How I learnt to code

By John Mathews
Category: Learning
December 2020

4 years ago I started learning how to code, and it was really difficult! It’s still difficult, but I now have a collection of tools and perspectives that make it less daunting (more on that below). Leveling up requires one more abstraction to wrap my head around, or one more API to understand. I can do it.

But I don’t think it needed to be so difficult, so now I’m building Code School Meta to make it easier to learn how to code.

Learning to code has been fun, ultimately successful, and life changing (hello job security!) but at the beginning it was sooo slow, and super tricky.

I remember feeling like an imposter, and thinking that I was definitely not a real developer - I hadn’t taken any classes in computer science. I felt like I knew almost nothing about anything.

The process began with Pandas, a (the) Python analytics library. Spreadsheets were slowing me down at work, and I was bored. I found this great tutorial by Brandon Rhodes. From there I found out about Jupyter Notebooks, and then I found about Github pages and how to make a blog using pelican.

That led to HTML and CSS (and also JavaScript, which I tried very hard to avoid for as long as possible). I felt like a monkey bashing a keyboard as I tried to make HTML elements do what I wanted.

Git was next, but I found this amazing tutorial to help me learn. It made Git seem OK, and also helped HTML and CSS make more sense too. Bonus!

I suddenly realized that great learning materials are crucial if I was going to keep momentum and keep on enjoying the thrill of seeing the computer do something I hadn’t made it do before.

So now I’m now working on Code School: Meta. It’s an online community to make it easier to teach yourself how to code - less confusion about how to get started or what to learn next, more encouragement, and lots of high quality resources.

If you’d like to know more, please check it out and sign up for updates.