More help for beginners

(Vilidat) #1

Although I’m relatively new to web development, MDN has been indispensable to advancing my knowledge! The tutorials and explanations provided both a reaffirming foundation and consistent growth, where other sites stopped at a shaky foundation.

I’ve gotten to the point where I think I am knowledgeable enough to be more independent. I’d like to start reading through MDN’s References as a supplement to the tutorials. However, I’m finding it difficult to confidently understand (parent) articles in their entirety and what are their relation to other (child) articles ( i.e. the element input - what are all its available properties & methods? ).

I specifically came across this when I was working on A first splash into JavaScript. I tried to learn everything i could about the input element, its properties and methods, and its relationship with the focus method from the References articles. When I reviewed the input article I could not find mention of the focus method. So I made a separate search for focus which only made mention of the input element in the example. Maybe this was a bad example as the input article is still not complete. Still What bothers me is that if it wasn’t for the tutorial utilizing and explaining the focus method I would have not learned it from the Reference articles on my own.

I’m positive that this problem is caused by my own inexperience and impatience, but I did wish I could have still just dived in. I don’t know if these are useful enough to consider creating, but if worth it i would love to see:

  • An introduction to the main Reference page explaining how to read through and generally interpret the articles

  • A how to read web docs for beginners. (I still can’t understand most library web docs on a basic reading level).

  • Consolidate articles that work for or within one another to strengthen foundational learning among beginners.

What do you think? Or have I just jumped the gun and need to go over more tutorials?

Edit: One more addition and a edited the last line

About the MDN category
About the MDN category
(Chris Mills) #2

Hi there Villidat — thank you for your thoughtful message. This is a very real problem that we are still thinking about.

The trouble is that the MDN reference material assumes a decent level of comprehension of the subjects already — i.e. you should already know the relationship between the HTML and JS parts, and you are just looking up syntax and examples.

The tutorials were specifically added to help people that haven’t already got this knowledge. BUT, it is still hard to find the tutorial to help you if you get to the reference material and don’t know how to use it :wink:

Your suggestions are really good. Often, we do have landing explanation pages for reference materials, like in the API reference pages. As an example, you’ve got this page to explain how the parts of the WebVR API fit together:

But it is not quite as easy for all the different HTML stuff, as there is such a lot of it.

We could really do with better linking between the reference material, and beginner’s tutorials that would help at each point. Again, not a simple thing to do.

But I think your first two points should be added to the beginner’s docs asap, as a kind of “how to read the reference material” guide for beginners. That is a great first step!

Thank you,


(Janet Swisher) #3

I split this thread off from the “About MDN” topic.

(Eric Shepherd) #4

For what it’s worth, fixing issues like this related to linking across content (between reference and tutorial materials in this case, in particular) is going to be resolved by the SEO project if it’s not already done by the time the SEO efforts get to it. Improving links between related content, such as reference and tutorial linkages, is a major goal, and one we’ll definitely be inviting the community to help with, since it’s one that can be contributed to quite easily even by casual contributors.

You can expect to hear more about ways to help our SEO efforts in the future (although they may not be expressly referred to as part of the SEO work).


(Chris Mills) #5

Cool, thanks for sharing this sheppy. I’m very excited to see how to SEO work will catalyze improvements here.

(Vilidat) #6

If MDN’s tutorials are anything to go by for how you might implement a kind of ‘beginner reference helper’, I’m sure it will be easily digestible and helpful. Thanks for the great response Chris!