We are surrounded by software that we interact with on a daily basis. It is not hard to understand why in this increasingly digital era, the traditional ‘abc’ and ‘123’ is being supplemented by ‘ActionScript, BitC and C++’ as a third kind of literacy. In this article we will look into why it may be beneficial for anyone to learn to code; from project managers to designers. In the second half of the article you will find suggested resources and methods to improve.
6 Reasons to Learn How to Code
Code is all around us – We spend an average of 7 hours in front of a computer each day, and we can safely add another hour using our smartphones. Yet, many of us don’t know how to write a single line of code. Do we really need to learn how to programme to participate in a world where almost every aspect is influenced directly by code, you may ask. Absolutely not. However, a basic understanding of how lines of code are building up the digital world around us can demystify technology and make us more digitally aware.
Unlock a great career – Aspiring to become a professional programmer is probably the most obvious reason to learn how to code. As the gap between the plentiful supply of developer jobs versus qualified people to fill them is growing larger, having a set of coding skills could potentially open up a great career with high earning potential and amazing future prospects. Furthermore, being a software developer was recently even voted as The Best Job for 2014.
Get a competitive advantage – Of course, not everyone wants to become a programmer. But even if you would like to stay with your current profession, basic coding skills can give you a definite competitive edge by diversifying your skillset. It allows you to help out with minor problems in your company, from upgrading the product website’s front-end to creating a task schedule alert.
Speak the language of tech – When working with technology, learning how to code is like learning Mandarin in order to launch a business in China. It will come in very handy, to say the least.
If you can speak the language of your environment, you will have a better understanding of the resources required and consequently allow you to make better informed decisions. As a manager, for example, it will help you to understand reasonable time and cost resource, as well as relate to the struggles of your tech team.
Learn problem solving skills – Learning how to code is not only about equipping the next generation of software engineers; it is also a valuable skill purely in terms of the way it makes us think. The mind-set that is required to program shows you how to tackle large complex problems by breaking them up into a sequence of smaller bite sized parts that are more manageable. It basically teaches you how to create a model of real world problems with a certain level of abstraction. This computational approach to think about the world stretches far beyond the field of technology, and can help you to solve problems in almost any discipline.
It’s fun! – It may seem hard to believe that sitting in front of a computer and typing lines is a lot of fun, whilst seeing your lines of code work is actually kind of magical. Seriously, have you tried it?
Resources: Coding for Beginners
While it has never been more essential to learn coding skills, with coding lessons for young and old cropping up everywhere, it has also never been easier to get started. Best of all, most of these resources are free.
Khan Academy – Khan Academy’s ground-breaking video tutorials keep you engaged and are perfect for absolute beginners.
Bento – While it is not a resource in itself, Bento offers a compendium of resources of more than 80 different languages and shows you which courses or tutorials to take.
Resources: Coding for Techies
However, if you’ve already left the beginners stage, you might be wondering what it takes to become a better developer? Here are some tips!
Learn from a master – One way to grow as a developer is to find a mentor. Learn from their codes, and let them review and criticise yours. If you can’t find a mentor, check out PeepCode’s Play by Play series, which will show other professionals at work, explaining their decisions as they go along.
Keep learning – “If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail,” the saying goes. Often, it is really easy to get stuck in a rut and stick with what you already know. However, even if you don’t see a direct use for learning a new technology, the chances are that once you learn them you will also discover opportunities to put them to use. Moreover, every new bit of knowledge will become increasingly easy to acquire if you continue to experiment.
Teach – One of the best ways to get better at virtually anything is by teaching it. Write for example a blog post about solving a certain problem. Having a series of blog posts can also be a great advantage when applying for a new job.
Join a community – Attend conferences and join communities such as Stackoverflow. You will not only be exposed to new ideas, but you will meet plenty of other enthusiastic people who can motivate you on your way.