One of the most exciting things about getting into coding is all the possibilities that open up. There are so many different languages, frameworks, and applications for coders to choose from, there’s something to fit every style. This is also one of the hardest things about learning to code… until you have the experience to know what aspect will best suit your interests, how do you know where to focus your time and energy in learning?
My journey is very typical. I started with HTML and CSS, arguably the easiest to learn because of the distinct lack of logic required. Compared to other languages, HTML and CSS are very straightforward, making the leap into coding a natural progression for anyone that already speaks English. If you’re an aspiring coder, this is a great place to start because you’ll learn many of the “tools of the trade” like text editors and online help forums, while working with code like <table> and <header> that are intuitive enough that you won’t get overwhelmed.
I want to offer another perspective though. Working over the basics again and again helps to solidify them, and doing them in more than one language can be helpful. Of course, spreading yourself TOO thin or trying to learn TOO many at once will be really confusing, but when you start to get stuck or frustrated, find something new and exciting that makes the learning fun and interesting again. It’ll start you back at the beginning with concepts that are familiar, and it’ll give you a chance to practice those basic concepts a few more times, really solidifying the foundation for you. You might find that you even fill in a few holes in your foundation or gaps in your knowledge.
Keep that mental fire fueled with new material, and you’ll find yourself spending more hours reading and typing and trying things, and it’s all valuable learning. That curiosity in dabbling helps keep the brain engaged in the process, and in the long run, even if you don’t end up sticking with some of the things you dabbled in, it IS valuable to have a sorta-understanding of how they work so that you can see how they’d fit into future projects you work on, whether someone else on the team does that part, or you see an opportunity to better solve a problem by implementing a new framework.
This is the joy of coding!
There is always more to learn, new techniques to discover, and multiple ways of doing the same thing. When something ignites that part of your brain that is really, deeply curious, insatiably mesmerized by the possibilities, intrigued to discover the inner workings of a language or framework, here you’ll find the energy to fuel countless hours of learning, of pushing through the hard parts and making mental leaps. Here you’ll discover why so many others have found such a passion for coding. And the more you learn, the easier it becomes to learn more.
So dabble, explore, and ask questions. Watch a tutorial on this and that, and let your mind be teased by things you don’t understand. You don’t have to get it all at first, you just have to get used to not getting it all, because that part never changes! There is always more to learn, and the eager mind will be entertained for years, so go ahead and develop that right along with your coding skills. Find the part that really excites you, that makes you want to understand how it works, and then dive in. Maybe it’ll be the longer road towards “mastery” (how do you define that anyways?), but maybe not, maybe you’ll develop a more complete understanding of how all the languages and frameworks work together and that’s what lets you really “get it” in the end. And maybe there is no end, and it’s merely all about enjoying the journey….