Developer Vernacular

As a freelancer, I often work on my own from start to finish on any given project. It’s common that the only people I explain my work to are my clients, or designers, marketing specialists, and managers. In these cases, I use common vernacular or business and marketing terms to describe the intent, purpose, and functionality of the product. There have been times I have become so accustomed to this approach in communication that I find myself tongue-tied when talking with developers. There are a myriad of terms, expressions, and vocabulary used exclusively within the realm of developers, and when one doesn’t find themselves needing to use it often, those phrases can get lost. Therefore, I’m creating a series of posts to help describe terms and phrases that were not originally apparent in meaning to me, and could be useful for others reading here. These days, I mainly work with React and JavaScript, and these terms will work within that framework and language, but you will find most extend across languages.

“Lifting the State Up” or “Lifting State Up”

React has a component-based architecture approach, where components can be children, parents, or even siblings (children of the same parent component). Data – or state – can be passed from parent to child, but what about from child to parent, or sibling to sibling? In that case, we need to lift the state up. Lifting the state up can be passed via props. If passing from sibling to sibling, it should only be lifted up to the nearest parent component and then down to the child needing the data.

Array Destructuring

One of the features of JavaScript ES6 is array destructuring and it’s become ubiquitous in React since the advent of hooks in v16.8. Let’s take the useState hook as an example. The syntax for this hook looks like the following:

const [count, setCount] = useState(0);

What’s actually happening here? useState returns the current state and a function that updates it. So in order to initialize both values in one line, we use array destructuring. There are other methods to assign values within an array, but they usually require more lines of code, and therefore we can consider array destructuring as “syntactic sugar”.

Syntactic Sugar

Rounding out this little list of developer jargon brings us full circle, back to comprehensible communication, and code is no exception! These days, there are languages and applications that make coding quite close to our common tongue. New languages and updates to existing frameworks often strive to develop syntax that is easy to comprehend, write, and read. Syntactic sugar is the phrase used for this sentiment.


The world of code is vast, there’s always something new to learn, the concepts can be tough to grasp and convey. If you find yourself frustrated by all of the terms, have patience. Just as coding can become second nature, with enough exposure, these terms start to feel more and more common. If you freelance or work as the only developer in your department and have few people to discuss your code with, I have found online video courses to be particularly helpful. While there are lots of resources to read from, I find having the audio element of a teacher who explains the terms out loud really helps me remember and lock in terms used when communicating developer-to-developer. Keep a beginner’s mind and stay curious!

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