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Thursday, October 28, 2021

Teach Yourself How To Code

The quarantine has most of us bored out of our minds, we have already tried the generic household chores, and attempted to go back to childhood hobbies. But often, the attempts did not bring the desired results. So instead of wasting any more time, why not try teaching yourself how to code? You have the time it demands, now that you are mostly free. If you can find the inspiration and dedication to see it through, coding can become an engaging hobby which also adds to your resume!

Learning how to code is not as difficult as some belief. You can start as early as 6th grade, or make a drastic change in your career by picking up some new programming language. Be it web designing, app development, or algorithms, coding offers something for everyone.

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Coding seems to be a fascinating world that attracts many people. Be it a curious school student or a professional looking to expand their career prospects, coding seems to be the new it thing. One of the best things about coding is that you can easily teach yourself to code at home!

Coding can seem intriguing, but it is no easy task to master this skill. The world of codes is enormous, and you would definitely need some help to navigate. Here are some tips and references to free tools you can use to start your journey and teach yourself to code.

Before everything else, ask yourself why you want to learn how to code. Is it just another passing fancy, or do you have the grit to dedicate time daily to develop this skill? Is it just to get that promotion or do you want to make a difference in the world? Do you want to create the next best software to revolutionize the world? 

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When you can honestly answer these questions, they will lead you down the right path. You can decide which languages you want to learn and how much commitment it would require from you. The commitment can be in terms of both time and money. If you really want to dedicate your career to coding, you will need to start from basic science education where the learning starts with C++. You would then need to move on to more complex topics like algorithms, memory allocation, and data structure and get yourself a proper degree. But you can also get on with an easy start mid-career by taking up short-term coding boot camps. And if the interest is purely as a hobby, you can rely on free resources available on the internet too.

1. How To Code: Programming Language

Once you know the reason why you want to learn how to code, you will better understand where you need to start. Coding can become complex and overwhelming easily. So you can start with the easier languages of CSS and HTML. But remember, both are useful most when you want to develop basic websites.

Building more advanced sites with databases and payment systems, you will need to learn PHP, JavaScript, Python, and SQL. If your interest lies in mobile app building, you can try Kotlin and Java for Androids, and C or Swift for iOS. Are you a gaming nerd who wants to develop their own video game? You will then need to master Unity or C# to turn your imaginary world into a gaming reality.

If all these options seem too confusing, you can just start with JavaScript, Python, or C# since they offer the widest utility. The options are many, and each is daunting in its own right. The important thing is to get started somewhere. Choose one programming language and teach yourself to code. Then it will be much easier to learn other languages.

Learning Spanish comes easy when you are familiar with a similar language, say French. You can relate English with your knowledge in French, which guides your Spanish journey. It’s the same with coding languages as well. Once you get started with one programming, you can develop your skills with time. 

2. Teach Yourself To Code With Online Resources

While you are stuck at home, make the most of your time by taking up an online coding course. It will give you a more flexible learning schedule. You can opt for one where the mentor contacts you for one on one interactions to clear your doubts, or you can just teach yourself to code with the course. The Odin Project is for solo learners who want to tap into free open-source content and learn how to code.

how to code

Credit: David Murphy (Udacity)

If you want one on one interactions, minus the full-time commitment, you can try the certification courses offered by Treehouse or Udacity. Udemy offers an excellent course for just $19! Check out the many options these sources offer and sign up!

But no matter how many certificates you acquire, making practical application can be cumbersome for many beginners. For such people, Watch and Code offers a free Practical JavaScript course where you work on a continually repeating single project.

3. Computational Thinking

Learning to code is not all about learning new programming languages. You can learn to solve problems such that computers can understand them. Hone your skills at concepts like algorithms, pattern recognition, and abstractions. These are basic principles, which, once mastered, will only help you learn to program faster.

You can learn computational thinking by taking up a course at your college, or you can go for free online classes. Harvard’s CS50x Introduction to Computer Science can be an excellent start. You can use edX to audit the free course and earn your certificate after completing all the assignments. Or you can go through all the lectures they have posted on YouTube. Build your very own college-level computer science program with these online courses. 

