Ask DN: How to code, where do I start?

almost 7 years ago from Davide Pisauri, UX designer

  • Bryce HowitsonBryce Howitson, almost 7 years ago (edited almost 7 years ago )

    The first and MOST IMPORTANT thing is to find something you want to build.

    This can be an app you imagined, a website for your favorite nonprofit or your portfolio. It doesn't matter what this is as long as it's small and something you care about doing. The best way to learn is through direct application and if it's something you care about, you won't struggle to put in the time.

    Step two: pick a focus Having a project in mind lets you focus your learning. The concept of "code" is massive. Native apps are not built the same way a website is. Databases are nothing like CSS. There will be specific concepts and tools that will be required to build your idea and this gives you a starting point. Plus having a background in one vein of code will help you move to others as you need them.

    Build a foundation Depending on your goals you can get a quick foundation from some of the sites Rebecca Listed. (I personally like Codeacademy) If you're looking to build a website, learn the basics of HTML & CSS first. If you want to build an iOS app learn how to setup a project in Swift. And so on. However, I'd recommend only going a few lessons in. Just figure out enough to get started because you want to apply what you're learning to YOUR project not just to quizzes.

    Keep learning Once you have a basic foundation, keep getting help from tutorials and the web but now start asking very specific questions. If your project needs a carousel ask Google for carousel tutorials. Search StackOverflow for terms and problems that get in your way. Figure out how to modify the given examples to fit your needs. (which may involve other more specific tutorials)

    Get Help Find a mentor. This can be a teacher, tutorial author, friend, etc but it's important to have a person who can easily point you in the right direction. Consider asking an engineer on your team for pointers. Everyone likes to feel like an expert and they'll be happy that you're trying to make their job easier by understanding it.

    If you're having a hard time finding a person to talk to, I or one of my Codementor colleagues would be happy to help you.

    Get to done Finish building your project but know that it will probably evolve and change. That's fine but when you look back you'll see how much more you know now than when you started. Now to keep learning you just need to do it all again with a new project...

    Sure that all seems like a lot and it can be difficult, But you can do it! Plus you'll feel a massive sense of accomplishment when you get the first one built.

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