November 7, 2013 - No Comments!

Tech Tip: Codecademy

codecademy_logo_detailWant to learn some code basics? It’s as easy as opening your web browser.

Confession: I am not a developer. Over time I’ve learned some cursory HTML, but the rest of the coding languages are Greek to me. As a writer among the programmers here at Table XI, I’ve felt a bit guilty about that. I’ve always wanted to get more familiar with code, partly to be able to understand developers better, and partly because it’s time to join the 21st century.

Enter Codecademy, a website that teaches you all the basics. Codecademy offers free web tutorials for a number of languages, including HTML/CSS, JavaScript, PHP, Python, Ruby, and APIs. The interactive tutorials are well designed and teach you terms and processes in a step-by-step format, offering you hints in case you get stuck. Along the way you earn points and badges, for that extra burnish of accomplishment. And since it's all in your browser, you can do them on your own time, at your own pace.

Even if you, like me, are not a developer by trade, knowing some code basics can still come in handy. For example, if you host your blog on WordPress or send out company newsletters through a client like Mailchimp, some general understanding of HTML and CSS can help you design your posts or troubleshoot simple problems. And if your company works with a development firm like Table XI, a smattering of code knowledge will only improve communication with your programming team.

My code made that pop-up box pop up!

My code made that pop-up box pop up!

Co-founder Zach Sims gives this advice if you're unsure what coding language to try:

• Want to be more web savvy, or build a website? Start with Web Fundamentals. This covers all the basic HTML and CSS you'll need to know to understand the web.
• Want to make a game or app? Give JavaScript a try. This dynamic language will let you create interactive apps that you can use on a smartphone.
• Want to process data or explore databases? Ruby or Python are your best bet.

If you’re nervous about diving into the code pool, don’t be. Believe me, I’m as n00bie as they come, and if I can build a “Choose Your Own Adventure” game in JavaScript, anyone can. Like any new language, it takes some time to learn the syntax and patterns, but it’s incredibly rewarding when you do. Finish a course and you'll be feeling that warm glow of "I made that!" in no time.

If Codecademy sparks an interest and you'd like to take some more intensive courses in the real world, check out programs at Girl Develop It, Dev Bootcamp, gSchool, and The Starter League.

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