13 things that will help you learn to code
Here are some resources to get you started from scratch.
This list focuses on learning the Ruby programming language but can be adapted for learning any language (it’s “language-agnostic”). Ruby was the first language that I learned when I first started out with coding. It was recommended to me by the bootcamp that I attended, Makers Academy. Ruby is a really beginner-friendly language because it abstracts away a lot of the complexity that you might find in other languages. Don’t be fooled by its simplicity though — Airbnb and Twitch both use it in production! It’s also very similar to Python, if that’s a language you would like to learn next.
- This free course on CodeCademy. As with any language, the first thing that you should do to familiarise yourself with the Ruby language is its syntax. There are many free online coding courses available on the web. The one that I got started with is Learn Ruby by CodeCademy. It’s an easy but thorough, well-structured and beginner-friendly course.
- Code in a “sandbox” environment. The most important thing is to keep practicing writing code and trying things out. The fastest way to do this directly from your browser with no setup? Repl.it, a sandbox REPL environment where you can write code and immediately see what your code returns.
- If in doubt, Google it. Don’t feel bad about Googling things - half the job is just that! Google every new term, read Wikipedia entries on new topics, try different solutions that you find on StackOverflow, search it on YouTube.
- Write code out instead of copy/pasting things. Write code out yourself to memorize things better!
- Register for free tutoring at Codebar. Codebar is a free and beginner-friendly organisation that runs weekly workshop where people who work in the industry volunteer to mentor people who are learning to code, wherever they may be in their learning journey. I mentored there as well in the past! Codebar also has this AMAZING list of tutorials that you should definitely check out. You might also want to look at Free CodeCamp Meetups and CodeCademy Meetups. Meetup in general is fantastic for finding tech-related workshops!
- Look at official documentation for reference. For Ruby, check out the official Ruby documentation. You will find resources such as this free book about programming in Ruby, and this tutorial for beginners called 10 Minutes to Your First Ruby Application. Try following along on Repl.it. One of the best things about Ruby is how intuitive the methods are. Their names are very clear about what they do. Check out the class methods for Arrays or String.
- Practice with code exercises on Codewars. Try your hands at some of the exercises on here. Each exercise (called a ‘kata’ after the exercises in some martial arts) will test your process and problem-solving skills, which are very important when coding and which you will refine as you go along. Try to get to level 6. If you struggle with this, don’t worry — stay calm. Remaining calm, collected, and confidence is super important while problem-solving. Take small steps towards solving the next possible things. Plan things out. Do as much Googling as you want. When in doubt, Google it. Check out StackOverflow. Look for new methods. Go ahead and try things out. It’s like solving a puzzle, and it’s never boring. Enjoy it!
- Install a code editor. If you would like to save some of the code you’ve written, then definitely download a code editor. Some of the most popular ones are Visual Studio Code, Sublime, and Atom. I use Visual Studio Code. I like its built-in terminal, which becomes a very useful tool later on in software development.
- Learn how to use your terminal. The terminal is important for navigating your computer’s files and folders, creating new ones, and downloading software and packages. I learned to use my terminal through this course on CodeCademy.
- Set up your local Ruby environment (moderate difficulty). Once you’ve installed your local code editor, you can copy and paste your code in the Repl.it mentioned earlier to run your code. This is your best choice if you’re running on Windows. If you’re on a Mac, then open up your Terminal and follow the instructions to install Ruby. Then, on your Terminal, type irb` — you should be able to code right there, similarly to the browser Repl! If you get to this point, then well done. Maybe this is something you really enjoy and should consider doing more. If you would like more information, feel free to reach out to me or leave a comment below so that I can get back to you! I’m here to help.
- If this is your jam, look at paid courses. I recently graduated from Makers Academy, an intensive 12-week software development bootcamp. It was definitely intense, but I loved it and would highly, highly recommend it. You learn how to put things together and be ready for the industry as soon as you graduate.
- Ask yourself: “Am I a better developer than I was yesterday?” If the answer is yes, you’re on the right track.
- Level up. To go from beginner developer to