Start to code - Part 1: You are the CSS to my HTML

June 4, 2016

Programming is not an easy job. Don’t let yourself tricked by some of those courses adverts claiming that you will become an expert programmer in just a few weeks of 2 hours learning pr day, with no previous knowledge required.
On the other hand, if you have even a small hint that you may like coding, or your are purely curious about it, give it a try! it may worth the effort! For this first part you will just need time and commitment.

When I started this blog, I planned to publish only technical articles related to the things I am learning about, or developing. However, since a few weeks, the company I’m working for, introduced this concept of lightning talks, and my first presentation will be about how you can start your web development journey with absolute zero knowledge. This is how I ended up writing this series of 3 articles.

There are also 3 aspects I would like to clarify before starting:

  1. this article is mainly addressed to people with no or very little previous programming experience
  2. the main subject is about learning to code, but focused on web development
  3. this is not some kind of ultimate guide on how to become a web developer. It’s more about my personal experience, resources I found useful along the way, and things that I would do differently, or more efficiently if I could start it all over again. There is a huge amount of articles on this topic that you can find online, and you should document yourself well before taking any decision about the things you want to learn.

Now that we clarified the context, we can begin:

Start easy

Free Code Camp is a very good place to start the journey. Check their “map” and just begin with the basic paths:

  • HTML5 and CSS – 5 hours
  • Responsive Design – 5 hours
  • JQuery – 3 hours
  • Basic Front End Projects
  • Basic JavaScript – 10 hours

Free Code Camp exercises and projects are web based, meaning you will not need to install any software on your computer, or use any specific operating system. Everything will happen in your browser. This will allow you to start practicing quickly, without frustrating configuration steps.
Personally, I’m not a huge fan of in browser programming, and I prefer my own editor and environment, but at this point the main goal is to build things and not to lose either time or focus. This is the moment when you will realize if web development is for you, and that you will enjoy spending many, many hours learning new things.

I just mentioned focus. Those first weeks are generally a time of questions and doubts, a time when you would like to know a lot of things, a time when you will find a lot of interesting subjects to read about … and to get lost into. Focus is essential, especially at the beginning of your path. Don’t ask yourself too many questions at this point. Just progress through the assignments and projects.

When finished the paths above and the projects you will:

  • have a pretty good idea if you enjoy coding or not
  • have some solid frontend basics knowledge
  • developed your first portfolio projects
  • be able to build a static presentation website

If the steps above just made you curious to see what’s next, before proceeding to more serious stuff, would be a good moment to find a bit more about the web, as you already have some practical understanding. The following resources from The Odin Project would be a good start:

http://www.theodinproject.com/introduction-to-web-development/what-a-web-developer-does
http://www.theodinproject.com/web-development-101/how-does-the-web-work
http://www.theodinproject.com/web-development-101/terms-to-know

Good, it’s now time to choose your full stack dev weapons!