Feeling lost while learning code

Feeling lost while learning code
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#1

HI guys, I know you’ve probably heard this a lot, but here’s the question:
How can I fill the gaps between what I learn in FCC and building projects?

I really like Free Code Camp, but I also often feel insecure about my coding abilities. For example, I can complete the coding challenges without too much struggle, save for a few occasions (I really appreciate the advice I’ve found here, thanks), but I just can’t seem to apply the knowledge effectively.
On Medium and YouTube, I often find the advice that to really learn code one has to build projects, but how? Sometimes I come up with ideas, but then I find out I can’t implement them, or I simply can’t decide which technology is best suited to build it.
I also tried building some of the front end pages recommended in the p1xt guide, but I feel that the weeks I spend building them I’m missing out on learning more things on the Free Code Camp curriculum (I am currently on pause at the React section).
To be honest, I enjoyed building the projects, but I feel like I am missing a lot of important knowledge. For example, I did well at the JS algorithm challenges, but I am not confident with the DOM; I learned Sass, but I’m bad at design and CSS animations. I don’t know if I should stop and focus on the basics a couple of months or if I should finish the front end libraries certification and pick up on those things afterwards.

I think I have too many questions:

  • Should I just rush the FCC challenges and then double back to refine my coding skills?
  • Should I learn React before DOM and APIs?
  • Should I have learned how to deploy websites before learning front end libraries?
  • Should I follow tutorials or try to figure out things like carousels on my own?
  • Should I build my own projects, even if I get stuck for weeks, or should I just focus on the ones here in FCC?
  • How can I use all the cool stuff like ES6 and Sass If I still can’t wrap my head around APIs, JSON and databases?
  • Should I follow all the flashy tutorials on Youtube or study documentation and try figuring out how to build stuff from there?

Sorry about the rant guys, I want to try and focus on my learning, I want to trust what I’m learning on Free Code Camp, but Every time I’m about to learn a new skill, some flashy new tutorial or article pops up, making me feel like I 've been treading water while all the other coders zip around on jetskis.
I feel lost, I don’t know what to do, but I want to be able to build stuff without always having to rely on tutorials. I mean, I really want to learn. The guys making the tutorials learned, so it’s possible, but I simply feel I don’t know enough code.

I’ll really appreciate your advice on any of the difficulties I’m currently facing.

If TL:DR:
What should I really be spending my time on to really learn web development?

PS: I don’t know any coders in real life (No hate please :blush: )

1 Like
#2

I can feel ya…I’ve had prior experience with HTML 4 and with CSS (when CSS was first being widely implemented) years ago. I was pretty good with “VB net” too. So, I zipped through the HTML Cert, fast. I backed out of webdesign in 2008, when the Market crashed for it here in the US…Anyway I just needed updating on changes, it all came back to me fast. I’m Just now getting back in the game after all these years, because the market has improved in the US to make it worthwhile again to be a programmer…But So much has changed (for me) from just ten years ago; its mind numbing. Javascript is proving very frustrating for me so don’t feel bad, man…I personally don’t try to compare myself to others with this stuff, it’ll ruin your confidence needlessly. All I can say is just plod along until it becomes a second nature. I think The intent of the lessons and projects is, more or less, to get you acquainted with the concepts, syntax and resources…I don’t know of a single coder that doesn’t go look at stack overflow or google or where-ever for help.

Javascript is totally new to me as lang and I don’t learn as fast as I used to (old dog, new tricks)…But I intend on conquering it; way I see it: it ain’t race, its a marathon. If you gotta double back, I say do it. I do it…I read the hints whether I got it right or not…and I watch videos and get books from other sources,etc…Point being is: you cross the finish line at your time. The zen of it is: there is no finish line.

Eagerly waiting to how someone else answers your questions…

Cheers!

#3

If you haven’t worked from beginning to end through all of the FCC challenges, then you are just like me…looking for more excuses to procrastinate doing the work.

Good luck friend.

This video gets posted pretty often…

Good thing to watch before going off to binge Netflix.

