5 Tips to Help Learn Code

Published Oct 11, 2017
5 Tips to Help Learn Code

In these rapidly changing and often challenging times, there is one thing that seems to go on with relentless energy and optimism; building bridges, making connections, tying everything together - the internet.

It seems a safe enough prediction that whatever happens politically, economically, even meteorologically in the coming years, the world wide web will remain steadfast in the storm. Its uses and functions will change and develop but the basic building blocks will remain the same. More and more of our everyday activities will involve the internet, and more and more of our lives and relationships will be recorded and conducted through it. No matter what quiet corner of the world you find to hide in, the internet will be there. It is perhaps the most powerful modern phenomenon we have as we ride into the uncertain future. Given all that, you might as well get involved.

Sometimes, from a distance the internet seems like an enormous bundle of knotted string; completely impregnable, dizzying even. It certainly doesn’t look like a neat and orderly network that you can pick up and learn. However, there are basic rules which underpin everything that happens on the web and the rules are available for anyone to master. If you decide to really get to grips with the rules then you can learn to control them; if you can control them then you can make the web work for you; you can effect change; you can command huge sums of money for your services. You can code.

Tip 1: Learning code is like learning a language. There are several languages to choose from, depending on whether you want to design websites, phone apps or data-management systems. You’d be mad to try to learn Spanish, French and German all the same time so the first thing to establish with learning code is which language you want to learn.

Tip 2: get to grips with the basic concepts of coding before going any further. There are legions of teachers out there to help hold your hand through this first daunting step. You can do courses online, through books, in classrooms or 1-to-1 tutorials. Whichever way you end up going, no teacher is going to prevent you starting off feeling confounded by the syntax.

Like trying to learn any new language, coding has a grammatical structure that uses different characters and symbols to generate meaning. You won’t master it overnight but it is worth putting in the long hours here because if you can completely master the fundamentals, you will have much more capacity to be inventive further down the line.

Tip 3: Becoming familiar with your chosen syntax is your foot in the door but to prize open the door you need to really build your toolkit. The best set of ‘tools’, as they are known in the trade, are basically short-cuts. There are 1000s of them out there - little pieces of software that will save you time by performing a straightforward function for you without forcing you back to the drawing board. Don’t worry, ‘tools’ aren’t lazy cop-outs. They aren’t secret or expensive. They’re there to be used and they’re every bit as important as the more complex ideas of ‘variables’, ‘control structures’ and ‘data structures’, which you’re chosen course will quickly introduce to you.

Tip 4: is to know when to take your stabilisers off. You may remember from learning to ride a bike that certain moment when you just have to put on a crash helmet and take your feet off the ground. The same is true in coding. You really won’t get anywhere unless you are prepared to try and try and try again. You will fall off, things will fail and you’ll drive yourself crazy trying to work it out but eventually things will click into place and you’ll be freewheeling along with the best of them. And, like riding a bike, once you’ve got the jist of it, you’ll never forget.

There’s two good ways to practice coding. The first is the most obvious - do it on your computer. Type something in and then see if it does what you expected. The second choice - Tip 5:-may seem a bit counterintuitive but is often something required of you when you interview for a coding job. It’s a skill that really separates the wheat from the chaf: coding by hand. This back-to-basics approach demonstrates that you can really think through a problem and spot errors yourself. When you can code competently by hand, you are really on your way to mastering code.

That’s it. Remember these 5 tips and soon you’ll be on your way to amassing fame and fortune.

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