Nine sites for teaching yourself how to code

ADAM ARBOLINO
Last updated 12:43, March 25 2014
NUMBERS GAME: Adam Arbolino, chief technology officer at Design Crowd.

NUMBERS GAME: Adam Arbolino, chief technology officer at Design Crowd.

Opinion: For most of us, coding is a foreign language that we'll never understand, or at least that's what we think. But there are some great tools out there that can help anyone learn how to write computer code, and it's much easier than you may suspect.

In fact, learning at least a few programming languages is a great way to become more versatile and employable, as well as save money.

For example, if you know how to code a website yourself, there's no need to pay someone else to create a website for you.

For other people it may open up additional possibilities. Writers who know how to code can offer tutorials on blogs. Search engine optimisation experts can optimise the back-end of a website easier if they know how to code. Many other fields can benefit from programming knowledge as well and in many fields, not just in technology, from biology and research to mathematics and medicine.

So where do you start? And how do you learn without paying the big bucks for formal education? Below are some of the best resources available on the web for teaching yourself to code. Most of them are free, and those that come with a cost are considerably more affordable than going to university, college or TAFE. Here are some step-by-step and lesson-style websites and tools that can teach you how to code:

1. Codecademy

For those who'd like a support team. Here you'll be taught with step-by-step instructions and explanations. There's also a community of people learning to code that can help if you run across a problem.

2. Code Racer

For those who like mixing work and play. If you are looking for a truly fun way to learn HTML and CSS, Code Racer is one of the best. The team at Treehouse built this learning game to help anyone across the world learn how to do basic coding for the web, while playing games!

3. Treehouse

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For those serious about progressing their code knowledge. The makers of Code Racer offer more than just a game to help users learn to code; they also offer complete online courses for learning how to build a website and apps. The introductory series is free. If you want to take your education further though, you will need to sign up for a monthly subscription - their Silver monthly subscription costs $25 and their Gold $49.

4. Code School

For those that like to know the nitty gritty of things. This online school for learning web technologies is set up a little like Bento box except it's easier to follow. Their courses are divided into paths, such as HTML/CSS or iOS. Each path is extensive, teaching the little subtleties that make coding much less painful. Many users also claim this is a great place for experienced developers to brush up on knowledge and fill in learning gaps.

5. TheCodePlayer

For those who already know the basics of coding, TheCodePlayer offers specific walk-throughs for different code scenarios. Each of the walk-throughs is a video of the application being coded, so it would be very difficult to follow if you didn't already know at least a little bit of HTML, CSS, etc. 

6. Code Avengers

For lovers of tutorials, the classroom and learning games. If you are looking for a varied teaching style, here they are wrapped into one. Learn Javascript, HTML, and CSS. Plus, the team plans to add Python by early in 2014.

7. Learn Code the Hard Way

For those who want to learn the language of Python, Ruby, C, SQL, or Regex the hard way, this site offers a free HTML book for each language. But you can also get extra help, videos, etc cheaply. For instance, all of the extras for Python are around $29 and for Ruby $5.

8. Khan Academy

For those who want to build animations, graphics and interactive elements with free tutorials. The best part about Khan Academy is that you can practise building your own programs using their "new program" feature. Khan then points out mistakes as you enter your code. It's also great for checking code for errors.

9. Bloc

For the 110 per cent dedicated. If you do better with accountability, then Bloc may be your school of choice. While definitely a more expensive option at $4250 up to $6000 (depending on your payment plan), Bloc claims to turn you into a web developer in 12 weeks through a mentorship program. It is also quite intensive since it suggests spending 25+ hours a week on courses, along with meeting with your mentor at least 3 times a week.

Adam Arbolino is co-founder and chief technology officer of DesignCrowd.com

 - Sydney Morning Herald

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