2 Likes
#4

So, you mean I should:
a) Stick to barebones HTML, CSS and JS and build a whole lot of stuff until I’m confident.
Or
b) Stick to the FCC challenges until I finish the whole thing / all the front end certifications.

Which one? I think I lost a couple of neurons trying to decide a couple of weeks ago.

PS: If you or any other advanced dev gives a word of advice, you’d make my day.

Thanks.

1 Like
#5

No not just the front end FCC challenges.

Frontend, backend, fullstack.

#6

So the question of “but what should I learn?” is the kind of question that you can ask yourself at any stage of your career, heck you could ask that to yourself every day!

So, how about answering it?
I personally believe you should focus on learning things that get you to your high level goal. If your goal is very broad (web developer) then learn anything and everything that gets you closer to this goal. So if you want to be a full stack web developer, go out and try to develop a full stack web app. If your not sure if you like or want to ever do server-side code (nodejs or otherwise) then just go out and try it and see.

So should you go learn the “lower level API” and fundamental coding skills? Maybe, if you feel like your struggling with any of these then sure go ahead and learn them, going over the fundamentals is always a good thing :smiley:

Now if you should go build projects I always say yes go build your own projects, along with FCCs. Go learn something different, integrate some new tech, try out some new process, or deployment approach. Projects are where you get to test yourself and your skills. If you find yourself to be struggling with most of the development, try to identify why and what your struggling with so you can narrow your learning to learning that topic. Without trying to do projects, and pushing yourself, you wont get an opportunity to identify the skills you lack, and reinforce the skills you know.

Finally, I’d like to say that being a jack of all trades is usually better than a specialist when learning. It opens up a lot of doors to learning new things you may like more, and prevents you from pigeon holing yourself by specializing only a few skills.

Go out and build, and good luck :smiley:

2 Likes
#7

My advice is to learn JavaScript, HTML, and css. Do the FCC projects on codepen (don’t do any of the React or things beyond maybe jQuery…just HTML, CSS, JS) and the JS algorithms.

Do all the projects that need just these things i.e. the Pomodoro clock, Calculator, and Simon game using nothing more than HTML, CSS, and JavaScript (maybe jQuery) are as advanced as you should do. Do those projects on codepen.

Then, make your own website. Whether that be going through hosting your own website, or using something like Github Pages. Follow as many tutorials as you need. Who cares? This will help you learn how the web dev languages actually relate to developing a website (making a codepen is not making a website, you need to write the code locally on your machine, and then host it on the internet). For this step you’ll need to learn additional things like git, github, cPanel (maybe), npm (maybe).

Once you’ve got that, pick up a framework. Say, React for example. Learn it on FCC or Codecademy, then build something with it. Or build a couple things or a few things.

Then pick something else like Router, or start the back-end (Express, Node, MongoDB, Mongoose). Learn it on FCC, ask questions here when stuck, do the projects on the code sandbox they suggest (can’t remember the name). Then make something locally.

Then continue this the rest of your career. Learn something. Practice tutorial project or whatever with it. Make something personal with it.

What you can also do when you run out of personal project ideas, is add whatever you just learned to one of your old projects, or remake them with the new tech. For example, I made the Pomodoro Clock with jQuery the first time. Recently, I remade it with React and hosted it on Github Pages.

This is what I did. I am satisfied with the results. The only thing I didn’t mention, is I learned JavaScript on Codecademy first, then started FCC

3 Likes
#8

Thanks for the advice. It makes a bit more sense to me to try and focus for a while.
I’ll try my best.

#9

I posted this 3 years ago:

The tl;dr is this:

FreeCodeCamp offers one path, but there are many. If you don’t know what you should do, stick to the FCC path. If at some point that starts to cause problems (i.e. You have a problem that requires different technologies) then divert from the path until the problem is solved. Then either rejoin the path, or go your own way.

1 Like
#10

Think of FCC as a roadmap of what you need to know to become employable. FCC can’t teach everything (and no single website/tutorial can teach everything there is to know).

It’s up to you to find other resources, books, online tutorials, videos, to learn on your own.

Then go back again to the FCC challenges/projects and check if you know enough to solve it.

