Description: This article explains how to take your first steps in coding without getting afraid. We will learn about the basics to get started with Java.
It is 2021 and coding is still a highly demanded skill. Whether it is for educational purposes, launching a career or stepping up a job post it will set you on an upward trajectory. So without further ado, let’s see how we can start learning to code.
Determine your Goal
That’s my favourite tip and possibly the most fundamental one. Yes, we know you want to begin to code. But are you clear on your “whys”? Be it a college assignment, a freelancing project, a side hustle or a full-time career option. You need to define your end goal precisely before committing to it. It is emphasised so much because while learning to code you’re going to face tonnes of challenges. You will encounter bugs, exceptions and the program will crash. In the beginning, all of this can be frustrating and exhausting. The truth is, we struggle because we go through a steep learning curve. If you are not determined enough to achieve your goal, you can not be a good problem solver.
To be consistent and motivated, you need to be able to visualize your goals vividly.
Breakdown it into Milestones
After you know what difficulty level you want to achieve, it is good to divide it into smaller doable chunks. For example, if you want to excel at Data Structures and Algorithms you first need to go through the Programming Fundamentals and Object-Oriented Programming. Programming Fundamentals can be further classified into variables, data types, loops and methods etc.
If you are an absolute beginner and don’t even know how to break down it into milestones then it is recommended to follow along with any credible online resource.
Achieve your first Milestone
Now when you have defined clear milestones begin with the very first one. Traditionally, it is data types and variables. Make it a universal rule of learning to code, that you will not proceed to more advanced concepts without accomplishing the previous milestone. Spend as much time as you want and practise as many times as it takes for you to be clear on what you’re doing and how to do it. The key to achieving your first milestone is nothing but to practise, practise and just practise!
If you don’t know what to practise then you can do java coding practice on CodeGym. This course has already created an outline structure to follow for beginners. Simply log in and start accomplishing your milestones.
Have you Validated the Results?
Once you are done with the first milestone it is necessary to validate your progress. One can never be sure of the progress unless you validate you do understand each lesson. Test yourself to validate whether you have achieved the latest milestone. If you are not sure how to do that, tests are available on CodeGym.
Do Not Be Afraid of Bugs!
One of the biggest blockers for beginners are bugs. Initially, it is completely normal to have tonnes of syntax errors that will not let your program run correctly. At the end of the day when you want to quit, you find a semicolon missing that caused your angst. Yeah, we all have been through it. The key, however, is to read the compiler notes (usually at the bottom of the screen). Many beginners don’t focus on the compiler notifications and end up wasting their time.
For example, in the figure above, a semicolon (;) is missing in the code at line number 8. You can add it to fix the error.
Move Forward with your Milestones
Accomplishing the first milestone can be rewarding but the key is to be consistent. The requirement to reach your destination requires you to achieve every single milestone, step by step. Don’t rush. Take your due time. It is OK to take breaks and get breathers. The goal is to master the concepts of coding and to enhance your productivity. Another tip to feel more rewarded is to make a checklist of your milestones and cross each line once you get done with it. Measuring your progress and celebrating your achievements will help you to keep going
Build a Firm Conceptual Foundation
“A great developer is the one who is fluent at fundamentals.”
Make it a motto of your life for the rest of your programming journey:
- Master Programming Fundamentals [variables, data types, loops and methods etc],
- Object-Oriented Programming [ objects, classes, encapsulation, polymorphism etc],
- Data Structures and Algorithms [ Linked Lists, Trees, Optimization Algorithms etc ].
A firm foundation makes learning a new language or upgrading a tech stack a lot simpler. In programming, the ultimate goal is to be the best problem solver. Languages are mere tools to translate your algorithm into the problem-specific environment. Hence, your goal should be excelling at concepts and not just tools.
Challenge yourself by Solving New Problems!
A great problem solver welcomes new challenges every day. If you ever think you’re good with a concept/data structure start solving an unsolved problem. That’s how you will realize how good you are at it. Let’s say you get done with Programming Fundamentals. The next thing you should do is to create a tic tac toe. Then you should advance it further to pong, chess or a stock control system. Ignore the GUI (graphical user interface) since that is not the goal at that point. You have to test your fundamental programming skills. The day you are not scared of the new problems, that day you will be an actual problem solver.
That was a quick “How to Code for Beginners”. Are you ready to set on this exciting journey? Get in the line if that’s a yes. Grab this guide and follow along for a hopefully smoother journey. Till then keep learning and keep practising!
CodeGym is an interactive educational platform where people can learn Java programming from scratch to Java Junior level. Main features are lots of practice with instant solution verification and gamification.
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