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How to build JavaScript projects from scratch

One of the more common challenges I hear from both new and mid-level developers is around starting projects from scratch.

You might take a course, attend a bootcamp, or watch a bunch of videos on YouTube. You work on some practice projects or follow along on some exercises, and things seem to make sense… until you go to start a project from scratch and don’t know where to start.

The Vanilla JS Academy is a series of workshops design to address this specific problem.

How it works

Over the six-week program, you get more than 70 lessons and work on 18 projects. Here’s how it works…

  • Every other day, you get a project to work on, 1-3 short lessons that provide some background, and a template to help you get started.
  • On the in-between days, I share my approach to the project and some of the common challenges and “gotchas” that students often run into.

If you get stuck, there’s a 24/7 private Slack channel exclusively for students. You’re going to be interacting with other people going through this program at the exact same time as you, sharing your work-in-progress, and helping each other get unstuck.

There’s also video office hours every other week. If you have a question that would really benefit from some direct involvement, you can jump on a video call during office hours and talk through it.

The projects start small, and each one builds on the one before it. They’re specifically designed to help you get past that hurdle of “I don’t know where to start” and get you building something right away.

If that sounds interesting, a new session starts on April 3, and registration opens up on Monday (April 13).

There are three different workshops to choose from

The Vanilla JS Academy is a series of three different workshops that run concurrently and build on each other.

  1. Vanilla JS Essentials focuses on the fundamentals of DOM manipulation and injection, working with APIs and asynchronous JavaScript, managing data with arrays and objects, and saving state with browser storage.
  2. Structure & Scale is all about how to structure and organize your code as your projects grow and scale. Dig into concepts like utility libraries, object-oriented programing, JavaScript classes, web components, ES modules, and service workers.
  3. Web Apps launched earlier this year to overwhelmingly positive feedback. In it, you learn how to build dynamic web apps with JavaScript. It covers advanced topics like state-based UI, routing, data reactivity, serverless, how to create custom APIs, and token-based authentication.

The program runs three to four times a year, so many students start with Vanilla JS Essentials, and work there way through the whole series over the course of a year.

Frequently asked questions

What time do I have to login every day to do the lessons? When do I have to turn them in by?

This isn’t like school. There’s no mandatory homework, and you don’t have to turn your projects in anywhere. It’s really, really flexible.

Every night at midnight US eastern time, new lessons and projects show up in the online student portal. You can work on them whenever makes sense for you.

If you’re in a very different timezone, you might work on the projects later in the day, or the next day. You might get them down before students located in the Americas have even woken up!

If you have a busy work week, you might work on them at night, or batch them together on the weekend. If you take a vacation or life happens, you might spend a week catching up.

There’s no right way to complete the workshop, but the students who get the most out of it generally participate in the Slack channel and join office hours when they can.

How long do I have access to the lessons and projects for? What happens after the program ends?

You have access to all of the projects and lessons indefinitely.

If you don’t complete the workshop within six weeks, no worries! You can still go through it at your own pace, and you can go back to the lessons and projects again well after the program ends.

The private Slack channel gets closed down about a month after the program ends, but you’ll continue to have access to the rest of the public Vanilla JS Slack channels after that.

When are Office Hours?

For this upcoming session, they’ll be held on Thursdays at 12 noon US Eastern.

This allows me to accommodate as many timezones as possible. I know this is prohibitively late for for folks in certain parts of Asia and the Pacific.

If you can’t attend live, you can post questions ahead of time and I’ll answer them on the call. Office Hours are recorded and posted to the student portal so you can reference and watch them later.

How much does this cost?

The upcoming session of the Vanilla JS Academy is $995.

Next week, I’m running an ⏰🐦 Early Bird Sale. You can get 40 percent off registration with the code EARLYBIRD at checkout.

If you can’t afford to pay that up front, there are payment plans available that let you spread the cost over three months.

And if you live in a country where the exchange rate varies significantly from the US, a location-based price adjustment will also be automatically applied to make the cost more equitable for you (in addition to the sale discount).

This program is one of the best investments you can make in yourself and your career.

What students have said about the program

Tired of tutorials? Want to really dig in and work with other developers on how to become a vanilla JS badass? I can’t tell you how much I’ve learned from Chris Ferdinandi and his Vanilla JS Academy.- Ben Rudolph

Making myself a little web tool and using a whole range of stuff that Chris Ferdinandi’s Vanilla JS Academy taught me.

I struggled with JavaScript for a decade so I really would recommend it for anyone who needs a big friendly confidence-booster.- Laura Kalbag

I was confident that I’d get something valuable from the Academy. The only only hesitation I felt was from knowing how many false starts I had with JS in the past and questioning my own commitment.

With Academy, something finally clicked in regards to both my ability to understand and write JavaScript.

I now feel pretty confident in reading other’s scripts and figuring out what’s going on. That’s in large part due to your clear bite-sized lessons and the active discussions in Slack that quickly surfaced questions and issues that I was also experiencing. Seeing how the same problem was solved by so many others was also helpful in letting go of the pressure to get things right and shift my focus on getting things to work and adjusting later as needed.

I really liked how the lessons were broken up into quickly consumable chunks. I loved having a clean, unopinionated project file to start from that I could wreak design havoc on. :)

The Slack community was priceless.

I’ve taken other online classes that include a slack community and never found them to be quite as welcoming and my involvement felt much more transactional. In this community, I enjoyed seeing everyone’s dedication and investment in each other. It was welcoming, inclusive, helpful, and encouraging. That made a huge difference.- Leticia O'Neill

Best investment and course I have taken. If you want a bite sized course that will hold you accountable take this course. I have reduced the amount I Google and use Stackexchange by 50% and actually feel like I understand what I am coding.- Walter Jenkins

This program is super hands-on. I always wanted to learn how to make my own libraries, or to know how jQuery library works. Async, Promises and Fetch was another huge one for me, that I used in my projects right away.

It gave me a lot of confidence as a developer, I wish I had a training like this when I started. It got me much closer to my goal of becoming a senior front-end dev.

The material covered in the Academy translates right away into my day-to-day tasks at work, which is amazing. I loved that we could share our solutions in a very supportive group, and that you were there in that group all the time. That’s rare with other teachers. Having the official solution the next day was fantastic.

It’s an amazing product for all the reasons listed above. I recommend it to everyone.- Maria Blair

Ready to make an investment in yourself?

This program is one of the best investments you can make in yourself and your career. You’re going to come out a much better developer than when you started.

If you’re interested, head over to to learn more.

And starting on Monday, April 13, you can use the code EARLYBIRD at checkout to take 40 percent off registration at checkout.