New to Programming? Useful Tips for Newbies to get a Head Start


June 13, 2017 • CAREER • Author:

Every expert was once a beginner.

The hardest thing to do as a programmer is to start. Once you do, there are plenty of ways to make it work. Today, I will cover some topics that I think every beginner in programming should know. If you are here in search of ideas to get started and to learn how to code, you are in the right place.

First of all, congratulate yourself that you have selected to learn something that is really easy and never boring. Now, follow through my suggestions and get a head-start on programming.

First Programming Language

Most beginners start with a single line google search "Which programming language to learn and then how to learn ________". If you are one searching, the usual answer is to select any random programming language to get started. Remember, when you begin to learn to program, you learn the basics that you can apply later to any programming language because the basic concept of all programming language is similar. I suggest

1. JavaScript or

2. Python or

3. C.

C programming is the first programming language that I learned and it didn't take me long to learn the other two.

Compiler Error Runtime Messages

While programming, many beginners completely ignore the error messages that are displayed while compilation or runtime error messages. They might read it, but nine out of ten times, they’ll simply dismiss it and try again simply by changing a bit of code, assuring themselves that it will work. You should realize that the error you’re getting contains useful information on how to fix it. If you cannot fix it, then take the error message and google it.

Use Google

By now (while you are just beginning), most common problems have already been solved in online forums and many tutorials are also posted to solve some specific problems. So make it a habit to google. Pick the exact error message that you are receiving. Other newbies must have already asked questions and already received answered. If you cannot find any solution, use Stack Overflow. Ask and someone will answer it within hours.

Better coding style

Any fool can write code that a computer can understand. Good programmers write code that humans can understand. – Martin Fowler

Always remember to make commenting & documentation of your program. One of my friends always used to say “If you need to comment your code, just rewrite it”. I never really followed him but I know that he writes comments on his code. Follow better Indentation, this will make it easier for you to understand your code and you will never miss the opening and closing brackets. Don’t use slang on variables, use full words. It may take some extra time to type but you never need to go back and check for the purpose of the variable.

Key stock and keyboard practices

How fast can you type? You should learn good typing practices rather than learning to type fast. The typing speed gained by the fingers on right places can be effective.

Version control system

Always learn to use version control system. Version control system will track your progress with all the information like when, by whom and why (the commit message). Get started with Git Version Control System. When you write code and it works as expected, what will you do to edit it further? You simply copy it and start editing. In doing so, you will make multiple files with slightly different code. But with version control system, every commit is tracked so that you can go back to any condition of your file. Commit often but never commit if your code is not giving expected result.

Use Code editors

Writing codes in code editor is really easy. Working with the various coloration syntax (highlighting) is fun. There are large numbers of IDEs that can fit your needs. You can select any one that supports your selected programming language. Using autocomplete makes it easy but I suggest you not to use it till you know the keywords yourself. Also, learn how to use vim (at least learn a bit of it.)

Command lines tools

You can easily work with IDEs or code editors most of the time. However, it will be great if you learn how to do the same thing through command lines as well. It will make your life easier. You can do much work with some codes. Not only in Linux and Mac OS but you can also use the commands in Windows. Working through terminal is cool. You could enjoy it too.

Read and Practice

You can check programs and codes on your programming language in open source projects. Be willing to admit that you do not know it all and always be keen on learning. Invest your time on reading and learn more than only writing codes. Be passionate about coding. Master the art of practicing. Always have the inquisitiveness to learn something new and practice whenever possible. Open source projects are built with the input of many developers. Therefore, it is a good idea to browse through the source code of these projects to observe what these developers are doing.

Learn HTML & CSS

Whatever programming language you learn, I suggest you learn HTML and CSS in depth. You will enjoy creating and showing your art on web browsers using a combination of HTML and CSS. Whenever I get a chance, I work with HTML and CSS, creating random pages with a variety of colors. I really enjoy doing it. Get started with free code camp. You can also learn more from (free of cost!)

I will, in fact, claim that the difference between a bad programmer and a good one is, whether he considers his code more important or his data structures.

Bad programmers worry about the code. Good programmers worry about data structures and their relationships. – Linus Torvalds, creator of Linux

Now you're ready to start your journey into the world of programming. Consider following these steps to learn more effectively. Programming is real fun, you just need to know how to enjoy it.

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