The biggest players in the tech industry are worth over $3 trillion dollars.
And behind those major companies? Code.
Learning to code isn’t just a rewarding experience. It’s also a great way to strap your career to a rocket.
But learning how to start coding can be a daunting step all on its own.
Here’s how to get started in coding: why you should do it, what languages are important, and what resources you’ll need.
Why You Should Learn to Code
Computers are a feature of every-day life. Whether you’re checking Facebook or delving into data science, code is behind it all. This means coding as a skill is in high demand across multiple industries.
Coding also gives you more flexibility than many other vocations. A lot of coders work as digital nomads, traveling the world as they work. Others are able to work contract or freelance from home.
When all you need is a computer and the internet, the professional world is your oyster.
As a skill, coding is also challenging and rewarding. Building a program or website from scratch is an incredibly satisfying experience. Whether you’re building a viral campaign or the next big mobile app, coding will teach you the value of your own hard work.
Choose a Language
The great thing about code is that if you know one language, it’s often not difficult to apply that knowledge to something new. Here are a few common starter languages that’ll give you a good jumping off point.
HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language. It serves as the building blocks of the internet.
Every website is structured using HTML markup. This makes learning the language incredibly beneficial whether you’re planning to specialize in web development or otherwise.
CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheet. It’s the language that makes websites look the way they do. While HTML gives a website it’s structure, CSS then applies styling to that structure – adding graphic design to the HTML skeleton.
Even if you plan to use a CSS preprocessor like SASS or LESS, it’s a good idea to first learn basic CSS. It’ll give you a better understanding of how the compiled code will work.
PHP is also a great way to introduce yourself to the object-orientated programming (OOP) paradigm. OOP, as a concept, carries across multiple programming languages.
Python is a general-purpose, high-level coding language. It can be used for web programming, but it also extends to desktop GUI application programming. It’s one of the most popular programming languages for its versatility alone.
C++ is another general-purpose, high-level programming language. It’s used predominantly to develop firmware or portable applications. If you want to develop mobile applications for iOS, Windows, or Android, then C++ is a great language to learn.
No matter what language you intend to learn, it’s best to start small. Learn the basics first and build on your knowledge from there. Diving right into a major development project before you know the basics will only serve to demoralize you.
Learning syntax is a great place to start coding. It’ll teach you the rules of the language and the best practices for developing with it.
If you’re learning HTML you’ll want to learn when and how to use tags. It’s not enough to know how to wrap content in an article tag. You also have to know when using that tag is semantically correct.
Similarly, in languages like PHP and Python, it’s one thing to know how to construct objects and classes and another to know when and how to use them. Starting small will help you learn not just how to code but how best to code, ensuring your projects are well-built and maintainable.
There’s no shortage of coding resources available online. Many developers are big proponents of the concept of open source – source code that is freely available, to be redistributed and modified at will. This concept extends to the learning of code as well.
There are numerous ways to learn code for free, either through structured tutorials or in an online community atmosphere. Here are some of the most popular.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international community with an aim to develop consistent web standards. It’s made up of internal staff, member organizations, and developers with an interest in standardization.
It’s a proponent of two major visions: Web for All and Web on Everything. Essentially, pushing for consistent web technology practices so that the internet is accessible by anyone regardless of ability, location, or means.
One of the ways the W3C practices what it preaches is by offering free education on a slew of coding languages. Through W3Schools, you can learn any coding language that is used in web development, from HTML right through to Python.
Stack Overflow is a development website where coders learn, share, and build industry connections. Its content is set up in a question/answer format, making it an invaluable tool for troubleshooting your code no matter your skill level.
If you have a coding question, odds are it’s been answered on Stack Overflow.
If you learn best through structured courses, then Codecademy is an excellent resource. You can learn to code through a number of paths, including web development, data science, and computer science.
Now You Know How to Start Coding
Technology is ever-evolving and we must evolve with it. Learning how to start coding is the first step of doing just that. By starting small, choosing the right language, and utilizing the best resources, you’ll be well on your way to being an expert coder in no time.
Ready to dive into learning a language? Here’s a primer on how to write C programs.