How do I start writing code?

There are so many programming languages to choose from, choosing the right one to start learning can be a daunting proposition.

Alex Potter
Alex Potter Technical Lead

There are so many programming languages to choose from, choosing the right one to start learning can be a daunting proposition. As I’ve mentioned, the real benefit of writing code is the way it forces you to solve problems and think differently—the language you’re writing in is mostly irrelevant. So, here are our top tips for starting to write code, and some helpful resources to use.

Learn by doing

While books are a great way to expand your programming knowledge, to get started you really need to get your hands dirty and do some actual coding yourself.
There are some brilliant online tools out there that let you write code and get instant feedback on what you’ve written. One of the most popular (with good reason) is Codecademy, which we’ve seen a lot of applicants use to catch “the coding bug”. freeCodeCamp is similar to Codecademy, but goes on to some more advanced concepts.

Follow a course — and don’t skip the basics

As tempting as it may seem, don’t skip the first few lessons in a course. If you do already know the content they will only take a short time, but they might just uncover holes in your knowledge that could result in frustrations further down the line.

It doesn’t matter what language

Codeacademy has courses in HTML & CSS, the basic building blocks for web pages, as well as programming languages like Python, JavaScript, Java and more.
It doesn’t really matter which of these you choose—they are all beginner friendly so pick whatever takes your fancy. If you are interested in web development, the best thing to do is to learn a bit of HTML & CSS followed by some JavaScript. On the other hand, if you’d like to learn programming concepts (such as the control loops mentioned above), write algorithms, or build more dynamic websites, then Python or Java might be a better fit.
Once you’ve learnt the basics, there are lots more resources on the web to dig deeper into particular areas, depending on your interests (and/or needs). For example:

  • If you’re interested in mobile app development, the resources you’ll need are generally platform specific:
    • For Android specific apps, it’s worth starting out with the official documentation from Google
    • For iOS apps, the tools you’ll need to get started with are Swift development resources from Apple
    • If you’re thinking of looking at cross platform apps, we’d recommend using React Native which uses Facebook’s React framework to develop apps which can be built to point at multiple platforms
  • React is also a very popular platform for building websites and web apps. It’s pretty cutting edge, and it’s something that we use fairly frequently, so if you’re interested in building dynamic user interfaces, it’s a good one to explore
  • For Data Science – Coursera or Khan Academy are probably your best bet

Use your skills to solve problems

As we’ve discussed above, programming is all about problem solving so look for problems you can solve with your new found programming skills. Maybe you are a member of a society or sports team who could do with a new website? Or you’ve got a scientific problem as part of your studies that you could write a program to solve? You could even set yourself a challenge just for fun, such as a Sudoku solver or try the Project Euler maths problems.
Whatever it may be, solving real life problems is what we do every day for our clients and we love to see examples of our applicants getting a head start on this.

Alex Potter
Alex Potter
Technical Lead

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