Tips For Aspiring Coders

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Are you fascinated by the world of programming but don’t know where to start? Do all those languages, environments and jargon seem too overwhelming? You want to get into it, but you’re not sure if you’ll make the grade?

You don’t have to be a genius to be a programmer. You only have to have determination and passion. It’s often those two characteristics that will give you success and fulfilment over a fully analytical and total left-brain approach.

It’s not about being computer-like, its being able to think for the computer.

The best way to get into programming is to get into it little by little  and then realise that the mountain is a lot smaller than you thought. It might well be deeper than you thought, as all programmers learn something new on a regular basis.

Programming is rewarding – its a form of art where you can create something amazing out of nothing. In the same way that an artist has his own personal touch to his masterpiece, so you can too create a masterpiece of an application with your own personal touch.

The intriguing thing about programming is that the end product is experienced by your users from an outward perspective. They see only what you want them to see. Behind the scenes lies the building blocks and webs of logic that you have created. You will realise that there are many ways to create the same end-result but the exciting and challenging thing about this ‘job’ is finding the most aesthetic and efficient way of creating that end product.

As you progress in your journey as a programmer, (not that I am a guru myself) you will constantly stumble upon new ways of doing things which will prompt you to constantly think: “If I only knew that a year ago…”. But this is the journey of coding – a contant exciting learning curve of improvement.

So firstly here are some psychological tips:

1. Learn in an outcome based way.

Don’t just read a book or go through a tutorial without installing the required software / IDE and trying things out for yourself. You will get motivated by seeing results.

2. Try things for yourself.

When you don’t fully understand a particular thing, stop and work it out until you understand it. It is precisely this attitude that makes a programmer out of you.

3. If you tend give up easily, programming is probably not for you.

You have to be willing to face a single problem until you find a solution. I have often struggled for days with one single stupid little thing. But after I have done all the googling and tried all the ways that didn’t work, I learnt a stack in the process. This is what it’s about. Learning and patient problem solving skills.

4. Be willing to spend a lot of time on your passion.

If programming is your passion, the things I mentioned above would come naturally :-). The best thing you can do is to give in to your passion and every now and again keep that chair warm until 3 am whilst busy figuring something out.

Some practical tips for starting out.

1. I would recommend downloading and installing Netbeans IDE.

It runs on all major platforms and you can code in variety of languages, including Java, C++, PHP, HTML, CSS and javascript. This is an excellent IDE to start off with.

2. A good starting place would be to go through tutorials on codecademy and also to have a look at www.w3schools.com and also to try out a few youtube videos.

I learned a lot from thenewboston.com.I would suggest that you ignore complicated stuff and focus on the basics. Its at first just understanding the how programming works that’s important. The major rules and ideas that you learn in one language are nearly identical in all other languages. The languages differ in the way they describe variables for instance, but they all use variables. They might slightly differ in the way the do a “For” loop, but they all have for loops.

3. A good language to start off with is Javascript. 

Javascript is a lightweight scripting language that runs on your browser. You can easily write a small javascript program in Netbeans and get the feel of what it’s all about.

4. Decide which line of programming you want to go into.

Choose between languages such as Java, C++ C# where you mostly write desktop or server-based applications or PHP / ASP.NET , Javascript, CSS (among others) with which you write web based applications.

5. Get into SQL  / mySQL.

Nearly all apps or programs requires that you create and setup a database.

6. Start with an idea without knowing how you’re going to code it.

Then find a way. After you have done it, you will start feeling like a programmer :-) (even if it is just a small little program that adds two numbers).

 

This may sound like a mouthful, but once you get the major picture of how things fit together, filling in the details is really not that complicated.

Happy Coding!

 

 

 

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