First things first. Before we talk about how to get started with programming, we need to understand what programming is. Put simply, programming is the art of telling a computer to do stuff. Just like humans use language to communicate, computers have their own language. Programming is speaking this language.
We’ll go over a concrete description later on but for now, think of a computer as a really dumb machine that only does what we tell it to do. Learning how to program is learning how to tell the computer what to do. At this point, we may also need to define what a computer is. It’s not just your laptop or phone. Any electronic device that can accept some form of input, process it, and produce some type of output can be considered a computer.
Who this series is for
This series is for people interested in getting into the tech industry by learning how to program. This series is primarily aimed at people who want to get into programming to make web or mobile applications or video games.
Regardless of what path you choose, this series will prove invaluable to anyone who is completely new to programming and is looking for a way to get into it. You do not need to have ever studied computer science or programming elsewhere to follow along.
What we will be covering
This series will primarily be covering programming fundamentals. That is, the things you need to know before you even get into any type of programming. Rather than diving straight into building stuff, the aim is to first understand how things work. The good thing about this is that it assumes that you know nothing about programming and walks you through the often overlooked basics.
Once you have mastered these basics and the overall structure of how things work, it will be a lot easier for you to pick up any type of programming whether that is game development, software development, or mobile apps.
The complete course outline for this series can be found here.
Why learn programming?
There are several reasons why you may want to learn how to program, some of them are:
Learning how to program builds out your ability to think logically. This ends up giving you a different outlook on life where certain outcomes can be deduced logically. It also helps you find more problems around you which in turn helps you build stuff that actually helps people. Think about it, every successful tech company has built something that has had a measurable impact on people by solving a problem.
- Facebook is solving connecting with the people we care about.
- Twitter is helping us get information as things happen.
- Uber is solving transport convenience.
- AirBnB is solving accommodation
- Pinterest helps keep our interests organized.
And the list goes on.
Make better decisions
By improving your ability to think logically, learning how to program also helps you make better decisions in life. Instead of instinctively acting out of emotion, you may be compelled to find logical reasons for acting. In general, this leads to better outcomes.
Build the future
The future is built by innovators. Programming lets you build awesome things. Where else would you be able to build something out of nothing? You can be seated in your bedroom and build the next big thing with nothing but a computer and your brains.
Programming lets you build stuff that can generate passive income for you. That is income that is made without you having to trade your time for it. It is also an in-demand skill that pays quite well and there is no shortage of programming jobs.
The best way to learn programming
Here’s the short answer: the best way to learn to program is by actual programming. However, before you click off the article, I’d like to provide a more structured approach to learning how to program/code.
The best way to learn to program is to learn the fundamentals first, pick a path, choose a project then practice. Once you have learned the basics, you will most likely move into watching tutorials and reading articles on your topic of interest. I will also be sharing resources that you can use to learn each of the different types of programming.
In a nutshell, to make the most of your programming journey, these are the steps you will need to take:
- Learn the fundamentals of programming
- Pick a path – There are several paths you can choose from, the most popular ones being:
- Web development – Build web applications eg. AirBnB, Twitter, Facebook
- Game development – Build games eg. Fortnite
- Mobile development – Build mobile apps for IoS & Android
- Learn the fundamentals of your chosen path – how do web applications/games/mobile apps work?
- Learn a programming language – The language you learn will depend on the path you choose.
- Pick a project – Keep it simple at the start. This will build up your experience.
- Build & Practice
Remember, you do not need to know everything when you start. Once you have grasped the basics, you can learn things as you need them. The only thing you need to have a good base with is the basics. Understanding these will give you an idea of what you need to learn to build anything.
Practice makes perfect.
How long will it take?
It should come as no surprise that the answer to this is that it depends. Some of the factors that affect how fast you learn how to program are:
- Your dedication – how much time do you put into learning
- Your experiences – at this point most of us have interacted with something that was built by programmers, which means it is just a matter of time before you understand how everything fits together.
- Your approach – The fundamentals first approach suggested here is the fastest possible way of learning how to program that I know.
What do you need to get started with programming? That’s what this section is all about.
There’s good news and bad news. The good news is, you don’t need to know much. The bad news is you will need to put in the time to get real good at it. I guess that doesn’t really count, since that’s pretty much how everything in life is. The more you do it, the better you will get at it. That being said, here’s what you’ll need to know to follow this series:
- A willingness to learn
- How to use a computer – As long as you can type (doesn’t even have to be fast), you can do this
- How to use the internet – Throughout your journey, the internet will prove to be an invaluable resource to you. If you can Google something or watch Netflix, you’ve got this.
That’s pretty much it. You don’t need to know much to get started with programming.
The intention here is to get you up to speed and programming as fast as possible, skipping the unnecessary details for a beginner. This series is the culmination of what I would have liked to have when I started. I hope you enjoy it and find it insightful. With that, welcome onboard!