Learning to Code: Getting Started!

How to learn to code and become a great coder : getting started

If you can learn to write good clean code and stay up to date you will have a talent that will always be in demand and future proofed. The great thing these days is there are many free resources online to help you learn and improve your coding knowledge and expertise. Over a series of pieces we w, ll discuss various common languages that are heavily in demand (java, ruby, python, and javascript among others). To get the ball rolling we will start from the perspective of someone just starting out and then quickly point you in the right direction of more detailed resources.

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Getting started

Scratch, developed by MIT ( Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

This is a great place to start regardless of what language you’d like to specialise in. While it is often used to get kids started on coding, it is equally fun and rewarding for anyone to use. It also offers the potential to create useful, interesting and complex projects very quickly. A quick search on youtube will yield many interesting projects created using Scratch.

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Learn by MOOCs (massive open online courses)

If you feel Scratch is too easy for you, then there are a range of great MOOCs (massive open online courses) which will walk you through really useful introduction to programming courses. Udacity is a good one that we have often used. However it is only one of many out there that quickly give you a good grounding in the concepts and logic behind creating code in virtually all coding languages. Even better is the fact that many of these courses are free! Which is an ideal way to see if coding is for you. Once you have done a quick introductory course into the general concepts of computing and programming you can then choose which language you want to learn more about. We have found excellent courses in Java, Ruby, Javascript and Python among others on Udacity alone, but see that just as a starting point.

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Online discussion groups

Then, once you become confident in your chosen language it is important to start making contacts with the wider community in that language, both online and offline. Online is a natural starting point because you may have already googled something you were stuck on and found an online forum dedicated specifically to language and even the problem you are dealing with. As a coder Github is a great resource you should be aware of, and to also share a recruiter’s tip with you https://softwareplacements.ie/blog/software-developer-tips-from-michael-diver/ – being active there will do no harm to your future recruitment prospects!

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You will find a forum and user for every coding language, and often subgroups specifically dealing with the projects you are working on. They are a great resource and one you will quickly find yourself using all the time!

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Stack overflow is one of our favourites and is well worth checking out, both to answer particular problems and also just to read the explanations and comments posted by other users.

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Offline meetups

Offline you will find that there is invariably some sort of local meetups taking place somewhere near you. If you can’t find something specific to your chosen language then cast the net a little wider and look for something like CoderDojo (https://coderdojo.com/) or a similar coding meetup initiative. We’re a big supporter (https://softwareplacements.ie/blog/meet-coder-dojo-a-great-initiative-in-promoting-coding-to-kids/) of CoderDojo in particular but anything like this will help you to meet like minded people. These meetups are great for sharing ideas, finding out how other people solved problems you have encountered and generally finding out what’s going on locally.

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Hackathons are also a great way to get to meet fellow coders, designers and entrepreneurs all in one place. Generally taking place over a weekend, with food and many resources supplied. The challenge is to take a concept from a sketch to a working MVP (minimum viable product) from meeting and forming teams on the Friday evening to pitching the concept on the Sunday afternoon. This is a really good way to see just what your coding skills are like, and by learning from others you work with.

Thanks and more to follow

We hope you find this high-level introduction useful and we look forward to going into more detail over the coming articles about specific languages in big demand for companies in Ireland and globally.

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