Coding is all in the details, which is why you need to “celebrate small victories,” as one of our programming professors put it. It takes practice to make each element work on its own, as well as constant testing to ensure each line of code will work with all the rest—without errors. If you don’t do seemingly minor things right like closing a HTML tag, you’d be stuck debugging a simple syntax error rather than writing more impressive and complex code.
As a self-taught programmer, you might also benefit from books that offer broader advice on the profession. You’ll improve your thinking and habits, traits you can apply to any language you decide to learn. Steve McConnell’s 900-page Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction (2nd Edition) is considered the definitive guide for best practices, with data-backed advice on everything from project design to debugging code.
On the other hand, if you’re a mid-career professional looking to transition into a tech career, a short-term coding bootcamp might make more sense than going into debt for a second degree. If all you want to do is build websites or push your Raspberry Pi to its limits, a combination of interactive tutorials and free online courses might be enough to get you going.
Do you have a smarthome device like the Amazon Echo? You can put your coding skills to the test by creating customized mini-programs to get more functionality out of your devices’ digital assistants. Amazon’s Alexa may already know many basic voice-command “skills,” like reading the latest news headlines, but you can teach her more complicated tasks by coding in Node.js, Java, Python, C#, or Go. (Or, if you want to start with something easier, try the simpler Alexa skill blueprints site.)
Whether you’re an adult looking to transition into the tech industry, a student looking to learn the latest language, or a hobbyist who just wants to understand how software and services work, all you need is a computer and internet access to start your programming journey. But before you take a flying leap into The Matrix, here are our best tips and resources to set you off on the right foot.