– Once you’re working on a real world project (ex: while employed, or freelancing), the same pattern emerges. You need to work on a client/job project but you don’t know certain aspects of it (new task, new framework, new language, new technology, etc). So you leave it for a while, go study that thing you don’t know, and then you go back and try to finish your job/project.

2 Likes
#11

You’re right, there are SO many flashy options. I think that for tough or unfamiliar concepts, it helps me to come at it through a variety of resources. Where a video tutorial might rush through steps at lightning speed, a good old-fashioned book lets you take the time to slow down and reread the deeper explanation until it clicks. But… the tutorial can give a really valuable big picture perspective. I don’t think it has to be either-or.

Do try to avoid the “sunk cost” fallacy. If you have invested time or money in a learning resource that isn’t really helping you, don’t feel obligated to continue investing in it! It’s a bad investment! Move on, find something else that can actually help you where you’re at.

Hope that helps. :slight_smile: I’m a newbie trying not to drown in the ocean of information, myself!

2 Likes
#12

Well, then I think it’s time to get those books.
By the way, good post.

#13

Little late to this but thought I’d throw my hat in the ring.

I started out studying in Uni for three years as a software engineer before migrating exclusively into Cybersecurity at a different school (50/50 technical and policy). I only mention this because due to transferring schools and changing programs I’ve been exposed to a lot of different frameworks, perspectives, etc.

My take is similar to what is mentioned above with one exception. There’s this sort of view in cybersec that applies to a lot within computer science, that you can’t be excellent at everything, but you can be decent at a lot and be excellent at a couple of things. I think it’s important to keep this in mind because otherwise it’s overwhelming the amount of information you’re presented with, seeing so many other people so easily pick something up or be so proficient at this and that can be really discouraging. It’s SUPER important to understand the fundamentals and structure like mentioned above (in this case HTML CSS JS), but past that even full stack developers will have a specialty in one aspect of what they do. Once you get the fundamentals, odds are you’ll find something that catches your interest and build your knowledge off from there. For me I approach these lessons with the goal of bettering my JS scripting, understanding web/server structure, etc so I can apply that to pen testing since I’m more used to LAN/application exploitation.

As for pigeon holing yourself, it’s true that it is a concern. But as long as you’re a lifelong learner and have interest in what you do, odds are you’ll continue to naturally learn new things and branch out into topics. Just remember that its impossible to be great at everything! That’s what team work and community is for :smile:

1 Like
#14

Hi Ebecode,

I totally feel you! I´m a newbie myself, so I understand. The beauty, but also the difficulty of learning to code is, there a so many ways how to do it - there isn´t the ONE way that applies for all. So you have to decide for yourself. Me I had hours on thinking an finding out about how to it. There a so many options, paid ones, free ones, online, offline… And then wich language should I start with ect. For me, I am getting familiar with HTML and CSS for some months now, having breaks also. I could have started with the challenges weeks ago. But I found, I prefer learning first and having a strong foundation instead of just starting and figuring things out along the way. And also enjoying the whole process instead of rushing through. My advice would be, create your own way of learning, that suits YOU and your personality most! I feel that sense of insecurity in your post. So I would like to suggest, that you focus on the foundations (for me it would be HTML, CSS, Javascript), then going the next step. But it´s completely up to you. You can´t go wrong - even if it´s been the wrong step, you will gain insights from your mistakes. If you stop going the way, you will fail. Otherwise there is no way you will not succeed. You are meant to be a coder, so stop wasting your time with doubts. Just keep walking.

#15

What I did was when I got to a point with the curriculum that I felt pretty lost, I went to Udemy and took a couple of courses on what I was stuck on. Then I could come back to the curriculum and proceed further. That’s how I am doing things.

For example, I got pretty confused with the JavaScript section, so I took to Udemy courses on JavaScript and came back and finished it.

#16

I guess you easily found out I’m an introvert. Oops :smile:

#17

I had to hop on a couple of tutorials to learn SASS. I can work with the basics pretty well already, despite having to keep a bookmark around to refer to for every setup.