Learning code in the younger years

As someone who started programming when he was just 12 years old, I’m well-known with the trouble of combining school and learning code without compromising either of the two.

All my life I saw how my father, who is a very experienced sysadmin and has worked at some of the greatest tech companies in the countries, was always busy with coding and all his crazy hacking skills. I was always curious to try and understand what he was doing, but I never really knew where to start. So in the summer of 2012, just after I turned 12 myself, I got into Batch-scripting as it was easy and not all too complicated to understand. Later on my father introduced me to Visual Basic Scripting (VBS) and gave me a little assignment. He asked me to create a simple script that would allow you to take little notes that would be written to a text file, there were a few demands of what it would write to the text file. First of all, every day the script was executed it would write the date first before anything else, but to prevent spamming the text file, I needed to make it check the file if the date was already in there. I also needed to add the time in hh:mm:ss format to know when the note was written to the file. Last, I needed to make sure the script would not close after writing to the file, as it was a simple input pop-up.

Just two or three days after messing with VBS, I discovered Visual Studio, a comprehensive collection of developer tools and services to help you create apps for the Microsoft platform and beyond (as said by Microsoft itself). I created multiple little applications, even a little game. I learned new languages besides Visual Basic .NET, like C#, Java, and a little C++.

Even though I learned a lot in a short period, school would start soon enough, the summer vacation would soon be over, preventing me from spending more time on coding. So I needed to come up with a way to do both, without compromising either of the two. I decided to make sure that every day I would leave my laptop turned off until I finished my schoolwork for the next two days. After that, I could spend some time on my code and expand my knowledge.

My classmates soon noticed my new learned skill. They asked me to create little bits of code for them and, as I really liked to code, I did it with ease. I soon got the question as to why I never published any of my code online, even though I never really thought about it I decided to use a domain my father had bought a few years back, http://guuslieben.nl/. I started with some basic stuff like creating shapes and styling some text. Not really understanding too much of it just yet I was pretty proud by creating a button that would show/hide some text.

After I proudly showed my father what I created with it he gave me two books, HTML for Dummies and CSS Pocket Reference by Eric A. Meyer. It took a while for me to read both books, but it sure was worth every minute I spent on them. I got a better understanding of front-end development. I tried out some of the code from the books and after some time, tried to write something more advanced from scratch.

After messing with my own website for about a year, I found out about Codepen.io, a playground for the front end web. At first, I didn’t publish anything yet, instead I forked some of the code on the website and tried to understand. I mainly wanted to learn JavaScript (JS) as I never really got into that, and even though I still have a lot to improve on the side of JavaScript, I learned a lot once again. I started publishing my work on my website, which I had built with the knowledge I had learned on CodePen.

In 2014, 2.5 years after I started to discover programming, I started a little company on my own.. Xendox. I kept it small, as I am still in school and can’t spend the majority of my time coding. I did some translation work and of course some front-end magic under this new name, I created a website using Wordpress, and overall just had a lot of fun. A few months later, in the summer of 2015, I rebuilt Xendox’ website completely from scratch. Using purely HTML, Sass and a little PHP.

In September 2015, I started to publish my personal work on CodePen, the first pen appearing on September 5th. I kept up with my coding work as much as I did with my school work, although, as I got into my Exam years, I had little to no time left to code. So my programming time had moved to the vacations and holidays, leaving me little time to really enjoy the work for a longer time. After better planning I got more time available to code, and I did some more freelance work.

Now, in June 2016, with the summer vacation nearing, I have been able to combine school and coding perfectly. I still enjoy coding as much as I did when I started in 2012, I’m still discovering lots of crazy and amazing stuff allover the web.

— Guus Lieben

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.