Updated April 25, 2023
Introduction to Learn to Code For Beginners
In this day and age, learning to code can give you a huge edge. We live in a time when IT has become ubiquitous. Almost every field of work and industry has embraced or seriously considered, including concepts like Big Data, IT, web development, etc. A bit of coding knowledge can take you a long way.
Thankfully, modern-day coding is a lot easier than it was before. For non-developers, learning to code can seem very daunting. But there are a lot of tools online, both free and paid, that make it easier to learn to code. Depending on the time available, you could learn to code in eight to ten weeks. It could take longer or even less. It’s all up to you, but learning coding is not as far-fetched and impossible as before; it is doable.
Here is a look at some of the steps and key things you need to follow and know to learn to code. Explore more about these online, and you can quickly create your prototype. Remember to keep learning and practicing, though. Constant practice is what makes any developer better.
How to Learn Code for Beginners?
Following are the steps to learn code for beginners:
1. Introduce Yourself to the Key and Code Terms
For many people, what makes coding seem confusing is its terminology. To familiarize yourself with the key terminology of coding. The key challenge to building a prototype is that there are a lot of components to know about. Here’s an overview of some of these components, but remember that it may take time to understand them fully. Sometimes, you may not understand them completely, even after you build your prototype.
Let’s understand these components by describing the entire process of a user visiting a website. First, they type in your website address or URL. Once they press enter, the browser sends a request via the internet to a machine that runs the website. This machine is the server.
- Server: Servers are essentially computers that contain all the content, data, and coding to run your website. It receives requests from other client/user computers. You could buy your server, which is expensive, or you could rent storage on them, which is what most individuals or small/medium enterprises do. Amazon Web Services, Slicehost, and other popular web hosts are available. The server contains software that handles the user request. This software is called a web server, our next big component.
- Web Server: Web Servers are software on your server that receives and sends requests and responses from and to the user. The requests and responses are usually in HyperText Markup Language (HTML), the universal language on the internet. Nginx and Apache are popular web servers. While you do not have to get your hands dirty too much on web servers, you need to know how to restart the server since server issues are the type of problem any web developer or website operator faces. So now we know what a server and web server do. The user sends a request to the server, and it’s time for the server to respond. The server must deliver data specific to the client’s request and display it in a format its web browser understands. How does it do that? It sends the request to our next major component: the web application framework.
- Web Application Framework: Web application frameworks are probably the most important component for a web developer. They are responsible for receiving requests and generating an HTML page to be sent back to the user. All the work is done here. Ruby on Rails and Django, the built-in Python, are popular and best examples. When we talk about the best code to learn for beginners, you will spend most of your time because all the coding will happen. It is not super-critical to learn every detail about the framework you choose; you’ll get the hang of it over time and practice. You need to know enough to develop data structures and loops. For tools, you can do most of your programming on Textmate. GitHub is a good option for managing your revisions. So, the web app framework does all the hard work but doesn’t store the data. Where is all the databased? At the database: our next major component.
- Database: Databases store all the data for your website and web application. They are like really massive Excel spreadsheets with row after row of data. MySQL is one of the most popular databases. While you should learn to run basic queries off the database and how to alter the structure, you can use the framework itself to control how to interact with the database. So you have the web app framework to create your HTML pages and send them back to the web server. But you must still develop the HTML and CSS templates, which comprise the next major component.
- HTML and CSS: HTML is the universal format for web pages, and Cascade Style Sheets or CSS is the additional file used to style the HTML. This is one of the most accessible parts of learning to code. It is not programming, but knowing this can give you a huge edge. You could be ready to write your HTML page within weeks. As for tools, Firebug on Firefox is one of the best tools for learners. PSD2HTML is also recommended to turn Photoshop files into HTML.
2. Familiarize Yourself with the Development and Production Environment
You will have a development and production environment when you launch a website. The development environment is basically where you will work on your prototype. Regular users won’t have access to this part of your site. It is essentially a working version of your website with code et al. running on a local machine. This is better done on a Mac than on a PC.
The production environment is where the live version of your website will be located. This is what your user will be able to access. You work on your development environment and then push the final product onto the production environment.
3. More Acronyms and Terms
There are a lot of other acronyms and terms used regularly while coding. Now that you know the major components, these acronyms should be much easier to understand and fit into the larger picture. Here is a look at some of the most popular ones:
Perl, Java, PHP: these are programming languages like Ruby and Python
- XML: it is a format similar to HTML and is typically used by APIs (see below)
- API: an API is essentially a way for websites to interact with each other. For instance, if you want to display certain content or elements from another website, you use that website’s API. So your website sends a request to the other website for that content or element, and the website sends you back an XML file containing the requested content. Your website then reads those XML files and puts them up.
4. Learning Python
Now that you know the terms, acronyms, and major components, it is time to roll up your sleeves and learn some coding. Start off with an introductory understanding of Python and whatever web app framework you choose to work with. If you choose Python, here are some good options:
- Learn Python the hard way: The format sounds tough, but it gets you to understand the basic concepts easily. Most lessons take ten minutes or less. But once you get to the more advanced concepts, this may not be the right tool for you.
- Google Python classes: Many videos and notes are available here as associated exercises. Solve these exercises independently until you get them right without referring to the answers. The whole experience of struggling with the exercises can be a huge learning tool.
There are lots of other resources available online. It’s recommended to join a few of them and do the first few lessons from the options available before you select one. Once you complete one resource, you can go through others to find unfamiliar concepts and get more practice.
5. Learning Django
A Django Tutorial can help you learn almost everything about the tool. Work through the tutorial to form your code, delete it all, and work through it again. Remember that practice makes perfect. The first time you follow the tutorial, you will probably follow the step-by-step instructions without actually understanding each step. As you do it more often, you will get used to the concepts and better focus on how the parts work together.
6. Learning more about Python and general programming
Your foundation is ready at this stage, and it is time to learn more about Python and general programming. There are lots of options available once again. Here are some of them:
- Intro CS class from Udacity: The courses generally have seven self-paced sessions, so don’t worry about deadlines. The Intro CS class typically takes two months, and it is highly recommended that you go for the intermediate programming class after this or the web development class too.
- Intro CS course, Unit 1 from MIT: This is well-taught and approachable. Search more online to find more such resources, and sample them to find out what works best for you. You could even do more than one to strengthen your knowledge.
7. Practice, practice, practice
Now you should have all the skills and knowledge to build your prototype. But it’s not going to be easy. And you will probably not succeed right away. Start with some exercises in Django, for example. They are not as hand-holding as the Django tutorial, but they give enough guidance for those not yet ready to take off the training wheels.
8. Build the prototype
You have the skills, knowledge, and practice. Now it’s time actually to build your prototype. At this point, you could build it within a weekend too! Bear in mind you may not like the final results, but it is a starting point, and at the end of it, you get the satisfaction of seeing the results of your coding.
By the end, You will go from ‘What’s coding?’ to building a functional prototype. That’s worthy of praise right there. But remember that the journey is far from over. It’s just starting. Continue to build prototypes as and when you can, and try different ones. Keep going, and you could become a formidable developer within months.
You can also get into the more complicated components, like the webserver and database. Even if you do not become a core programmer per se, you will still have a clear understanding of how the development process works and can give clear and relevant inputs to a development team. Moreover, you would better understand what can be done and what is impossible, and how long it would take to get things done.
This has been a guide to How to Learn to Code For Beginners. Here we discussed the basic concept and 8 different steps to learn coding for beginners in detail. You can also go through our other suggested articles to learn more –