First of all, what is coding? You might look at the Wikipedia definition for ‘computer programming’ here, but if you’re not overly fond of sifting through long, dry definitions your eyes will quickly glaze over at the large chunks of text and weird, hyperlinked words.
Essentially what coding is, in very, very general terms, and what you have probably assumed about it already in some kind of way, is commands and symbols and characters written in a funny syntactical manner that, when written correctly, do something on a computer or system that you hopefully predicted and wanted. When a lot of these commands and symbols and characters are lumped together to accomplish something, they are summarily called a ‘program.’ If you are using a compiled language as opposed to an interpreted language, the thing that runs the program and turns it from a bunch of weird characters into whatever it is that you wanted is the ‘compiler.’ Python does not require a compiler because it is an interpreted language.
The classic example is the “Hello, World!” one. If you want a program, written in Python, to print out “Hello, World!” onto the screen, then this is what you would have in your simple, simple Python program:
print ‘Hello, World!’
That’s it. That is all you would have in your program. No extra semicolon, no period, nothing else.
What you need in order to learn to code
To learn how to code quickly, first what you need is the resources to help you learn first and foremost, let alone learn quickly. Depending on your circumstances and preferences, this can take the form of anything from the wealth of online coding resources to coding boot camps to books to a really knowledgeable, patient friend.
- Online resources: Codecademy, Bento.io, Free Code Camp
- Boot camps: Code Platoon (for veterans and military spouses) and Dev Bootcamp
What you need to learn to code quickly and effectively
The ‘quickly’ and ‘effectively’ part both must come from your own willpower, discipline, and perseverance.
To learn as quickly as possible you need to supplement your hard work by coding and learning and practicing as much as possible. You could make a schedule for yourself, like this lifehacker, who had a plan that spanned 8 weekends. If you find it incredibly difficult to force yourself to code frequently and/or to challenge yourself to learn new things, consider attending a code camp, where the structure, assignments, projects, and instructors will all be provided (most likely at the cost of at least a couple thousand dollars).
To learn as effectively as possible you need to supplement your hard work and frequent practice with constant experimentation. This will help you better understand many concepts as you are learning by doing. Writing code out by hand is also a great method for learning because it challenges you to think differently and more clearly about your code – you can’t just run it carelessly and wait for error messages when it’s on paper. Asking others for help when you need it is another thing you should keep in mind. They can offer a different insight or more experience that you can merge with your own. Stack Overflow is an amazing online forum that lets you post questions and see others’ questions (and hopefully answers).
To test how effectively you are learning, you can use whatever tutorials you like, go through them as many times as you like, then delete all of your work and do them all over again, except this time you should try to rely on the tutorial as little as possible.
Inevitably you will become frustrated with coding because frankly, coding makes everyone feel stupid sometimes. The languages are always changing and the syntax is so finicky and … you’ll understand soon enough. Anyhow, if you do feel frustrated what you should do is take a break. Or breaks. Hopefully these will allow you to think more clearly and alleviate your frustration. You should also try multiple approaches. This comes in handy especially when debugging; test every possible part of your code that could be wrong, even if you think in your very soul that you wrote it right.
Finally, a solid understanding of the fundamentals of coding is hugely important. It is the base that you build all of your more advanced knowledge upon, and it can also help with learning other programming languages that you choose to tackle later.
About Code Platoon:
Code Platoon is an immersive, beginner-friendly coding boot camp located in the heart of Chicago. Code Platoon offers to cover 80% of tuition costs if you are a veteran or a military spouse, so the total out-of-pocket cost is $2,500. Code Platoon provides instant leads internships, interview preparation, job counseling, employer matching. Join us today by signing up here.