The question of how to code for beginners is an incredibly popular one. If you’re thinking the same, you’re not alone. Post-pandemic, many people are turning to programming and software development, either in an effort to improve their skill set or switch careers.
There are ample job opportunities that make use of programming, as new and exciting positions appear regularly.
Here, we’re going to brief you on how to code for beginners, offer some resources to learn coding online, and also cover the basics of coding for beginners.
Why Learn to Code?
You’ve probably heard it countless times — programming is the skill of the future and that almost all jobs will need some level of coding skills. This is true, but the benefits go beyond just application in your role.
Coding is an excellent way to exercise your mind, and you can improve both your professional and personal career with applications and scripts built just by yourself.
The ability to write programs does of course open up opportunities for you in a wide variety of fields. If you’re looking to switch careers or boost your current career track, then you can’t go wrong with coding.
Furthermore, the salaries in the tech industry are among the best, so if you want to earn more, then coding is an excellent, realistic way to do it.
The Best Way to Learn How to Code
So, with all that pep talk out of the way, we need to focus on the specifics of how to learn programming.
You need to start by covering the basics of coding for beginners — things such as variable types, functions, conditional statements, and so on. Often, whatever course you take, whether that’s a video series or written material, should explain this with examples for you to carry out yourself. Programming is a skill that is best learned with hands-on experience.
A little further down we explain how to pick a specific programming language. This should be one of your first steps. While languages are often used in multiple ways (web development, machine learning and data analysis, desktop application development, etc.), you’ll want to have a general idea of what you want your career as a programmer to be.
Do you want to be a web developer? A machine learning engineer? A game developer? All of these will require you to focus on different languages. Once settled on a language, however, you can pick a specific course to learn the building blocks of programs.
And as you learn things such as conditional statements, loops, functions, and objects, you’ll have to apply them in projects. Most courses will ask you to build something, and these projects increase in complexity as you master the ideas behind programming.
To sum up, you learn programming by deciding on a language based on what you want your career as a programmer to be like (this itself can take effort!), learn the language, and build projects as you go along.
Basics of Coding for Beginners
The coding basics for beginners first involves knowing a little about languages themselves.
Programming languages help you communicate with a computer, i.e., it is a specific language that gets a computer to do things. This language resembles English, but with specific words and grammar (in programming parlance, this is called “syntax”) that explicitly define a command to the computer.
There are different types of programming languages as well, which serve different purposes and are used in different applications. These are:
- Low-Level Languages: They closely resemble binary code and are difficult to learn and write. For example, Assembly is a low-level language. C and C++ are middle-level languages. You can write operating systems, internet browsers, database systems, image/video/sound processing software in these languages.
- High-Level Languages: They are easy to code and learn. Most of the popular high-level languages used today are Java, PERL, Python, etc. These languages have a variety of applications.
What Tools Are Needed for Coding?
At first, you may not need tools to start coding, as many courses offer browser-based environments to run your code.
You can happily use a browser-based environment in your initial weeks, but you will eventually want to move on to a proper editor later.
How Can I Decide on My First Programming Language?
This is a very important step that will take some thought. The language you decide to start with doesn’t need to be the only language you program in for the rest of your life.
Programming languages have different rules or syntax — but they share common concepts. First, pick a language based on what you want to specialize in.
There are many languages, each with its own particular capabilities and prominence in specific applications.
- Visual Basic
- Assembly Language
Coding Tips for Beginners
The best coding tips for beginners have in fact less to do with specific actionable tasks, and more to do with general guidelines when you get stuck.
The number one tip is to actually work on a project. You will face roadblocks and feel frustrated, but Google can go a long way in solving your problems. Such instances are also a good time to learn the ever-important skill of debugging.
The next best tip is to be thorough with the fundamentals. Having a good grasp of these concepts will give you the aha moment you need to solve a tough problem. A high-quality source for knowledge on the fundamentals is MIT OpenCourseWare.
If you find yourself facing a particularly tricky problem, try searching online for others who have written similar programs, and see how they’ve approached the problem. The code may not be identical to yours, but the logic and execution may be. There is a lot to be learned simply from reading other programmers’ code.
A Brief Step-by-Step Guide to Learning How to Code
While it may seem daunting, the actual process of coding for beginners can actually be summed up in a few succinct steps:
- Pick a programming language; Python is a good choice for beginners.
- Learn the basics of programming, such as object-oriented programming, from videos, online courses, or written material.
- Write a few simple programs incorporating all the basic concepts, and then consider working on a bigger project.
- Complete the bigger project and work on more, constantly challenging yourself by using new concepts and ideas.
- Rinse and repeat, and you’ll be surprised at how far you’ve come.
- Should you be interested, apply for an internship or job.
