Sunday, February 3, 2013

I was recently asked by a friend what it takes to "Learn to code" on the web.

To me, this response was probably helpful to those just starting out.

1. When you say "Learn HTML" You're really talking about learning what's commonly referred to as the DOM (Document object Model). That's really just a complex way of saying "Hey, I need to know how browsers are supposed to behave so that I can format the output of my information correctly, using things like tables, classes and id's." This is a good thing to be familiar with for doing any kind of programming for the web. 

2. You don't really want to learn MySQL. MySQL isn't a language so much as a script for putting information into and getting it out of a database. More likely you want to "learn" PHP, Python, javascript, or Ruby (If you're into bondage)
You then use that language to inject MySQL statements into your code, so that you can interact with a database. 
If you want to jump start from here, you can google "Using MySQL with PHP" or any other language you like. 
(Of note is that Javascript is currently the new hotness, even though things like facebook still run on really advanced versions of php. You may also run into "other" types of 'NoSQL' databases, but don't worry about them until you have a good understanding of MySQL)

3. You can easily setup your own rig for less than $10 a month for a public facing playground (check out rackspace for starters, or you can just install a LAMP stack (Linux/apache/mysql/php) on your own home rig for learning purposes. Building/installing your own setup gives you the best understanding of how it all works.

4. Most important, don't get hung up on "learning" the language. Just do a thing. You know what what you want to do.. 
"I really wish I had a page for storing mega links in a DB, and then displaying them"
Ok, that's something that's been done 1000 times over. Do it. who cares if it's shit.
Once you get past that first hurtle you can always say "I wish it did this.." Then google that, improve it, rinse, repeat. 
That's how you learn to code. Formal classes just place a false pressure on you to do so.

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