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Programmers forgetting syntax
Do programmers need a good memory?

I'm a new web developer. I began learning HTML/CSS around June of this year. I picked them up easily, now I'm moving on to Javascript. My problem is this. I understand the concepts that the training material are teaching but I find myself coming up short when it's time to apply those lessons. Mainly it's due in part to the syntax. I memorize a function, apply it, test it, move on then forget it a few days later (the syntax, not the concept). My question is this. Should I be spinning my wheels trying to remember everything, or is knowing the concept enough.

I know this has been addressed before but I couldn't find any real definitive real world answers. Feel free to discuss what methods worked for you when you started out.

marked as duplicate by FrustratedWithFormsDesigner, Walter, Caleb, gnat, ChrisF Nov 8 '12 at 23:00

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.


Correct syntax is only a Google away, proper application of concepts is the important part that can take a lifetime to master. It is far more important to know what you want and need than how to type it with correct syntax.

Remembering syntax will come with time and repetition, the more stuff you do the more you will understand which things are commonly used and worth remembering.


I want to dissent with some of the other posters. The concepts are most important, but I question your grasp of the concept if you can't even remember the syntax.

Beyond that, you'll run into issues as a programmer if every few days you're looking up syntax details rather than getting things done. Retaining syntax is a matter of practice and usage. So is program design skill, debugging skill, and tons of other things programmers need.

So while you don't need to worry so much about the syntax, you should maybe worry that if you're not retaining the syntax you've learned then maybe you're not spending enough time actually writing code to properly learn the other things that do matter. You should maybe worry that looking up syntax isn't the best use of your time.


As long as you know the concept you'll be fine. Programming is all about these concepts, and syntax is just a way of expressing them. Learning a new language, we all face a hard time remembering syntax, but that's what reference material is for. And now that we have the Internet (you younglings have no idea how good you have it!), moderate Google skills can get you the syntax of pretty much anything you might ever need. With time, and expereince, you'll find yourself retaining more and more of that syntax in your head so coding will get faster and faster. But you'll never get everything in your head, so don't worry about it.

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