10 Frustrating Things To Avoid While Learning To Code
Tameera Corporal, Author
CEO, Accufigures, Inc
“I love to show others how to get the results they need to grow their business.
I was just like you when I decided to learn how to write code. Excited, nervous, ready to dig in, picturing myself living in a mansion with a yacht after I sold one of my builds to a tech giant, in less than a year. I mean, after all, that’s what we read about right? I was also so disillusioned I actually thought I would only need to learn ONE software program. According to my research, it would only take a few months of late nights and early mornings to pick this coding thing up. Well… needless to say, I quickly learned that this is not the case. There are rules for getting through this after the boot camp euphoria wears off, and I hit every proverbial step on the way down. I wrote this post so you can avoid my mistakes.
1. Buckle up. This is nothing like you expected.
2. Attention to detail will save your sanity.
During your journey you will spend at least 4 hours looking for either a semi-colon, comma or both. It will be rough and you will be doubting your ability to comprehend anything in life. But this exercise is imperative in expanding your skills. Over time, you will be able to recognize certain errors and fix them immediately. Hang in there! We’ve all been there, and it gets easier with time and as your skills develop. TRUST ME ON THIS ONE.
3. Can’t stop, won’t stop-studying that is.
Programming comes easy to some people, but for those of us mere mortals, it takes some time to retrain your brain to understand what all of that punctuation is about. This is the time to read as much code as possible and familiarize yourself with the output. The syntax will be different depending on which language you are using, but the important thing is understanding what each line of code means. Once you understand what the code is doing, the syntax won’t throw you for a loop when you see it for the first time.
4. Google searches are a double edged sword.
When you are looking for answers to your broken code, don’t just copy and paste what you see working for someone else. In my experience, this practice can introduce new bugs in the app. In addition, it does not help you get any better at coding. Take the time to ensure you understand the code. You will never level up at your craft by simply copying and pasting the answer. You actually learn from the struggle of figuring it out yourself. THE STRUGGLE IS REAL, BUT YOU WILL GET THROUGH THIS!
5. Coding Boot Camp Etiquette 101
When you are going through your boot camp, actively take notes in addition to going through the exercises. The best way to retain what you are learning is by writing it down in your own words. This also provides a great refresher document to review before you tackle an app on your own.
6. The documentation is a guide.
The documentation just seems like a bunch of words initially because it won’t make any sense to you. Read it anyway, study the code, and every time you use that API or install that NPM or whatever you are doing, read the documentation again. As you repeat the exercise, you will notice you are understanding more of the code each time. This is also EXTREMELY HELPFUL after the first hour of trying to find an error in your code.
7. Google Webmaster Tools are your friend.
When I started this journey, the only time I used the Google Web Developer Tools was to verify that my app wasn’t throwing any errors in the console. Honestly, I had no idea how powerful this tool was or how much it could help me with debugging. It’s also great to use when you are tidying up your website’s appearance.
8. Reading is required.
Attending the boot camp alone will give you a sturdy foundation of expertise in the featured programming language. All boot camps have you building apps with code at an intermediate level, which is what you need to qualify for a job in this industry. However, there are levels to the quality of apps that you are going to build during this training. Some boot camps have you create a basic app that will need more work to be considered professional. Others leave you wondering what just happened. Then you have the top tier camps that help you build an awesome portfolio and guarantee employment. In the breakdown above, I am speaking purely of quality, not price, so do your research when you are choosing which boot camp to attend.
Now that you are a boot camp graduate, you have to keep your skills razor sharp! However, to remain at this level and progress to the next, reading books that focus on your programming language is required. In addition, I suggest you complete external exercises, and CODE DAILY.
9. Yes it’s going to take all night, be patient.
You have to code every day. Even if it’s just for an hour. This is the only way you are going to become better at it. Once you are able to read the code, you are halfway there. Some boot camps provide a hand holding approach to learning. This is great to advance you to a proficient level, but in my experience, you are on your own when either your code breaks, or you decide to build your own app.
Sometimes, the code featured in a boot camp is broken because it hasn’t been updated in a while. When you are new, this will cause unnecessary frustration and doubt in your abilities. In addition, you may not have a completed app when you’ve finished the boot camp. In some cases, the app is extremely basic and lacking a robust user experience. THIS IS NOT BAD FOR BUSINESS! This is the opportunity for you to add your own customized spin on the basic app and enrich your learning experience in the process.
10. Stack Overflow lesson learned-from lurking (of course).
Stack Overflow is the resource you should check first when your code is misbehaving. However, if you ask a question, it can quickly turn hostile if it has been answered previously. This website is used by developers to establish their programming/developing cred. Some developers spend hours a day combing through these questions to find the right ones to answer and build up their reputation score. My suggestion here is to ask the question in different ways before you post to this forum. If the question has been asked before, it will be marked as a duplicate and in some cases will not be answered.
These are the top 10 tips I wish I had before I dived in, head first, on my coding journey. Do you have anything to add to this list? Let me know in the comments!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Currently, she is actively working on building her web development and micro-training firm, Accufigures, Inc., located in Tampa, FL. At Accufigures, we help small businesses turn their target audience into returning customers with customized website designs and graphics. Visit her online at bit.ly/accufigures for more information.
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My life experiences. Coding is hard, but the end result is worth the struggle.
This work by Tameera Corporal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.