How To Start Coding: A Guide

How To Start Coding: A Guide

Don’t think you can learn how to start coding? Perhaps you think it requires a computer science degree or that your lack of math skills might hold you back. Fortunately, nothing is holding you back from learning how to code.

Whether you want to find a new job or simply are looking to pick up a new hobby, anybody can learn how to start coding, 

Programming is about solving problems. Yes, it can take some time to get to grips with specific languages, but there are plenty of resources for every kind of learning style, regardless of your age or computer skills. Plenty of companies hire engineers without a degree.

Here are the essentials on how to start learning coding on your own.

How to Learn Coding

  1. Come Up With a Simple Project

You can’t learn carpentry without making a few cupboards. Likewise, when you’re learning to code, the best practice is making programs. Without that clear project, it’s easy to lose focus and motivation. So come up with an idea, and work toward that goal.

Try to keep the project simple. For example, make your life easier with a budget calculator or try building an old classic like Hangman.

We can’t stress how important this is. So before you dive into choosing a language or reading a book, come up with an idea. 

Got one? 

Great. Let’s continue

2.Get the Software You’ll Need

You don’t need much to start writing code. Simply making sure your computer knows how to run coding program is the most important part.. So, if you’re completely new to programming, here are a few things you need to know.

It can be as simple as a text editor

When writing code, all you need to do is save the file as the correct type. For example, if you’re using Python, you’d save your text file as a .py instead of a .txt. You can make your life easier by downloading Notepad++, which helps you spot where you’ve made a mistake in your code.

Your computer needs to know how to read the code

When you run a file, your computer needs to know what to do with all that code. So make sure you search around for what you need to install before trying to run the file.

You can get software that’ll bring everything you need together

Once you know what language you want to learn and start making more complex programs, you’ll want to download an Integrated Development Environment (IDE).

An IDE brings together a way to edit your code, see it run in real-time and create the final file you need. They’re not essential, but they make life so much easier.

3.Join Communities Focused on How to Start Coding

Now you know the basics, it’s time to get into the details. There are plenty of places online to ask questions, get help with sticky problems and learn best practices. Joining a community can really help encourage you to continue coding and give you a bit of direction when you feel lost. Naturally, computer programmers have carved out plenty of spaces on the internet that provide help to coders of all experience levels. 

Here are four good ways to get involved:

  1. Reddit’s /r/learnprogramming: An essential resource that brings together everything you might need to learn your language.
  2. Stack Overflow: Whenever you have a problem, it’s extremely likely someone else has already solved it. Stack Overflow is one of the best forums for finding those solutions.
  3. Meetup: Don’t underestimate how helpful it can be to know people in real life who code.
  4. Hackathons: These events bring people together to quickly create programs, usually over a weekend. You can find plenty online, just google it.

4.Read a Few Books

There are loads of books out there on how to start coding. Reading a book can really help you get to grips with the programming theory. The main downside is that if you get stuck, it’s hard to ask a book for help. They’re great for the broad ideas and concepts, or learning while you’re away from the computer. But without constant practice, you might become disheartened.

Check our out guide on the best coding books for beginners or you can find a list of free books on GitHub.

Beware books that claim to teach you in 24 hours

Coding takes time. You won’t learn a language in a day. Instead, look for books with a more realistic time-frame. One particularly good series is the Sams Teach Yourself books by Bradley L Jones.

5.Run Through a Tutorial

There are quite a few apps and websites to guide you through how to program. These are really useful if you’re still wondering which language to choose. You’ll learn the difference between a variable and a function, and start putting together really simple programs.

Do be wary, they can tend to fall a little short once you start wanting to create your own program, or anything particularly unique. You won’t have anybody to talk to, and they can feel quite limited in scope.

We’d recommend starting off with Nextstacks. It’s afordable, and you can learn the basics of a variety of languages to see which one suits you best.

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