4. Get Back To Books

If you want a more comprehensive learning curve for coding, it is best to get yourself some books. No need to jump around on websites, going from topic to topic. GitHub offers many e-books on framework and language. You can also try on Duckett’s colorful series which covers A to Z of front and back-end web development.

Steve McConnell’s Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction (2nd Edition) is a guide for best practices. A corollary to McConnell is Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship by Robert Martin. If you are interested in challenging your skills, you can try Jon Bentley’s Programming Pearls (2nd Editing). Each chapter has challenges that technical job interviews often refer to.

5. Bored Of Books? Try Some Coding Games

Unending lines of code lose their charm very soon. So what can you do to keep your love for this alive? Try some interactive tutorials and games. FreeCodeCamp breaks down coding concepts into bite-size chunks, and pairs each concept with an exercise that must be completed before advancing to the next chapter. You really get to the nitty-gritty of what you are learning, while debugging comes easily to you.

Hour of Code is a good coding game to try if you can spare an hour. Minecraft fans probably know about the Educational Edition of the game where school children get to learn the basics of programming with blocks and JavaScript. And for more age-appropriate games, you can go down to CodinGame and teach yourself to code. 

teach yourself to code

Credit: David Murphy (FreeCodeCamp)

The important thing here to remember is that you need to practice your skill every day. Be it games or running some new lines on your own, you have to dedicate some time daily. Daily practice helps you grasp key concepts faster

6. New Tricks For Old Devices

Once you have got a basic grip over your languages, you can teach your smart devices some new tricks. Put your learning to practical use and create customized mini-programs to make your devices and digital assistants more functional. Use Node.js, Java, Python, C#, or Go codes to teach your Amazon Alexa complicated tasks and see your knowledge manifesting in reality. Make the most of your Python knowledge by pushing you Raspberry Pi to new limits. Many coders already share their projects on the website so you can build on those existing codes. 

7. Teach Yourself To Code With Videos

To get a break from monotonous reading, you can supplement your learning with some videos. A lot can be learned from watching the experts at work. You can fond ex-Google employees sharing coding solutions, YouTubers live streaming coding marathons as well as coding vets giving insights on troubleshooting specific problems.

Harvard’s CS50 YouTube channel, CS Dojo, and TheNetNinja, can be good starting points. LinkedIn also offers a video library, which you can access for $30 per month. You get unlimited access to any and every topic related to code.

8. How To Code With Personal Projects

While you continue your learning journey, you need to take up some programming projects to prove your skills. You don’t need to be too ambitious with your project but it should be something you would want to constantly improve and expand upon. don’t limit the project to include only your current skills. Think of the stuff you will be learning in the future and make your project sustainable accordingly. If you are really looking forward to a career in coding, you need to work on some coding projects first.

9. Make Mistakes And Learn From Them

Even the best coding masters have had their fair share of bugs and mistakes. You are in a learning phase so you too will make mistakes. If you cannot figure out where the error is, you can find solutions online. Copy-paste your error message and let Google find someone who has experienced the same trouble. They have probably found a solution too, which would help you. Apart from Google, you can rely on developer’ forums like Stack Overflow, GitHub, and Reddit’s programming subreddit.

10. Hack Other Codes

You can learn from your mistakes as well as from those made by others. Reverse-engineering can be quite helpful when you are teaching yourself to code. Hack someone else’s code and reverse engineer each line. See how each segment works to better understand the whole project. The Internet has tons of open-source code where you can easily access others’ flawless codes. If you can find some new ways of improving on those codes, feel free to share that. And as a part of the community, don’t forget to share your own codes so that others can also learn from you.

