, adding and deleting array elements, iterating arrays, multidimensional arrays, array methods, array-like objects, strings as arrays, and more.

  • Functions, which include defining functions, invoking functions, function arguments, and parameters, functions as values, functions as namespaces, closures, functional programming, and more.

  • Classes, which include classes and prototypes, classes and constructors, classes with the class keyword, adding methods to existing classes, subclasses, and more.

  • Modules, which includes modules with classes, objects, and closures, modules in node, modules in ES6, and more.

  • The JavaScript Standard Library, which includes sets and maps, typed arrays and binary data, pattern matching with regular expressions, dates and times, error classes, JSON serialization and parsing, the internationalization API, the console API, URL APIs, timers, and more.

  • Iterators and generators, which include how iterators work, implementing iterable objects, generators, advanced generator features, and more.

  • Asynchronous JavaScript, which includes asynchronous programming with callbacks, promises, async and await, asynchronous iteration, and more.

  • Metaprogramming, which includes property attributes, object extensibility, the prototype attribute, well-known symbols, template tags, the reflect API, proxy objects, and more.

  • JavaScript in Web Browsers, which includes web programming basics, events, scripting documents, scripting CSS, document geometry and scrolling, web components, SVGs, canvas, audio APIs, networking, storage, worker threads, and more.

  • Server-Side JavaScript with Node, which includes node programming basics, asynchronous by default, buffers, events, streams, process, HTTP clients, non-HTTP network servers, child processors, worker threads, and more.

  • JavasScript Tools and Extensions, which includes linting with ESLint, JavaScript formatting with Prettier, unit testing with Jest, package management with npm, code bundling, transpilation with Babel, JSX, type checking with Flow, and more.

For more information best books on JavaScript, see these top 9 best JavaScript books.

 

Other books you may be interested in:

 

3. Best Book for Learning Vue: Fullstack Vue

Like React, Vue is a modern JavaScript framework that is a desirable skill for front-end developers. Fullstack Vue by Hassan Djirdeh, Nate Murray, and Ari Lerner is a tutorial-driven book that will have you writing Vue apps. The book includes many examples combined with technical explanations. It explains the concepts in a simple and understandable manner.

The book is divided into eight chapters. Every chapter focuses on a different part of the ecosystem.

  • Chapter 1 guides you to get started with Vue.js

  • Chapter 2 covers Single-file Components

  • Chapter 3 covers Custom Events

  • Chapter 4 gives the introduction to Vuex4

  • Chapter 5 covers Vuex and Servers

  • Chapter 6 talks about Form Handling

  • Chapter 7 covers Routing

  • Chapter 8 guides you on Unit Testing

Each chapter in the book comes with a complete project that uses the concepts in a practical and runnable format. This book is a must-read to master the Vue.js framework. 

The great news is that you are not getting just a book, but access to live code examples.

For more best books on learning Vue, see these top 5 best Vue books.

 

4. Best Book for Learning TypeScript: Effective TypeScript

If you want to be a front-end developer today, you can’t get away from TypeScript. It has become a staple in many codebases.

Effective TypeScript: 62 Specific Ways to Improve Your TypeScript by Dan Vanderkam is a 2020 O’Reilly publication designed specifically to improve your skills as a TypeScript developer.

The beauty of this book is in how opinionated it is, creating rules and preferences to follow all throughout the book. Yet, unlike the others TypeScript books, it remains isolated from other tools like React or Angular. This book is unique in that it self-purports to be your “second book on TypeScript,” but this book is on the list because of its great quality and value to all learners of TypeScript.

This TypeScript book can be paired with another TypeScript book on this list because the value of this book is unique.

This book is actionable, easy to apply, and helps you become a better TypeScript developer right away.

Effective Typescript includes the following sections:

  • Chapter 1: Getting to Know TypeScript, which includes understanding TypeScript vs JavaScript, knowing which TypeScript options you’re using, understanding that cod generation is independent of types, getting comfortable with structural typing, and limiting the use of any one type.

