Published on April 6th, 2018 | by Jelena D0
Tips For Learning Programming
I started college on summer 2001. On 2002 I took two programming courses, one focusing on Intel’s Assembly language and the other on the C programming language. Both were hard, intended only for engineering students and I didn’t learned how to program on neither of them but didn’t realized then. Around 2004 I took some microcontrollers courses and had contact with C again and used all what I had learned two years back on real world applications. That was when it appeared clear in front of my eyes: I didn’t knew how to program! From that day until now it’s been a long, bumpy road. It hasn’t been easy but sure it has been fun (kind of) and I can tell you, learning to program has made my world a better place.
If you are reading this you have decided learning to program too. I’ll give you some advice that hope will help you to (eventually) succeed.
1. Choosing the right language
Choosing the right programming language to begin with is the most important thing you’ll have to do! Ok… it realy isn’t. It doesn’t matter if you learn to program with C, Java or Python. What really matters is that you truly learn how to program and not just how to write programs (e.g. write code) with a given language. Writing code is easy, specially since you can just copy amp; paste code to solve just any problem from tons of forums and webpages all over the internet. What you need to do is choose a programming language and then learn the core computational concepts of programming.
That been said I think you should choose a language that’s easy to learn and there’s nothing easier than interpreted languages like Python and Ruby. For learning purposes I would recommend you staying away from compiled languages like C or C++, just because with interpreted languages you only need to install the interpreter and you are ready to go. Python might be the easiest programming language to learn, but another great language is Processing, wich is based on Java but it’s specially suited for beginners because it gives inmediate visual feedback. So, choosing the right language to begin with is important and that very language could easily be Processing.
2. Committing yourself to learning
Learning to program isn’t something that just happens. You’ll have to work hard in order to do so and work hard here means putting lots of hours here. If you are taking a course on programming chances are you already have a schedule and some time assigned to all the learning process. On the other hand if you are learning on your own you’ll have to force you to keep a schedule. Maybe you don’t have plenty of free time but you’ll have to assign at least one hour a day. You need to be constant. It doesn’t matters if it gets too hard or maybe too boring, you have to keep going or you’ll never succeed.
3. Getting good guidance
If you are taking a course maybe you have one great teacher to help you on your way. Either way you should get a book (or books) and use it to guide you on your way. There are plenty of great books that will make of you a programmer. Following the idea of using a non-compiled, interpreted language I can tell you to get, depending of your chosen language, one of the following books: “Learning Processing” by David Schiffman, “Dive into Python” by Mark Pilgrim and “Learn to Program” by Chris Pine. The later one focusing on Ruby. “Learning Processing” and “Learn to Program” are the very best programming books I’ve ever read as they successfully give the reader key concepts needed to get a programmers mind. “Dive into Python” is also great and is the way to go if you want to learn Python.
4. Solving real world problems
As I recently read on Krzysztof Kowalczyk’s blog, the best way to learn a language is to use it in a small but real project, that is using it to solve real world problems. Most text books come full with examples that will let you apply all the concepts and principles of programming, let them be your first small projects. Also, you should try to write programs that help you on your daily basis, maybe you’ll end up with a program that do all your hard work at job giving you more free time to write some other programs.
To sum up to learn to program you need to work hard, stay focus on your goal and just practice a lot. Now just one final tip: it doesn’t matter wich programming language you start with, mastering one will make it easier for you to master another, just keep coding.