It’s interesting to see how much coding and programming have both grown in popularity over the last few years. What seemed to be out of reach for most not too long ago has been greatly democratized thanks to the various tools at our disposal today. However, while coding is becoming easier to dabble in, becoming a great programmer is not something that happens overnight. And while some will try to make you think otherwise, it is not an easy art to master. Before you decide to start coding, here are a few things you should consider first.
You’ll Need Some Help
Whether you decide to go the traditional route and get an actual degree or become a self-taught coder is your decision. But know that you’ll never become a great coder by checking a few YouTube videos and checking a few tutorials online. You will need someone to guide you along the way to make sure that you don’t replicate some errors that could end up affecting your codes and programming.
That doesn’t mean, however that you absolutely have to go to school to be a good coder. There are plenty of courses and tutors out there for any level of coding that will be able to help depending on your experience level and where you need help at the moment.
Services like Superprof, for instance, will connect you with qualified IT tutors in your area. Superprof’s courses cover a wide variety of programming languages. They also offer courses for people preparing for their GCSE exams. Tutors can either offer face to face formation or by distance through Skype. These could be a great way to brush up on specific skills you need or polish your overall coding and programming skills.
Start with the Basics
You have to learn to walk before you learn to run, and one of the biggest mistakes coders make is expecting that they’ll be good programmers without understanding the basics first. This is why you’ll have to learn how programs and computers actually work before you start coding for them. You should also consider starting with basic languages like C++ first, so you can understand the basic rules of coding before moving to other popular languages like Python, for instance.
It’s impossible to become a great programmer if you don’t have the patience for it. A large portion of coding is about solving issues, and some bugs can sometimes drive you mad. But only patient coders can look at problems thoroughly, go back on their tracks, and see where they could have made a mistake.
A lot of coders also come in with unrealistic expectations. They don’t know what coding is really about and aren’t ready to deal with the complexity of computer language and how to handle roadblocks. Know that you may have to restart projects all over again or never be able to solve bugs, so make sure that you’re up for this challenge.
Set Goals for Yourself
If you’re serious about coding, you should always make sure that you set objectives and goals for yourself. It’s all fine and good if you’re just studying it as a hobby, but if you want to become a professional, you’ll have to set benchmarks and monitor your success and progress.
Setting goals will also help you stay motivated and focused. For instance, if you wanted to learn how to program PHP, then one easy goal could be to give yourself one week to complete a project. Then you could move to another one until you’ve mastered your craft.
You can choose any goal that you want. The important part is that it is feasible given your current level. Setting objectives that are too difficult to reach might discourage you, but by starting small, you’ll pick up on specific patterns and mistakes earlier on and carry this knowledge with you as you progress.
If you’re struggling to find ideas for projects, there are tons of tools that you can use. LiveCode is a live platform where programmers build products in real-time. These will not only give you ideas for great projects and products but show you some neat tricks along the way.
Very few get anywhere with coding unless they’re working with other people. Even if coding may look like a solitary activity, whole teams work on projects and collaboration is what turns ordinary or bad coders into geniuses.
This is why you should surround yourself with skilled coders and take advantage of social coding to improve on your skills. There is a massive community of coders just like you out there who will be more than happy to help you.
There are tons of coding oriented social platforms like GitHub and StackOverflow that will allow you to connect with other members and share tips and tricks.
Always Keep Learning
Coders live in a perpetual state of helplessness as new technology and languages are continually being unrolled. But this is not a bad thing, it’s just the nature of programming. This is why you’ll have to be prepared always to learn more. There is no limit to what you can learn when it comes to coding, and you’ll have to constantly continue your education if you want to stay on top of the game.
This also means that you should not be too worried about how much you know or not know about programming. Even the best programmers out there are still learning. This only means that you can’t afford to stand still and pat yourself on the back once you think you’ve mastered a specific language. There’s also something new.
Once you’ve mastered basic programming, you could start learning algorithms, for instance. Algorithms are really at the centre of everything related to computer science, and someone who understands how algorithms work will always have a leg up on the rest. Learning how to solve algorithms will also keep your programming mind sharp and make you better at problem-solving in all aspects.
Also, make sure that you always look up coding documentation. Code documentation contains essential information in the library for the framework you’re using and can help you grasp certain concepts much faster. While they may look intimidating at first, there’s no need to be scared as they’re your best companions when it comes to learning. Just make sure that you take one step at a time.
And one more thing, consider working with a mentor if you really want to become a great coder. A skilled and experienced programmer in the field you’re interested in could show you the ropes, but more accurately help you avoid mistakes they’ve made in the past that may have affected their progress.
Knowing how to program code can be a valuable tool that could serve you throughout your professional life. Make sure, however that you start on a strong foundation and with realistic expectations.