Review: Introduction to Node.js (edX)

It’s been a while since I’ve written any posts here due to a personal hiatus I took starting last summer. Today will mark a return to a more active status. However, instead of following the weekly schedule that I had before, I won’t be sticking to any regular schedule for the foreseeable future and will be posting on a more spontaneous basis. I’ll be trying to write new posts at least once a month if I can, and maybe even more often (possibly bi-weekly?), but won’t be guaranteeing any particular schedule from now on.

That said, on to today’s review of Introduction to Node.js by Linux Foundation on edX.

I completed this course recently “unofficially” (as in, audited it without paying to upgrade to take the exams), and went into it hoping that it would do exactly what the title promised – that is, provide a practical introduction to Node.js. Although I can say that it certainly did do that, this course has a ton of caveats, and after completing the course content, I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone new to Node.js that would be expecting a beginner-level intro. In fact, since my review of this course is more negative than positive, I’m going to list out the cons first:

  • The entirety of the course involves copying segments of code into your code editor, which are NOT explained line by line. These code segments span across multiple files as well, and the absence of line-by-line code explanations did not promote any learning. It needs to be said that learning to code is usually done by writing code line by line, not by providing large segments to copy-paste.
  • Content/material is not accessible to first-time users of Node.js
    • Node.js itself is not explained in any detail (i.e. its purpose, how to architect a basic app, etc)
    • NPM and the package.json file are not explained in any detail
    • The topic of CommonJS and ES Modules is extremely glossed over
    • The content quickly introduces many concepts without explaining them – i.e., servers, HTTP requests & responses, the Fastify framework, routes, services, sockets, and more
    • Fastify itself is not explained in detail
    • The topic of Node.js frameworks is not covered in detail

There are however these pros to the course:

  • Heavily text-based approach instead of video content (which is typical for courses on edX), which makes it faster to get through
  • Completing the “code along” exercise in the course is a decent way to find out how to build a Fastify app

Conclusion: This course could have been so much better, and was ultimately a huge disappointment. In fact, the quality of the course turned out to be poor enough that I would not recommend that anyone take it for any reason whatsoever, especially when there are much better introductory courses for Node.js on other platforms like Lynda / LinkedIn Learning and Udemy. It’s obvious that a fair amount of honest effort went into this course – it’s just unfortunate that all of that effort was misdirected and misguided. In the end, the only thing that I personally learned from this course was the Fastify framework, and nothing new about Node.js itself.

Rating: 1 out of 5