Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A note from my older self: How to get started with coding

A lot of times I sit around thinking about how I could have gotten to where I am now, faster in my life. There were many times where I would be stuck for years, not able to figure out my next step. One of those steps was learning how to code.

Now, for a 14 year old to get started with C++ without so much as a basic understanding of ANYTHING, I can see how I was restricted. I would do things in HTML, back when it was very flat and nowhere near as dynamic as it is now.

I had a book named Learn C++ in 30 days. And the one thing that this book failed at, was setting up. So many self help books seemed to just assume that the person would know how to set it up, or how to figure it out. And at such a young age, with no experience or tutor or mentor, or anything. And with the internet at such an infant stage of information sharing, I simply couldn't find the answers I needed.

These books were supposed to teach me, and they failed to even get me started! Print "Hello World" is a horrible start. I don't want to print a message. I want to know how to even start. You can't tell me to print "Hello World" and run that. Because I had no idea how to run it! You need to go back SEVERAL steps before I can print "Hello World"!

But... at 14 I had access to a teacher in my high school. He taught Computer Math, and he was the school's "tech guy". They called him in to look at the servers and what not. I think anybody who has had that experience, of being grudgingly needed but otherwise avoided, will understand the position this man was in.

My lesson to my older self: Ask for help from your teacher. You WANT to learn, so make time. Ask for time, and seek it out.

Now, this was over 15 years ago. I think kids today have a much easier entry way into coding. So if you want to do it. Reach out there and grab your opportunity. Coding is actually easy. The difficulty of it, comes from creatively understanding and developing the solutions to get the results you desire.

Coding is an extremely creative process, that requires years of experience to accomplish through "feel" alone. As it stands, I have to sit and plan out more complex thoughts, on paper before I commit it to code. Creating diagrams, and logic trees to make sure that what I'm trying to accomplish makes sense.