It’s been a while since I started coding. The eco-system is so vast I don’t think I’ll ever know it all, unless someone invents a machine for learning osmosis! But one thing that I really have become good at it sifting through information and taking it in. After a year of coding these are some of the things I feel beginners should take in stride and keep in mind. While I no longer consider myself a newbie any more and I do quite a bit of freelancing now, these are some things I wish I had known while starting out and consider them quite important!:
- Have a game plan. Just starting off at C++ because that’s what everyone else does isn’t a plan. I suggest going “outside-in” i.e. HTML onwards. If you’re unsure ask yourself what it is that you want to be able to ultimately build with your code.
- Learn how to think step wise i.e. break details down into small steps. For this use a pen and paper to draw flowcharts, diagrams or make a list of steps. I find doodling out steps to be pretty useful.
- Discipline is important. Code a bit everyday. Treat it like you would work, school or whatever it is that you do in your everyday life.
- Project based learning will teach you more than reading books. Reading Books is great but “coding” is putting theory into practice. This is what will help you ultimately.
- Start using a code editor or IDE right from the beginning. It can be daunting but debugging tools are important.
- Make an account on stack-overflow. Sure you might feel dumb asking silly questions but mostly people are helpful and you will receive an answer to your questions.
- Don’t be afraid of taking up that first freelance paid project. There’s nothing that you can’t solve through googling and it’s a good form of PBL (project-based-learning).
- Coding is a creative-academic process. Take a break when needed.
And I’ve saved the best for last! This is something I picked up while taking the “Learning how to learn” class on Coursera. Most of us do it but are unable to pin point on how and why we dream about things that we’ve been actively thinking about. Have a look at an info-graphic I did for learning and memory tips from the course here.
- Code a bit before bedtime! During sleep your brain goes into a diffused mode of thinking and you’re able to passively solve and think about problems more creatively. Which is why, when you’re stuck on something, it does actually help to sleep on it.