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How Do I Learn To Code?

Stashed in: Learn to program., Girls Who Code

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I met Rockbot recently at a Nodebots event she was running, and she is teh awesome! Heed her wisdom, aspiring coders!

Hrm. Lacking concrete recommendations.

1) Pick a language to learn. There are LOADS of languages – pick the one that seems to be good for now. You can always switch later (in fact, knowing one language makes it easier to learn another). The best way to pick a language is to figure out what sort of things you want to do – do you want to play with web stuff? Phone stuff? Hardware stuff? The answer to these questions will help you narrow down your options and pick the right language for you to learn.

2) Start messing around with code. Get stuck, ask questions, mess around. Get stuck, ask questions, mess around some more. This is where things get frustrating, but also where you do the most learning. For asking questions: Stack Overflow is a really good resource (best used when searching via Google and accessing specific topics). Also reach out on IRC and Google Groups (depending on what you’re trying to do). Most important, though, is to meet people who are doing what you want to do and ask questions in person. (When you’re starting out, you don’t yet know the vocabulary you need to ask good questions. Being able to talk to people and say “this thingie isn’t doing the whatchamacallit I was hoping it would – why not?” and have them understand that you’re talking about databases and storage is MAGICAL.) Go to and search for the language you picked earlier. Go to those events. Ask questions, get involved, become a better programmer.

Words of warning: it is hard. You WILL mess up. But programming is the closest thing to alchemy that you can get in the 21st century (we turn 0s and 1s into things that people use, sometimes to save lives!). It’s so incredibly rewarding and I’m so grateful I get to do it every day.

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