  • Chapter 2: TypeScript’s Type System, which includes using your editor to interrogate the type system, thinking of types as sets of values, knowing how to tell the type of a symbol, preferring type declarations to type assertions, avoiding object wrapper types, recognizing the limits of excess property checking, applying types to entire function expressions, knowing the difference between type and inheritance, and more.

  • Chapter 3: Type Interference, which includes avoiding clustering your code with inferable types, using different variables for different types, understanding type widening, understanding type narrowing, creating objects all at once, being consistent with aliases, using async functions instead of callbacks for asynchronous code, and more.

  • Chapter 4: Type Design, which includes preferring types that always represent valid states, avoiding repeating type information in documentation, pushing null values to the perimeter of your types, and more.

  • Chapter 5: Working with any, which includes using the narrowest possible scope for any type, preferring more precise variants of any to plain any, hiding unsafe type assertions, and more.

  • Chapter 6: Types Declarations and @types, which includes putting TypeScript and @types in devDependencies, understanding the three versions involved in type declarations, exporting all types that appear in public APIs, and more.

  • Chapter 7: Writing and Running Your Code, which includes preferring ECMAScript features to TypeScript features, knowing how to iterate over objects, understanding the DOM hierarchy, and more.

  • Chapter 8: Migrating to TypeScript, which includes writing modern JavaScript, using @ts-check and JSDoc to experiment with TypeScript, using allowJs to mix TypeScript and JavaScript, and more.

For more best books on learning TypeScript, see these top 3 books on TypeScript.

 

5. Best All-in-One Book: HTML, CSS, and JavaScript All in One

Sams Teach Yourself HTML, CSS, and JavaScript All in One by Jennifer Kyrnin and Julie Meloni is a must-read book for every front-end developer. It helps to learn how to use HTML, CSS, and JavaScript together to design, create, and maintain websites.

The book clear, step-by-step instructions and practical, hands-on examples to guide the beginner through these three interconnected technologies. It also includes quizzes and exercises to test your knowledge and stretch your skills.

The book is divided into twenty-eight lessons. They are well designed and simple to understand. Here's what you will learn in these lessons:

  • Build your own web page and get it online in an instant

  • Format text for maximum clarity and readability

  • Create links to other pages and other sites

  • Add graphics, color, and visual pizzazz to your web pages

  • Work with transparent images and background graphics

  • Design your site's layout and typography using CSS

  • Make elements move on your page with CSS transformations and transitions

  • Animate with CSS and the HTML5 Canvas element

  • Write HTML that's responsive web design-ready

  • Design a site for mobile devices

  • Use CSS media queries and breakpoints

  • Get user input with web-based forms

  • Use JavaScript to build dynamic, interactive web pages

  • Add AJAX effects to your web pages

  • Leverage JavaScript libraries such as jQuery

  • Make your site easy to maintain and update as it grows

HTML5, CSS3, and ECMAScript 6 standards are thoughtfully integrated into every lesson. Each lesson builds on the previous ones, enabling readers to learn the essentials from the ground up.

 

6. Best Book for Responsive Design: Responsive Web Design with HTML5 and CSS

Responsive Web Design with HTML5 and CSS by Ben Frain helps you understand what responsive web design is and its significance for modern web development. It explores the latest developments in responsive web design including variable fonts, CSS Scroll Snap, and more. The book helps you learn the uses and benefits of the new CSS Grid layout.

After reading the book, you will be able to:

  • Integrate CSS media queries into your designs; apply different styles to different devices

  • Load different sets of images depending upon screen size or resolution

  • Leverage the speed, semantics, and clean markup of accessible HTML patterns

  • Implement SVGs into your designs to provide resolution-independent images

  • Apply the latest features of CSS like custom properties, variable fonts, and CSS Grid

  • Add validation and interface elements like date and color pickers to HTML forms

  • Understand the multitude of ways to enhance interface elements with filters, shadows, animations

This book is divided into eleven chapters and includes the following contents:

