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Published Oct 19, 2023 ⦁ 6 min read
Programming for beginners: How to start coding even if you're a total newbie

Programming for beginners: How to start coding even if you're a total newbie

Introduction

Learning to code can seem daunting, especially if you have no prior programming experience. However, with the right guidance and practice, programming can be learned by virtually anyone. This post will provide total beginners with practical tips on how to start coding, even if you feel completely new to the world of programming. We'll cover choosing your first language, setting up your computer, and starting with simple coding projects. With an incremental and hands-on approach, you can gain the fundamental skills to begin coding regardless of your background. Platforms like Learn JavaScript offer interactive coding lessons that let complete newbies learn by doing, right in the browser.

Overcoming Initial Hurdles

When starting any new skill, self-doubt and uncertainty are common. You may think you're not smart enough or too old to learn coding. However, programming is a skill that can be learned through consistent practice and building up your skills incrementally. Many successful coders started later in life, coming from non-technical backgrounds. Angela Yu, founder of the App Brewery, started coding at age 31 and built a successful coding education company. Programming builds transferable problem-solving abilities that are valuable across many fields. Supportive online communities provide motivation when the learning gets tough. By believing in yourself and taking it step-by-step, anyone can start acquiring coding skills.

Choosing Your First Language

With popular beginner languages like Python, JavaScript, and Ruby, it can be difficult to choose your first language. Consider whether you're interested in front-end web development, back-end web programming, mobile apps, data science, or game development. JavaScript is a versatile language that can be used for both front-end and back-end development. It has a large community with abundant learning resources available. JavaScript powers dynamic web pages and web applications. Frameworks like React and Node.js have made it a leading full-stack language. Python is great for general purpose usage and data tasks, Ruby powers many startups, and JavaScript runs the web. The core foundations like variables, functions, objects, and loops transfer between languages. Try interactive courses from platforms like Learn JavaScript, Learn Python, and One Month Ruby to see which clicks. Compare the syntax and applications before committing. Learn JavaScript has free interactive coding lessons entirely online that introduce web development for total beginners.

Getting Set Up

Before you can start coding, you need to set up your computer with the necessary tools. Having a proper coding environment will make learning programming much easier. We'll cover recommendations for text editors, language/runtime installations, and GitHub accounts. Tips for desk setup, workspaces, music choices, and other environmental factors will also help you stay focused and motivated. With online code sandboxes like CodePen, JSFiddle, and Learn JavaScript's in-browser editor, you can skip setup and start coding instantly.

Installing Tools and Software

These are the key tools for setting up a beginner programming environment:

  • Text Editors: Download user-friendly text editors like Visual Studio Code or Atom for writing code. They provide helpful features like syntax highlighting, smart autocompletion, and built-in terminals.
  • Language Runtimes: Install language interpreters and runtimes like Node.js for JavaScript or Python's CPython. These allow your computer to execute the code.
  • Terminals: Most operating systems come with terminal apps like Windows Command Prompt or macOS Terminal. Consider enhanced terminals like iTerm2 (Mac) or Windows Terminal.
  • Browsers: Have Chrome, Firefox or both installed for web development. Enable development tools for debugging code.
  • OS Tools: For Mac, install Xcode to get developer tools. Windows users should enable the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) for Linux command line utilities.

Setting Up Your Workspace

A proper workspace setup will make you more effective when starting out:

  • Dedicated Desk: Have a consistent desk or work area without clutter.
  • Organized Resources: Keep reference books, notepads, and other learning materials within reach.
  • Environment: Ensure proper lighting and minimal noise. Consider focus music.
  • Equipment: Invest in a comfortable chair. Use external monitors and keyboards if possible.
  • Quick Fuels: Keep healthy snacks and water available for long study sessions.

Starting Simple

It's easy to get overwhelmed when starting to code. Focus on small, straightforward goals and projects first. Completing miniature milestones will build your confidence and skills incrementally. Rather than diving into complex tutorials, modify existing code to observe the results. Online communities offer beginner-friendly coding challenges to practice. Learn JavaScript provides interactive coding exercises with solutions that let total newbies learn by doing.

Baby Steps Toward Coding

  • Tweak CSS styling of websites through browser developer tools to grow comfortable.
  • Analyze source code of simple sites to understand structure and patterns.
  • Make tiny changes to JavaScript scripts or Python code then run to see outcomes.
  • Practice logic and syntax with coding challenges from Free Code Camp, Codecademy, and Reddit.
  • Work through Learn JavaScript's interactive exercises that provide guidance and code solutions.

Finding Your Motivation

It helps to find a specific coding project based on your interests to stay motivated as a beginner. Some ideas are:

  • Build a simple personal website or blog page.
  • Code a bot for Discord or Slack for fun.
  • Develop a basic 2D game with Unity and C#.
  • Create a mobile app prototype with React Native.
  • Join a structured course like Learn JavaScript with progressive lessons.

Celebrate small successes like getting a function to work. Find online communities and study groups for support and accountability. By sticking to simple goals first, you'll start cruising smoothly down the coding highway.

Conclusion

With the right mindset and learning approach, anyone can start coding, even total beginners. Choose a beginner-friendly language, install the necessary tools, and start small. Interactive courses like Learn JavaScript enable you to gain real coding experience through hands-on lessons and challenges. Set mini-milestones, find support communities, and leverage online resources. Before you know it, you'll be on your way to developing the skills and confidence of a capable programmer regardless of your background. The coding journey starts with a single step - now go take yours by checking out Learn JavaScript for interactive lessons!

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