Do Web Developers Need to Know Data Structures

Do Web Developers need to know Data Structures and Algorithmns?

You will never truly understand what you are missing until you actually work with Data structures and Algorithms. Data structures and algorithms will change how you approach web development. To be a competitive web developer, you need to understand and use Data Structures and Algorithms.

If you don’t have any idea what data structures and algorithms are, you will not know whether you need them or not. By now, you have probably heard a lot about Data structures and Algorithms from friends, workmates and other programmers, maybe you have even tried to watch a video or a read book. But it all seems like some rocket science and you are wondering if you even need them.

If you are a web developer who wants to make a difference in your career and stand out from the rest of the competition, you need to know and use Data structures and Algorithms.

There are thousands of different algorithms to learn out there, you need to understand which ones to learn and which ones are relevant for your line of work. Learning algorithms can be a daunting and challenging task but you will not regret it.

Even if you have tried and you didn’t get the hang of it before, try again, the more you try, the more it will all be falling in place, and in no time, you will be able to work with algorithms and data structures.

Even though many developers avoid learning Algorithms and data structures, they are used in daily life when searching and sorting things. Algorithms are sometimes used unknowingly and there are other programmers who have unknowingly developed algorithms.

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BENEFITS OF DATA STRUCTURES AND ALGORITHMS

Data structures are ways or methods of organizing or storing data in computer memory to allow for effective usage. The most common data structures are Arrays, Linked Lists, Trees, Graphs, Stacks, and Queues.

Algorithms are a set of rules followed to solve a problem. Examples include sorting algorithms, searching algorithms, graph traversing algorithms, etc.

There are a lot of benefits to understanding and working with Data structures and algorithms, here are some of them;

  • EFFICIENT SOLUTIONS

When solving a software problem, there are a lot of ways you can go about it, however, not all the ways are efficient and scalable. Data structures and algorithms help developers to implement efficient solutions that minimize performances issues.

If you are a web developer working with a huge set of data, you will need to implement an algorithm that works without issues even if the data grows extremely large.

Imagine you wanted to search for an element in a sorted array, you may iterate over the array and compare each element to your target element and if you find your target element, you will return it. This will work without problems for thousands upon thousands of records.

But when your records get to millions upon millions, you are going to get performance issues, your code will slow down and if you have no idea about algorithms, you will have hard times solving this problem. However, if you use Binary Search algorithm, you can get your target element quickly even if you have billions or trillions of records. This is an efficient and optimal solution.

  • JOB INTERVIEWS

If you plan on working for any big tech company, you need to know data structures and algorithms. Any big tech company such as Google, Apple, Meta, Amazon, Microsoft, Oracle, Netflix, etc. will ask questions on data structures and algorithms in interviews.

If you understand Algorithms and Data structures, you are halfway to passing your interview with many tech companies. It is no surprise that a book like CRACKING THE CODING INTERVIEW has content on Algorithms, ranging from basic to trickiest algorithms.

  • MAKES YOU A BETTER DEVELOPER

Part of becoming a better web developer is challenging yourself to do more than what you are already comfortable with, and what better way to challenge yourself than with data structures and algorithms.

Working with algorithms will help you to become a better developer, you will be able to implement efficient and optimal solutions. It’s like unlocking a whole new world of great software performance and possibilities.

You can learn more in our article TIPS TO BECOME A BETTER DEVELOPER

  • IMPROVE PROBLEM-SOLVING SKILLS

Learning data structures and algorithms will enhance how you solve everyday challenges, not only when working with software, but in your everyday life ultimately.

In the book ALGORITHMS TO LIVE BY: THE COMPUTER SCIENCE OF HUMAN DECISIONS, the author talks about how computer algorithms can be applied to our everyday lives from finding a spouse to finding a parking spot, organizing your inbox, and more.

Algorithms are a form of mental exercise that strengthens your mental muscle, once you start using algorithms, you will always be pushing yourself to find better ways of doing things, you will be constantly seeking to implement the most optimal and efficient solutions to problems. You will not be satisfied by using a solution that just works but one that works efficiently.

DO I NEED TO KNOW JAVA FOR ALGORITHMS?

No, you don’t need to know Java for Algorithms and Data structures, you can use nearly any programming language you are comfortable with. As a web developer, you can use Javascript or Python for Algorithms.

Learning Data structures and algorithms with Javascript or Python is much easier than using Java. Many programmers lightly regard learning Algorithms with Java as one of the stressful tasks, with memes all over the internet to assert this.

Meme from 9GAG

It was in reference to this book.

Ultimately, you don’t have to learn Java for algorithms, you are better off using Python.


BEST RESOURCES FOR ALGORITHMS AND DATA STRUCTURES

There are a lot of resources online to help you learn data structures and algorithms. Here are some of them;

If you are a fan of reading books, the following 2 books are a must-read, they will give you an in-depth understanding of the world of algorithms and how to use them in your everyday activities.

Grokking Algorithms written by Aditya Bhargava is a fully illustrated guide that teaches you how to apply algorithms. Its content is easy to follow and fun. It has great examples of code snippets written in python which are easy to follow.

I love how this book gets common algorithms and apply them to real life. It’s a great way to understand algorithms and use them in everyday life activities. You will see Algorithms in action in this book.

Leetcode is an amazing platform to help you improve your skills, prepare for technical job interviews and grow your knowledge. There are a lot of practice problems to help you understand Data structures, Algorithms, and more.

  • COURSES

You can take a course that focuses solely on Data structures and Algorithms. These may be online courses, physical classes at university, or a youtube tutorial. I learned a lot from the course offered by Treehouse and freely available on Freecodecamp Youtube Channel.

You can find more amazing courses on platforms such as Udemy, Udacity, Coursera, Brilliant, SkillShare, etc.

  • YOUTUBE

Youtube has a lot of wonderful videos on data structures and algorithms. This Video by Brad Traversy of Traversy media is a great introduction to Linked-Lists (Data Structure) using Javascript.

Another great short video that I found useful for setting the ground is Beginner Data Structures Explained Like You Are 5 by Bukola.

Mosh also did a great job in his video Data Structures and Algorithms for Beginners. Examples are in Java but you can still follow along and learn a lot.

CONCLUSION

Web developers need to know and understand Data structures and algorithms to make more efficient and optimized web applications. Algorithms can also help web developers to sharpen their problem-solving skills.

Understanding Data structures and Algorithms will open up a whole new world of opportunities to work for big tech companies and a new way of working and solving software problems.

Happy Coding.