Want to learn how to code but don't know where to start? This post will help.

The hardest part about learning something new is getting started.


First things first

There are things you know, things you know you don't know, and things you don't know you don't know. Heavy emphasis on the last part, "You don't know what you don't know."

Before you start coding, you need to know a few things.

  • What is coding?
  • How do you code?
  • What are the costs?

Let's dive in.

What is coding?

Coding is nothing more than writing text in a text editor. It's like writing a document in Word, but A LOT less glamorous! Then it's all about writing words in a certain order, and that's all there is to it.

To write code, you need to download a program called a text editor. Take a look at Sublime, VS Code or Atom. These are all text editors for coding. They come with text highlighting so you can read code faster and find errors faster, and you can add plugins to help you code faster, too. It's like Microsoft Word, but good.

How to code?

There are several different types of coding. In this blog, we talk about web development, so we're somewhat ignoring languages like C++ and focusing on languages like JavaScript. But PLEASE do NOT start there.

When you start learning to web development, you don't need to know Python, or JavaScript. Don't get involved in all of that stuff yet. There's plenty of time to learn all of that. You NEED to start with: HTML and CSS. Every single web developer can writ HTML and some basic CSS because it's easy and it's used on every website in the world.

Learn HTML first. And then get familiar with basic CSS.

Here's a pro tip: almost everything on a website is made of boxes; rectangles and squares. The internet is an older technology that needs to support other older technologies, and boxes are the easiest shape to render.

What are the costs?

I started learning web devleopment when I was 10 years old, in 1999, before YouTube exists, before websites had videos, before box shadows and animations. At age 10, with almost no resources, and no certainly no money to pay for courses. I learned it all for free. And so can you!

Websites like https://www.w3schools.com/ and http://www.tizag.com/ are great starting points! It'll teach you all the basics — and this will give you a taste of what basic coding is like. Now don't confuse this with programming. Programming is much more logic heavy, but it's not hard. It's quantum mechanics or anything, it's really just a series of commands: if something is true or false, execute a task.

Once you're ready to move on passed the basics, Kalob.io can help you after that!

How to find answers

Can I tell you a secret? Great programmers don't know everything. There's simply too much to know. In fact, most of us forget things fairly often and need a quick refresher. So where do we go for answers? 

Google. 

I'm not even joking. Well, I'm joking a little bit, because Google mostly just sends us to a website called StackOverflow. StackOverflow, or SO for short, is where almost every programming question has been asked. 

Always start by Googling your question, and reading a couple pages. If what you find is not useful, try posting a question in our Learning to Code Facebook group. And if you aren't able to get any help or direction from the group, reword your question, gather lots of details, and post your question on StackOverflow. 

How to ask great questions

Asking coding questions isn't as easy as saying, "please give me code to do this thing". In fact, that question will get you a lot of negative attention — don't do this. 

To ask a great question, be specific about your problem: which language are you writing, what feature are you writing, what are you trying to achieve? 

Don't forget to write proper sentences, use the best sentence structure and grammar that you can use, and don't assume other developers will give you answers — most of us will direct you to a place where you can learn more. 

Where to go now

First things first, download your text editor of choice (try VS Code, it's free), and then start learning some basic HTML! It'll take you about 15 minutes to get started and to write your first line of code. That's it!

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About the author

Kalob Taulien

Full stack developer. Entrepreneur and dev teacher. Over 100,00 students world wide.

I started making websites long before CSS had rounded corners, before JavaScript was more popular than oxygen and videos could only be played through Macromedia Flash. 

Today I'm a full stack LAMPP (PHP and Python) developer that enjoys teaching web development and working with startups. 

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