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    The Things I Wish I Knew Before Code School Back to blog

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    The jump from passively enjoying the internet to actively creating the internet is an intimidating one. Just nine months ago I was struggling through HTML and JavaScript and trying to wrap my head around concepts like variables and logic loops. However, it’s really not so bad if you are patient with yourself and take the time to learn the basics. If you decide to jump into the world of web development, here are a few really basic things that any programmer worth their salt will tell you.

    Break down the big stuff

    Start small. If you look at the project as a whole, it is easy to get overwhelmed. Taking the time to break down your big project into smaller pieces (and then breaking those pieces into smaller pieces, and then breaking those pieces even smaller) really helps when it comes to starting a project. You can tackle each problem one at a time and eventually you will be able to glue those parts together to create your final end product.

    Stay organized and comment everything

    It is super simple to read a short, human comment rather than working through logic, which is why I label everything in my code. I have found that popping a label that is not indented above a block of code really helps when you need to skim through your program to find a specific function. In that same vein, you want to make sure your function and variable names are equally descriptive. When you are ready to deploy your code, you can minify it and suck out all those comments, but while you are developing, knowing where you are is crucial.

    Programming languages are all the same

    Ok. Maybe that’s not true. But a majority of programming languages are based on the same basic principles. Every language has variables. Every language has comparison operators. Every language has a way to make your idea into an executable program. Learning a new programming language sounds super intimidating, but it is just a matter of learning a new syntax, along with a few structural differences. Once you have toyed around with a few different ones, you’ll find that programming languages share far more similarities than differences.

    You won’t know everything…

    On a similar note, you will want to get comfortable with the unknown. It is perfectly fine, and quite likely, to be unfamiliar with how something is built. If you take the time and break a problem down, however, you can certainly work through it. There will always be some new programming fad out there—some hot JavaScript framework or a popular way to design something. It’s tempting to jump on the hype train and spend your time learning what is popular, but as a beginner it is more important to develop a foundation in a single language or select few languages—once you are comfortable with that, you can use that knowledge to play around with popular frameworks relatively easily.

    …But you will always be learning

    Before I knew anything about programming, I thought I could learn all I needed to know about JavaScript in a few months. Ha! The truth is that JavaScript, as with any other programming language, is deep and always changing. Every day I’m learning something new, which makes my job feel fresh and personally fulfilling. It’s a chance to discover and explore how to creatively solve a problem. You may also find that something you wrote a month ago—or even a week ago—could be better solved using a new method. Becoming a programmer is a commitment to growth and your code will act as a timeline that documents that journey.

    I have only been programming for a few months, going from toying around with HTML in CodePen to slamming my head against the keyboard in frustration to finally deploying full websites. I have learned a lot about the building blocks that make up the internet, but perhaps what is most exciting is that there is so much more to know!

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    By
    Ike Mattice
    Web Designer

    By
    Ike Mattice
    Web Designer