Select Page

Getting your first steps in the programming world can be overwhelming at first. But do not worry, in this post I’ll share all the steps on learning how to code as simply as possible so you can hit the ground running!

If you don’t know me, I’m Nicolas owner of the blog and professional software engineer in LA, I have taken my first steps in the coding world all by myself, I know exactly what you are going through. Here, you won’t have to worry about becoming overwhelmed with information, I’ll lay out the blueprint for you.

By the end of this post you will know exactly what you need to get started coding!

Choosing a language

It doesn’t matter what language you use, it matters why you want to learn it.

If you are about to get started with coding, you will need to choose a programming language to get started, although I’m sure you have your own goals and there will be a language that will better suit these specific goals, If you haven’t chosen a language yet, I’m going to recommend the most accessible and most popular programming language of all: JavaScript (NOT Java btw).

Now hold up! If you are a passionate developer and have your language of choice put your pitchfork away. I’ll explain exactly WHY beginners should learn JavaScript first, after learning the basics of it, you will be able to tackle the language that best suits your goals.

WHY JavaScript?

I’ll tell you why, JavaScript is easy and forgiving. Done.

No really, extremely easy to start with compared with other languages. And that is simply because JavaScript is accessible, has a very active community and forgives mistakes.

[PUT YOUR PITCHFORKS AWAY SECOND DISCLAIMER]

[Beginners don’t worry about this paragraph:] Now I could go on and on on what makes this interpreted language (don’t worry about this term right now) way better to start with than other languages (especially the compiled ones, also don’t worry about this term), but I’m not approaching this from a technical view, WE are approaching this from the context of someone who has never coded before.

From experience, I believe the best way to learn how to code is to start coding, then learning why the code works. That is what JavaScript allows us to do with no set-up at all.

All you need to do to start coding with JS, is open your console in your browser (preferably Chrome) and start coding!

Concluding: JavaScript (which is very different from Java), can run in many different platforms (web, mobile, desktop and servers), making it a very versatile language with tons of libraries (code made by other people that you can plug into yours and do amazing things with lower effort), even if you are planning on dabble with data science and machine learning, there are some very accessible libraries to get started to understand the concepts in those areas with a higher barrier of entry.

You may not choose to continue your education with JavaScript, but you should definitely choose to start with it.

Now that we have a language, let’s get you started!

Learning to code the easy way

You will find a lot of different web tools, courses, programs, bootcamps (some now even owned by colleges), and all kinds of content on how to code. So where should you get started?

It doesn’t matter.

Here, I won’t focus on WHERE to go, we’ll focus on WHAT to learn. Then, I’ll give you some of my favorite learning resources.

The fundamentals of programming (in any language) consists of:

  • Data Types (the kinds of data you will be tinkering with)
  • Functions or Methods (the way in which you tinker with that data)
  • Basic operators and conditionals (what happens inside the functions and methods that modifies data)

A very simple example of a program in the English language would look like this:

His name is Nicolas

If he preaches javascript, I’ll kill him.

Translating the above to JavaScript:

//First define the data (the value could be defined by us or it could come from the web)

let Nicolas = {
  isAlive: true,
  isPreachingJavascript: true
};

//Then we process it
if(Nicolas.isPreachingJavascript == true){
  Nicolas.isAlive = false;
};

Both programs above do the same thing, they define the data (in this case me), and establish a conditional stating that if the data has a certain parameter (preaching javascript) we modify another parameter of the data (isAlive or not).

I’ll go more in depth on what coding is and how to get started playing with it yourself in the next session. But for now, just have in mind that all programs are a bunch of sequences of processes (that can run out of order) and can modify data in specific ways.

Your first line of code

Nice, you made it this far through my ramblings, congratulations!

You will now write your first line of code in your browser’s console! I hope you are using Google Chrome, if you are not, try to learn how to access your console, or simple go here: https://jsbin.com/sixuwuw/edit?js,console 

In the console you can write :

console.log('Some text')

and after pressing enter, you should see your code ‘logging’ in the console.

Inside the parenthesis of the console log, you can enter any value you want, the value above is a string that means, it’s pretty much plain text, in the same parenthesis you can start to log different values and operations, try this next:

console.log( 3 + 6 )

You get the idea.

Of course, doing everything through the console log would be very unpractical, but this exercise is mostly to show how accessible javascript is, and why you should begin with it.

In the next section, you will discover some of the resources to learn the fundamentals of coding through javascript. And start getting good with it!

Where to learn coding

Eventually I’ll be putting out more content on how to code with JavaScript, but whilst that doesn’t happen here are some alternatives for you:

Free Code Camp, they have a nice free introduction to coding,where you learn HTML, CSS and JavaScript, (HTML allows you to structure content, including text, images and video, CSS allows you to make it look pretty, and JavaScript allows you to add interactivity and modify the content by changing its data). I’ll create more content on what is a web developer, but at free code camp you would start as a “front-end” web developer (which means you are not coding in a server, but I’ll make a better post defining those terms later).

If you know you are serious about coding and you want a more robust resource with multiple areas of coding beyond web development (machine learning, game development, mobile development, or what have you), I’ll recommend Team Tree House they have a wide variety of courses all of them taught by professionals.

Another great resource for your studies is Udemy.com where you can select only the courses you want, but be careful, there are too many courses that become outdated and retain their ratings and reviews. That is the reason I recommend Team Tree House, they are diligent with their content.

And I’ll tell you to stay away from Lynda.com, their courses are out dated and do not take in consideration the beginner skill level, the ones I saw from Lynda. com start out far too technical, I’m sure any beginner would get confused with their courses.

 

 

Conclusion

It doesn’t matter what your goal in development is, the easiest way to start is with the most accessible and popular language JavaScript, after you understand what makes the foundation of a program (and have written a couple complex programs yourself), then consider moving to the languages that can help you achieve your goals efficiently (I’ll create a post analyzing all the popular languages later on).

The easiest way to learn how to code, is by not over complicating it. KISS (I’m not being romantic here, keep it simple stupid).

Also, JavaScript in NOT Java.