  • Chapter 1 covers the essentials of Responsive Web Design

  • Chapter 2 talks about writing HTML Markup

  • Chapter 3 covers Media Queries while supporting differing viewports

  • Chapter 4 covers Fluid Layout, Flexbox, and Responsive Images

  • Chapter 5 covers Layout with CSS Grid

  • Chapter 6 talks about CSS Selectors, Typography, Color Modes, and more

  • Chapter 7 covers stunning aesthetics with CSS

  • Chapter 8 talks about using SVGs for Resolution Independence

  • Chapter 9 covers Transitions, Transformations, and Animations

  • Chapter 10 covers Conquer Forms with HTML5 and CSS

  • Chapter 11 talks about bonus techniques and parting advice

If you need a deep understanding of responsive web designs and how to achieve them, this is a book for you! All you need is a working understanding of HTML and CSS.

 

7. Best Book for Fundamentals: JavaScript and JQuery

While this book is typically older than what I would recommend, this book stands out as a beautifully designed book that teaches fundamentals with grace.

JavaScript and JQuery: Interactive Front-End Web Development by Jon Duckett enables readers to learn JavaScript & jQuery side-by-side for getting started with web development. This book is designed to guide you through JS programming challenges in a fun way. It has a visually rich format and breaks down complex aspects of JavaScript and JQuery and makes them simple to understand. 

The JavaScript and JQuery book covers basic programming concepts, core elements of the JavaScript language, jQuery, and plenty of other topics. As you go through the book, it will help you in the following aspects:

  • Introduces core programming concepts in JavaScript and jQuery

  • Teaches you how to create scripts from scratch

  • Demonstrates the latest practices in progressive enhancement and cross-browser compatibility

  • Make your sites more interactive

  • Use jQuery to simplify your code

  • Recreate popular web techniques

This book will teach you how to make your websites more interactive, engaging, and usable. If you are new to JavaScript and jQuery, then this book is for you.

 

Bonus book: "Front-End Tooling with Gulp, Bower, and Yeoman"

Front-End Tooling with Gulp, Bower, and Yeoman by Stefan Baumgartner is a great how-to guide for learning and using Gulp, Bower, and Yeoman more effectively in web development. The book shows you how you can set up an efficient automated development workflow for web projects.

The book will help you understand the big picture of the development process. It is very nicely written and well-illustrated. It delves into the importance of each tool and how it is structured. 

The book is divided into 10 chapters and includes the following contents: 

  • Chapter 1 talks about Tooling in a modern Front End Workflow

  • Chapter 2 helps in getting started with Gulp

  • Chapter 3 covers Gulp Setup for Local Development

  • Chapter 4 covers Dependency Management with Bower

  • Chapter 5 covers Scaffolding with Yeoman

  • Chapter 6 covers Gulp for different environments

  • Chapter 7 talks about working with Streams

  • Chapter 8 talks about extending Gulp

  • Chapter 9 guides you to create  Modules and Bower Components

  • Chapter 10 covers Advanced Yeoman Generators

This is a worthy book for web developers with JavaScript experience. So just start and let your creativity flourish.

 

More Ways to Learn Front-End Development

These were some of the best books available for front-end developers. You can take your front-end development skills to journey a level up with these books.

To increase your immersion and learn faster, I recommend different types of input, including interactive and video courses.

If you’re interested in going beyond reading, here are some courses to consider: 

  • Codecademy: If you want to build interactive, dynamic web apps, learn design fundamentals, and prepare for job interviews, Codecademy offers a Front-End Engineer career path that teaches literally every skill needed on the job, including Git version control and React. For more on Codecademy Pro, see my Codecademy Pro review.

  • Coursera: Coursera's HTML, CSS, and Javascript for Web Developers by Yaakov Chaikin is a beneficial course for every type of learner. I have personally taken Yaakov’s classes and think he’s one of the best, most upbeat instructors out there.

Also, if you’re interested in even more free resources, I have over 70 vetted learning resources for developers in this article. Enjoy your front-end development journey. See you in another article! 👋 😊

 
Miranda Limonczenko

Miranda is the founder of Books on Code, with a mission to bring book-lover culture to programmers. Learn more by checking out Miranda on LinkedIn.

http://booksoncode.com
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