How to learn to code

Tim Fogarty
Aug 29, 2017 · 3 min read

So you want to learn to code? Awesome! Coding is a lot of fun. I like coding because it’s very creative. You get to build cool things, solve interesting puzzles, and share what you make with other people.

Here are some questions you might have starting to code:

Is it difficult?

Well… yes and no. Anybody can learn to code but sometimes it can be challenging. Thankfully there are a lot of online tutorials which will teach you step by step. They’ll take you from knowing nothing all the way to building cool projects.

When I started coding, I didn’t understand everything I read. Some advanced topics can be tough for beginners — but don’t get disheartened if you don’t fully get something. You’ll learn about it eventually. Take small steps, learn piece by piece, and you’ll be a code genius before you know it.

What programming language should I learn first?

Starting coding can super overwhelming. There are so many programming languages. Which one is right? Which one is the best? Which one does the most stuff? Which one will set me up for success?

It honestly does not matter which language you start with! Not one bit. Programming languages are generally all very similar. The fundamentals of programming can be learned with any language and it’s easy to pick up new languages after your first.

My advice: Try starting with JavaScript or Python. Both can be used for making websites and games. They’re fairly simple to start with. But if you really want to build something specific, here are some suggestions for languages which are often used for specific purposes:

  • Websites: HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Python
  • iPhone Apps: Swift
  • Android Apps: Java
  • Games: You can start making some basic 2D games with Python, Then you might want to learn C# (C-Sharp) or C++
  • Hardware (like robots): C++ and make sure to check out Arduinos!

Where can I learn?

Here are some cool websites that you can use to get started coding:

  • CodeCombat: An awesome way to learn coding by playing a game.
  • Khan Academy: Learn how to make games and websites.
  • Treehouse: Learn how to make iPhone apps, Android apps, or websites.
  • Codecademy: Learn how to make websites.
  • CodinGame: Hone your skills by solving puzzles in games.

You might consider coming to a hackathon. Hackathons are a great place to learn practical coding skills. You can find hackathons on the MLH website. Want to know what a hackathon is like? Read this!

Can I ask for help?

When I started coding, I was really worried about looking stupid to experienced coders. But it’s okay to ask for help. Even the most experienced coders still have to Google the basics:

Find a community who can help you learn. This might be a facebook group, a subreddit for the language you’re learning, or a school club. StackOverflow is a popular site for asking programming questions. Make sure to ask for help if you need it.

Good luck!

Learning to code can be intimidating. But it can be fun and deeply rewarding. Give it a go and enjoy it!


Tim Fogarty’s blog

Tim Fogarty

Written by

Developer Advocate at MongoDB, Previously DevRel at mLab, Commissioner at Major League Hacking. I like to code things.



Tim Fogarty’s blog

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