Learning to Code

Have you ever had a great idea for a website or app, but just couldn’t figure out how to actually build it? Do long lines of code look completely foreign to you? Confusing? Maybe even intimidating?

It’s a common misconception that you need to take some sort of formal class to learn how to make a website or an app. People ask me almost every single day, “how did you learn to do THAT?”.

My answer? I taught myself.

Computer Science, or “coding” as it’s most commonly called, IS actually something that you can teach yourself.

With a wealth of information and free resources floating around the Internet, teaching yourself how to code has never been easier. Yes, it is still an arduous process (including A LOT of trial/error and a few head-banging moments), but it’s EXTREMELY rewarding when you start to build impressive products from scratch.

Check out a few easy tips on how to get started:

WHAT to Learn

A big question: “What language should I learn?”

There’s no easy answer; it honestly depends on what you are trying to build.

However, if you are really just interested in learning the basics, I would suggest starting with HTML/CSS. These are the primary languages for learning how to create a website; they are also the simplest, fastest (and most likely FREE!) languages to learn.

WHERE to Learn

1. Code Academy

Terrific online tool to learn by doing. They start simple and progressively get more complex. Try it here.

2. W3Schools.org

Great resource to look up everything you need to know about HTML and CSS (and more!). Check their first HTML tutorial <a href="http://www.w3schools.com/html/default commander cialis en belgique.asp” onclick=”_gaq.push([‘_trackEvent’, ‘outbound-article’, ‘http://www.w3schools.com/html/default.asp’, ‘here’]);” >here.

3. Code.org

Similar to Code Academy, it’s a great online tool to use as you first learn to code. Check it out here.

4. Community Forums (Ex: StackOverFlow)

As you begin to make your first webpage or write your first program, you WILL have questions. These forums have answers to just about every question you can think of. For example: Add an image to the left of text

Those three resources above are great starting points for your foray into the coding world.

However, the absolute BEST way to learn is to try it yourself! Even if you have no clue what you are doing, using these websites (plus a little trial and error) to create your first website or computer program by yourself is completely possible. Get to work!

HOW to Learn

“What program should I use?”
“What kind of computer is best?”
“Do I need to buy anything?”

All of these are valid questions. Again, the answers largely depend on what you language you are using.  Here are three of the most common software applications and IDE’s (Integrated Development Environment) for coding.

1. Sublime Text 2 (or 3)

Pretty much the go-to for any language. If you are not sure what to use, just start with a free trial of Sublime Text, which can be downloaded here. When I am coding in PHP, HTML, CSS, and/or Javascript, Sublime Text is — without question — my first choice.

Sublime is also a great tool because is it very extendable. There are hundreds of packages that can be installed as extensions using a very helpful plugin called Package Control.

2. Eclipse

This is the most popular IDE, which is most popular for programming in Java. It is very feature-heavy and has a fairly large learning curve, but once you learn how to use it, you can do some awesome things!

3. xCode

If you own a Mac, then xCode already comes with your computer (or can be easily downloaded from the App Store – just click the title above!)  If you are building an application for an iPhone or Mac, or want to learn how to code in C or Objective C, this is application you want to use.

While this is simply a brief look at some of the tools available when first learning to code, the websites and resources above offer a cheap (mostly free) way to become well-versed in any language and give you a GREAT foundation to start building your first code-based projects.

Happy coding!

Jack WohlfertJack Wohlfert

Jack Wohlfert - @jwohlfert23

Co-Founder, Surge4. Entrepreneur, Web Developer, Tar Heel.