11. Find A Mentor

Solo learning is not too much fun. You can jump into any programming community and find a coder you resonate with. The vets are more than willing to help out newbies so don’t be shy. GitHub is meant to be an online spot for collaborators to connect. This place is filled with developers using Git for their coding projects. Developers love to host and share projects with peers and they provide feedback too. Participate in hackathons and you might just find your coding buddy. Create a bond with a fellow coder and take your knowledge to new heights. Once you have gained enough experience, you can become a mentor for beginners too. teaching others is a great way to not only brush up your existing skills, but you might get to learn something new from them as well.

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Credit: David Murphy (Coding Coach)

12. Coding Boot camps

While not everyone prefers boot camps, you can land a great job if that is the direction you wanted to go in. Boot camps usually offer a crisp introduction to the world of codes and expose you to many new skills. Boot camps are where many coders usually find their dream jobs at top MNCs. 

Full-time developers make the most from the intensive and in-person experience of coding boot camps. If you can spare the money and time, boot camps can be a great source of learning. The rates usually start at around $15,000 for the tuition, and living expenses come extra.

The Grace Hopper Program and the Flatiron School offer deferred tuition and scholarships to make boot camps more affordable for all. Course Report has a comprehensive breakdown of multiple in-person as well as online boot camps.

13. The Magic Of Data Science And Visualization

Data science and visualization are important aspects of coding, but they are not often explored by everyone. If you want to learn data science with Python, you can read up the “Towards Data Science” publication on Medium. It offers in-depth knowledge for data science enthusiasts who are just starting their journey. It offers line-by-line descriptions of how Python codes can be turned into graphs and charts, even by beginners.

Python is a beloved programming language. It has many one-liner tricks and its simplicity attracts everyone. Beginners can feel very comfortable while learning how to code. If you want to run Python in data science, you can execute some lines in the Jupyter Notebook. It is a great tool to run all your visual data analytics.

14. Algorithms To Get You Started

Algorithms is something that fits both beginners and pros. You could have gone through your entire computer science degree without delving into the world of algorithms, or you could start to teach yourself to code with algorithms first. 

HackerRank is a good place to engage in thousands of algorithm problems for free. Code Academy and LeetCode also offer similar opportunities. If you want to master the concept of computational thinking, you have to work with algorithms. They can turn real fun if you are dedicated. 

15. Kids’ Toys For Adults To Learn Coding

Kids start their coding journeys with STEM/STEAM toys and games, and adults can learn from those as well. They teach you syntax and coding logic, minus all the boredom! 

Piper Computer Kit 2 lets you build a computer powered by Raspberry Pi, which helps you better understand the relation between software and hardware. This DIY laptop is great to teach yourself to code with the Minecraft Story Mode Challenges. The drag-and-drop Blockly language teaches how to code and physical computing.

Sphero’s BOLT also teaches a good deal on how to code and build droid balls. You can use Scratch coding blocks and then use JavaScript to level up your skills and the project.

16. Celebrate Small Triumphs

When you teach yourself to code, you need to make the most of your triumphs as well. It is no small task to make each tiny element work out in a code while also making it functional with the rest of the project. If you don’t miss out on things like closing your HTML tag, you need to celebrate that too. These small steps will lead you to create more complex and advanced codes.

The journey with coding is not easy. You will have plenty of obstacles, and many bugs to debug. But you must remember to be patient. An expert coder is not the product of a couple of boot camps or a few months’ worth of dedication. It takes years, and you are just starting. As a beginner, if you can create an error-free form-based website or just create a simple predictions game, that is still a great achievement. You can often feel stuck, especially after a particularly nagging bug. But don’t lose hope. Search for solutions wherever you can, be it Reddit or Google. Look further and you can even find other forums that are more helpful for you. If the errors persist, take a break. Remove yourself completely from the project. Take some time off and then return to it. A fresh perspective of a mentor also helps.

Ultimately, it all comes down to how you can tackle errors. Learning is the easy part. The application of your knowledge tests your mettle. You can learn how to code from in-person boot camps or attend school, or you can teach yourself to code at home. The lockdowns have given plenty of time to try new things. Who knows, coding could be the thing you were trying to find all your life. Learning how to code can lead you down the path you were meant to be on. Are you ready to get lost in the world of endless lines of code?

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