8 Ways Anyone Can Learn To Code Their Own Software

There’s a lot of talk about hardware, devices, and tools for the classroom. But if we learned anything from yesterday’s WWDC Apple keynote, it’s that software is king. It’s what makes or breaks a new product or device. Gone are the days of hardware-first, software-second such as when phones with color screens were viewed as revolutionary.

Those days are gone. Now, customers want / demand the highest quality software all the time. And as we move all our important data into the proverbial cloud, the quality of that software is all the more important.

Get Your Code On

So instead of sitting back and waiting for Apple or Google to churn out the software we want, why not learn how to build it yourself? Even if you’re totally new to coding or words like ‘development’ scare you, fear not. There are now a ton of great online learning platforms that can help you get your code on.

So whether you think you don’t need to learn how to code or just want to dip your toes into the pool, read on.

Below are just a few of an increasingly crowded marketplace. If you have a favorite online learning platform that offers the ability to learn about software development, leave a comment below or on the Edudemic Facebook page so the rest of the community can learn from you.

Patience Is A Virtue

Important note: coding takes time. A lot of time. In order to actually develop something like Angry Birds, you need to devote yourself to coding and becoming a top-notch developer. That being said, coding is not impossible. It’s downright fun to be able to craft something that instantly just works (or doesn’t, for that matter). The following tools are ranked in order of difficulty, so feel free to start at the top and work your way down.

W3Schools

Skill Level: Beginner

If you’re new to coding (I’m talking about ‘no idea what code is’ kinda new) then this is THE place for you. W3Schools is a terrific (free) repository of definitions, usage, and examples. For example, if you’re learning JavaScript, check out this robust page. As a blogger / website guy, I often run into problems with coding and other web-related goodies. More often than not, I end up looking up some basic information at W3Schools that sets me straight. Curious why an image isn’t aligning properly? Want to know how to make your background static? W3Schools is the place to head. Honestly, even if you do a Google search for something related to code… you’ll end up here anyway. That’s a good sign.

In my experience, W3Schools has some of the best-organized guides to using the popular coding languages of today. I use it for CSS, JavaScript, and HTML basics. Most websites run on these 3 things anyway so if you can master all or most of them… you’ll be a web ninja in no time!

Codecademy

Skill Level: Intermediate

This free service is extremely useful to anyone with a moderate level of coding ability. I’ve used it to learn JavaScript and have been able to actually employ what I’ve learned into the code of Edudemic. One of the most novel parts about Codecademy is how you begin your lesson. It happens immediately. When you visit the site, it has a command console that greets you and lets you try your hand at coding. Very basic stuff but it truly gets you hooked.

Once you go through a few command prompts, you can start working on the multi-line goodness. That’s when you can take a dive into JavaScript, CSS, HTML, you name it. It’s an intuitive system that should be your first stop to becoming a software master.

However, an important note about Codecademy: it helps if you have some very basic understanding of how coding and software work. If you’ve never even seen a line of code before, then don’t immediately jump into Codecademy. Instead, take the time to review some of the earlier options mentioned above.

Code School

Skill Level: Intermediate – Advanced

Like Codecademy, Code School is a robust platform that helps you learn intermediate to advanced coding techniques. From JavaScript to Rails, it’s an interactive environment that lets you test out your work, watch video presentations, and interact with the community. It feels a bit more ‘premium’ than Codecademy but that’s probably because of $25/mo price. It also may be because the ability to watch videos and learn some of the most advanced techniques is really helpful and hard to find online.

I’d say Code School is for those who have already mastered the first two listings above. If you’ve got the definitions down from W3Schools and mastered most of Codecademy’s lessons, then give Code School a try. Definitely don’t do it in a different order as you’ll quickly find yourself in over your head.

 Google Blockly

Skill Level: Intermediate – Advanced

A little known but helpful tool, Google Blockly is for people who want to test out some of their coding chops without having to, well, type. If you’re suffering from carpal tunnel, then listen up. Blockly is a simple-yet-robust tool that lets you drag and drop commands to create a string. Better still, you get a nifty animation that makes it clear what your code actual does in real time. Love that.

This is not for beginners though. It may look simple but you can quickly get in over your head should you find yourself trying to create some lengthy strings of code. That being said, there are some relatively basic skills you can learn using Google Blockly. Head over to this maze page and try your hand at some if / then functions. It’s quite fun and can become quite addicting!

More Advanced Tools

Skill Level: Advanced

Looking to take on more advanced techniques and scripts? Check out the following resources for everything you’ll need.

  • GLSL Studio is an iPad app that makes it easy for you to learn and code games right on your iPad.
  • Stack Overflow is a helpful repository that’s great for answering more advanced questions.
  • TryRuby.org is an intermediate – advanced tool that helps you learn the programming language Ruby. Useful for developing mobile tools and other web 2.0 products!
  • Learn88 uses personal tutors to help you learn HTML, CSS, jQuery, Ajax, PHP, MySQL, OOP, MVC framework, cloud server, scrum, and more.
  • Udacity has a treasure trove of helpful classes and not all are for advanced users.

3 Comments

  1. William Turkel

    August 12, 2012 at 8:05 am

    Historians and other humanists might also be interested in the Programming Historian 2, a site which introduces programming techniques that can be used for research and teaching. We also do peer reviewing and publication of new contributions from our growing community.

  2. saad ahmed

    August 22, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    i think codecademy is the best here cos there lessons are fun and it doesnt takes a penny

  3. John Keyser

    August 28, 2012 at 7:50 am

    Another great coding resource is “YouTube”. I’ve been able to find help on a number of my projects making this multifaceted site a favorite for me.