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Into the Deep End: Learning to Code

Posted on 8.03.2014

By Derek Schou

There is no shortcut that aspiring developers can take to obtain all of the knowledge they’ll need to properly code websites or apps - at least not quickly. It takes good ole’ fashioned hard work.

In order for future developers to keep their heads above digital water, it’s important they are honest with themselves about their current skillsets. Skipping ahead to a harder lesson, for example, will likely cause them more frustration (not to mention time and money) in the future. With so many learning options that cater to different experience levels, choosing one to fit their current needs is the easy part.

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Put on those floaties

Code Avengers is a free online platform that helps developers learn three of the most common languages on the Web today: HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

For those just beginning their coding journey, HTML and CSS are almost always used together. HTML is used to create the content and structure of a Web page while CSS is used to style the website’s visual elements. Using just these two languages, developers can create a fully functioning, albeit somewhat limited, website. Code Avengers breaks up their lessons by using HTML and CSS to create Web pages, for example, and JavaScript to create apps as well as games.

Another option for beginning developers is Codecademy. This free platform starts with the very basics, like Code Avengers, and eventually builds toward intermediate level skills. Codecademy offers a wide variety of computer languages (HTML & CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, Python, Ruby PHP and APIs) as well as a clear breakdown of the lessons inside of each course.

On the importance of knowing how to code, Zach Sims, CEO and cofounder of Codecademy said, “Coding literacy will be considered a universal, basic skill in the very near future - similar to how reading, writing or mathematics are now considered basic skills in today’s modern world.”

You’re treading water now

Codecademy and Code Avengers are useful places for developers to start learning to code, but they can only take developers so far. In order to keep increasing their skills it is important to start learning more challenging techniques.

CodinGame offers a fun and exciting environment for developers to test their skills by playing games. At one point or another most people are going to hit a wall. Plateaus are inevitable but it’s important that developers continue to push through them. Through its use of games, CodinGame keeps learning to code fun, as it provides an engaging experience for developers to test their skills as well as learn a few new ones.

The free platform divides its lessons into four tiers of difficulty with each lesson being some type of game. Themes for the games range from landing the Curiosity Rover on Mars to helping Thor win the battle of Ragnarok.

Swimming with the best of them

For an even greater challenge developers can test their wits using Pluralsight. Formerly known as PeepCode, Pluralsight offers an impressive array of advanced computer language courses that includes jQuery, PHP as well as HTML5 and Java. Each course contains a specific set of lessons that are taught using online videos. Some lessons also contain exercise files, which provide a place for developers to practice writing the code from the video they just watched.

Developers do have to pay a fee ($29-$49 per month or $299-$499 per year) to use Pluralsight to its full potential. However, there is a free trial available so developers can try the platform before they pay for it.

Also, for businesses that want their employees to learn a new language or skill, Pluralsight offers the option to purchase multiple licenses at the same time.

The digital ocean

The path from novice to expert is not an easy or quick one.

However, with each platform allowing developers to go at their own speed as well as get help when they need it, there is no longer any reason why anyone with Internet access cannot learn how to code for personal and business success.

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