Your brain might be like mine or quite the opposite. I have friends that can churn out complex code in an evening, but can’t write a guest blog to save their lives. I believe that not everyone is meant to excel in all areas. It took me a long time to realize that I am a writer and a creative mind that needs to leave the coding world to those who truly own it. You will never know where you fit in if you never try it. Please don’t hesitate to block off some time and jump in to get those wheels turning with something that catches your eye.
Spots To Learn
There are so many ways and places to learn. I am going to list the ones that I know and hopefully it’s a good start for anyone looking for more. I truly think that if you have the right drive and ability to learn that you can quickly grow into some of these learning environments and do big things.
Remember not to just take my word for it either. Take some of my thoughts and challenge them with research and listening to the pro’s out in the field. I share the following after I had spent years looking and researching the world of coding. I really thought that after retirement I would finally be able to go to a boot camp and dive in as I was surrounded by so many people with the knowledge.
Here are some of the ways you can get into the world of coding and the overwhelming majority are free. You will pay for hands on tutoring because everything costs either time or money. That applies to everything in life.
- Code Camps: Free Code Camp, Code Avengers, Best Code Bootcamps
- Online Courses: Coursera, Edx.org, CodeAcademy, Code.org, Khan Academy, Code School,
- Library: Actual books are still a thing and they are quiet, some with wifi and all day to read. Look to your local library as a serious way to learn.
- Local College: Check community colleges local to you and vocational schools.
- Self-Taught: Build a Site, do random projects, or use a mix of techniques.
- Hands-On: Setup a local environment and build something.
- Local Projects: You can stop by a business, charity, or start your own site and learn as you go.
Some of the things on the list could be financially impossible to do like the code camps if you are limited in the funds department. You really have to clear your calendar for something like that and avoid any and all distractions that you might have for the duration of the course. Once you commit you have to go “all in” otherwise you do nothing but waste your time and money. I wanted to do one of these so bad but my location (South Korea) and employment (U.S. Air Force) made this impossible to do at the time. Now would be a good time to do one, but like you, I have to weigh my desires.
What To Learn
If I may, I have been learning over the last few years and during that time I found some fantastic YouTube channels that do a wonderful job at teaching front-end development and more. Learning is more than just watching videos. You have to challenge yourself, join communities and take on real projects that push you to learn. This is also known as “executing”. The bigger question on what you should learn is truly an overwhelming one to address. There are simply so many old and new ideas being introduced to the world on a daily basis.
You will find endless GitHub projects to contribute to or use, and people that tell you that Ruby on Rails is so much better than PHP/MySQL. We all know that everyone has opinions. You have to find what is right for you. Ask anyone who will give you the time of day, but don’t sit on the pot for too long. Time is precious my friend.
You will quickly find that you can use many tools to get a certain result. It’s what is understandable to you and works for your brain. Like Legos, you have to understand each building block to get a final result that works for you. For me, that means using WordPress, writing on a constant basis, marketing content, and everything that comes with it. Coding is really not in my wheelhouse. Like anything, I could learn it if I really wanted to, but I don’t. I want to be a creator using text, audio, and video to describe this part of the world I spend my time in.
Do what is right for you and set a reasonable goal. Work hard to achieve it and then brag about it to anyone who will listen. If you can’t find anyone to listen to then let me know. I love listening to success or reasonable failure.
Tools Of the Trade
The last thing I want to cover is some of the tools you can use to get the job done. Any job. I am not going to list tools that cost money. There is simply too many tools that are free and open source and that is something I deeply support. I would be foolish not to support these types of community projects because I want them to live on. Note that donating is not the same as paying a set price. No one is forced to donate, but I try to give back to the tools I use the most because they earned it.
If you become a developer using open-source tools, I hope that you might give back to the projects that gave to you freely. This can be through donation or contributing code, marketing, design, or whatever is needed. We need a lot more fresh ideas and contributions as our online world expands under some of the most amazing people the world has seen so far.
- Atom: Github open-source project. Set it up with Levelup Tuts.
- Aptana: Open-source IDE. Full environment tool.
- FreeMind: Brainstorming Java tool that can help organize your thoughts. Cross platform.
- XAMPP: A very helpful Apache environment for local development. PHP & MySQL
- W3 Schools: Tons of tools and help. This is a great asset to bookmark.
If there are other tips or tools that I didn’t include please let me know in the comments. It’s impossible to list every awesome project, but I want to provide as much info as possible. Add your own advice to would be developers as well if you don’t have a tool to add to the list. The most popular tools I will list in the post through edits.
If you have a personal story about the tools listed please feel free to list that as well. I always enjoy a personal success story! I will end saying that for the longest time I leaned on Dreamweaver to make sure my code was good. That’s my HTML & CSS code. I stopped using it a few years ago and today I have Atom installed in place of Dreamweaver. Atom is probably the single most used program on my computer.
There isn’t much keeping me on Windows these days and I hope to move back to Linux again soon as more incredible tools go cross-platform. We’ll keep the OS wars for another post.