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If you’re learning to code, start here

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By Sera Wong

There’s this new hip thing out on the street, and word is, it’s really useful and possible to learn on your own. This strange phenomenon is called programming, and since it can be confusing to figure out, especially where to start, I’ve made a small list for all of you suffering souls out there.

But first, what are you interested in creating?

Web apps/building a website: JavaScript, HTML, CSS
iOS apps: Swift
Android apps: Java, Kotlin
Automating tasks: Python
Statistics: R, Python
Making games: C++, Javascript

If you can’t decide which language to start with, Python is one of the easier languages to learn, and is also frequently used for a variety of tasks. You could always start there and expand your horizons.

Resources around campus:

  • The Digital Media Experience Lab at Ryerson has programming workshops almost daily where you can drop in, pick up some quick tips, and leave. Workshops are at varying times, held in SLC 308.
  • Ladies Learning Code has some neat one-day workshops on varying languages happening around Toronto. Some workshops are pay-what-you-can, while some are around $50. A lot of the courses are designed for beginners, so no worries if you’re just getting started.

Free online resources:

  • Bento: An easily navigated site with a collection of modules and programs from different resources. Choose from learning HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Python, and many, many more. For each language, If you make an account, you can track your progress with each module, and each module is separated into levels of difficulty. If you’re looking for a place to get started, this would be a good place to get a general grasp of the language you’re looking to learn.
  • freeCodeCamp: If you’re looking for a tighter curriculum, freeCodeCamp will take you through basic HTML and CSS concepts, then move onto more advanced JavaScript and algorithm challenges. On the website, there are also some basic coding interview prep questions to do as you please. If you make an account, you can keep track of your progress as you go through the hundreds of challenges.
  • Codecademy: Unsure of which language to start learning? Or maybe you have a specific career path in mind, but aren’t sure where to start? The website will quiz you on what you’re interested in and then help you along from there. Codecademy is a great place to start if you know absolutely nothing about programming—the lessons are straightforward and the modules give you step-by-step instructions. Languages include Python, JavaScript, HTML, CSS, Java, and more.
  • LearnCpp: It’s a bit of a challenge, but if you’re looking to learn C++ online, LearnCpp is a good place to get an introductory grasp of language. The site will guide you through each component of C++, starting with variables and fundamental data types, to virtual functions and more. The material is presented textbook-style, with a comprehensive quiz at the end of each chapter.
  • Swirl: If you harbour a deep interest in statistics or data science, you’ll want to learn R. Check out Swirl for some neat interactive exercises. You’ll have to download R and Swirl to access the courses, but once you do it’s all hands-on from there. Lessons usually take from 10-20 minutes and you can go through the topics at your own comfortable pace.
  • Kotlin: If you want to make an Android app, consider learning Kotlin, as Google announced its support for the language in 2017. Before learning Kotlin, it may be helpful to first learn Java. The tutorials on the site will guide you through different tasks, starting from downloading and launching Kotlin to writing Android applications.
  • Intro to App Development with Swift: This online book is available to download for free on Mac or iOS devices. The book will give you a rundown on how to build an app from scratch using Swift, no prior experience necessary.

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