Most Popular Programming Languages
2. HyperText Preprocessor (PHP)
PHP is an open-source, server-side scripting language used for the development of web applications. It is a widely used language that allows you to add dynamic information to websites.
PHP is particularly good for database access, allowing you to access and store relevant information efficiently. One particularly popular use case of PHP is the development of an e-commerce website.
Python is a general-purpose language that is an excellent entry point to the world of programming for beginners. It is easy to read and understand, and is generally more forgiving with its syntax. Python is used just about everywhere, including web applications, data analysis, AI, machine learning, and social media applications.
Ruby on Rails is a server-side web-application framework that includes everything needed to create database-backed web applications according to the Model-View-Controller (MVC) architecture. The framework provides default structures for a database, web services, and web pages. If you’re interested in developing web applications, the Ruby On Rails framework could be a good start.
Go is an open-source programming language that makes it easy to build reliable, simple, and efficient software with high performance. Go is syntactically similar to C, but with memory safety, garbage collection, structural typing, and simpler concurrency/multithreading. It is used in building cloud-based and server-side applications, among other things.
6. Objective-C and Swift
Both of these programming languages are mainly used for macOS and iOS i.e. making applications for Apple devices. If you are keen on developing mobile applications on iOS, then you should learn one of them.
Objective C is an old language and hence robust. It is derived from C and Smalltalk. However, Swift is a rapidly growing language and has good performance. It is also easy to read and maintain, which is why it is recommended for new iOS coders.
C-sharp is a general-purpose programming language used to develop a wide range of applications. You can develop video games and web applications, among much else. The popular Unity game engine uses C#.
Java is a class-based Object-Oriented programming language. Kotlin is a newer language, with some advantages over Java. Kotlin is easier to learn but it doesn’t have as large a community as Java does. They are both used for Android app development, among other things.
Popular Markup Languages
Web pages use HTML/CSS. Learning these two is the first step in becoming a web developer. Both of these can be learned in a matter of weeks.
HyperText Markup Language (HTML) structures text and content like images and videos that you see on websites, and is very simple and easy to learn. Cascading style sheets, or CSS, is used alongside HTML to style and format content on your web pages. You can change the color and size of elements, change the entire layout of a webpage and impart visual flair to a website.
SQL is a language that is used to manage data in a relational database management system. It is essentially used to communicate with a database. SQL is not difficult, and every programmer will benefit from learning it. It is the dominant database language, and should be the one you first learn.
How to Learn to Code for Free
The best part about programming is that you can learn it entirely for free. All you need is the will and perseverance, and the knowledge of knowing where to look for the right information. It’s a matter of actually building something by yourself and seeing it through, no matter what challenges you face.
Fortunately, there are several free resources at your disposal to learn coding. Hackr is a good example, but you have several other platforms as well. You could sign up for a free course at one of the many educational platforms online, like Coursera, or just use YouTube. You could also look at documentation and find a programming partner online.
You might also want to check out platforms like Codewars, which bundles the whole coding experience into a game-like competition. The platform offers numerous coding challenges that test particular skill sets. This is also an excellent way to see how other people approach problems.
You are only limited by your imagination. There are no financial barriers to coding, so pick a language, a project, and a course to learn the basics from, and get started.
The Best Time to Code is Now
All you need is the passion and the time to learn programming. You’ll be surprised how good you become, even in a few weeks. No matter the language you choose, persevere through and focus on building projects. Anyone can become a programmer and there has never been a better time to be one.
Interested in how to learn coding for beginners? Check out Hackr.io’s top intro to programming tutorials and courses. Good luck and remember to keep at it!
Frequently Asked Questions
How Does a Beginner Start Coding?
You first need to have an understanding of the basics and the types of programming languages and their purposes. With this theory under your belt, you can move on to picking a language and using tutorials to help you build a project. As far as resources and tutorials go, your options are virtually limitless — including videos and written material. You could, for example, go through our tutorial on how to learn programming.
A large part of programming is independent learning. Google will be an excellent friend and everything you need to solve a problem should almost certainly be available online.
Can I Teach Myself Coding?
The answer is, without a doubt, yes. The number of people that have learned to code independently through just video tutorials and documentation is large, and many of them have done this well into their lives. What you will not be able to compromise on is perseverance and effort.
82-year-old Masako Wakamiya is proof of this. When she first began to write code, she used an abacus for math. Today she is one of the world's oldest iPhone app developers, a trailblazer in making smartphones accessible for the elderly.
People are also reading:
- What is Programming?
- What are Programming Languages?
- Best Programming Books
- Best Programming Interview Questions
- Programming Languages for Getting a Jobs
- What is Procedural Programming?
- Free Coding Bootcamp
- Programming Terms and Definition
- Best Web Development IDE
- How to Code a Game?
- What is Blockchain programming?