Leo Godin
3 min readAug 22, 2020


So, you want to learn a new framework. Maybe you’re just getting into web development or you’ve got some experience behind you and need a quick intro to some hot technology. I don’t know which tutorial you will use, but there’s one thing I can almost guarantee. It will show you how to create a ToDo app. For instance, look at this excellent video I used to get started with VUE.


How does the instructor teach VUE? First, with a wicked awesome Boston accent. Second, he demonstrates how to build a ToDo app.

The ToDo App is Great for Instructors

Why does the ubiquitous ToDo app make its way into virtually every tutorial? It’s a great way to demonstrate technology in a manner everyone understands. Each learner has the context needed to understand functionality. Furthermore, building the same thing in various frameworks makes it easier to compare technologies.

In other words, building a ToDo app in YOUR tutorial is a great idea. Do it. Go for it. I recommend it. Just don’t ask learners to build the same thing you are creating. Instead, encourage them to build something unique. Something that will demonstrate understanding. After all, that’s the point isn’t it? We want to teach others. We want to help them learn new technologies.

For the Learners

Don’t build the ToDo app! Don’t do it. Follow along. Understand the important concepts and build something different that is as complex. Anything. Build an app to track sports scores. Something to keep notes. A schedule. A fake store. It doesn’t matter, as long as it is not the same ToDo app the instructor builds.

When the instructor creates a task, you create an event or a note or whatever. When they mark something complete, you change some type of status. In other words, follow along, using the same techniques, but for your own idea and design. This will force you to think about what you are creating. No copying or wrote memorization.

Why would I say this?

When we follow tutorials, we are mostly copying code exactly as it is written by the instructor. Copying requires zero critical thinking. We are not understanding technology. At best, we are memorizing syntax instead of understanding how the code works. Building our own app requires us to understand how the various pieces fit together. It may take a little longer, but we will be far ahead of those who built the ToDo app. We’ll be ready to start working on more complex functionality. Of course, that begs the question, How do we learn more complex functionality?

Maybe from other tutorials. Maybe from the docs. Who knows? You will when you try it. Build something. If you don’t know how to accomplish some particular task, then look it up. We live in a golden age of information. I guarantee someone has produced a video or blog post on whatever you need.

What If I Want to Build a ToDo App?

I hear you. You’re all, “But, you said ToDo apps are great? I want to build one. You’re not my cat, don’t tell me what to do!” Look, I get it. We love our ToDo apps. Building one is a great idea, just not during the tutorial. Once you have a basic grasp of the technology, go ahead and build it. Build it using your strategy and your knowledge. Just don’t copy code from a tutorial. Start from scratch. Write some tests. Treat it like a production app — after you’ve completed the tutorial. Now you will have the context needed to evaluate the technology. You’ll be able to compare it to similar frameworks.

Wrapping UP

In the end, we want the most effective path to learning. Copying code is the least effective method we can use. Instead, we should look at code and strategies used by those with more experience than us. Figure out how all the pieces fit together and create something with it. Just don’t build that ToDo app.



Leo Godin

I’m Leo and I love data! Recovering mansplainer, currently working as a lead data engineer at New Relic. BS in computer science and a MS in data