If you are just starting out in tech but do not know which path to take, then this article is for you.
If you've started learning, but you're still confused on which programming language or tools to choose, don't worry – we'll discuss that here.
And if you've ever wondered how many tutorials you need to read to become a better programmer, we'll talk about that, too.
Let's begin with which programming language to choose. Then we'll look at how to best use tutorials to make yourself a better programmer.
What Programming Language Do I Learn First?
This question has been asked by almost everyone you know in tech today. There are so many different areas in the tech field, along with a ton of design tools, writing tools, programming languages, frameworks and so on. All this makes your choices quite difficult and possibly overwhelming.
So let's start with one of the most basic questions: which programming language should you learn first?
The most common answer to this question is: "Learn any language you want, and the others will become easy to learn afterwards". I totally agree with this answer.
Sometimes, it might still be difficult to just pick one at random. Here are a few points that will help you make your choice.
Choose a programming language based on your interests
You'll likely learn faster if you have interest in the subject you're learning about. So you might want to ask yourself what your interests in the tech field are.
First, this will help you pick a language that aligns with your interests. And second, it will make it easier and more interesting to learn. Most importantly, you will hardly find a reason to give up.
For example, if you have interest in hardware, you might consider a language that helps you build robotics like C/C++, Python, MATLAB, Java and so on.
If you love aesthetics, you might want to go for design or frontend development using tools like Figma, Adobe XD, CSS, PhotoShop and others.
If you love writing, you can consider technical writing or documentation using tools like snipper for image capturing, Photoshop for image editing, grammarly for proofreading, and a markdown editor for formatting content.
Choose a programming language based on its community
Most popular programming languages have a large community built up around them. These are people in that field who use the language regularly, and they might even work on or contribute to it if it's open source.
The size and robustness of the community determines how many contributions are made to that language and how much support you might find if you have issues with it.
For example, if you're learning a language like Python that has a large and thriving community, you probably won't have to wait very long before a bug gets fixed if you find one.
PHP didn't used to have frameworks, but people who use and love the language went ahead and built some for it such as Code Igniter and Laravel. And other devs built packages that you can just add to your code to get a lot done in very little time.
Another benefit of this is that you will have a lot of people with similar interests to network with. If you have a good network, you get to learn not just about the language but also about opportunities around it.
In general, there is usually a higher probability of getting help from a community of 10,000 people compared to a community of 1,000 people.
Choose a programming language based on job availability
Unless you have a particular project you want to build or you work as a freelancer, you should focus on learning a language that many companies use, especially those around your area. This is a practical consideration for when you start looking for a developer job.
So you might want to ask around and find out which languages the companies use that you wish to work for.
Choose a programming language based on your background
Your educational background can also help you choose a programming language to learn. If you learn a programming language related to your background, you will find it easier to pick up and you'll likely make progress more quickly.
For example, if you have a background in statistics and analysis, you will find it more interesting to learn programming languages used for those purposes, such as Python and R. If you have a background in creative art, you might find design and frontend web development more interesting.
Choose a programming language based on your ability to persevere
Every developer (that is, problem solver) should strive to become patient, resilient, and tough. When you're learning to code, you'll have to persevere through a lot of hard times.
And learning some programming languages requires more of these qualities than others.
So you might want to ask yourself the following questions:
"Am I in a hurry to get a job?", "Am I a total tech beginner with no previous programming experience?" or "Am I the type that gives up a little easier?"
If you answered "YES" to those questions, or if you just want to start slow, you should start with a language that is clearer and easier to understand instead of jumping right into a language that might be very complicated.
This will help you focus more on learning backend programming structures, database relationships, and so on. On the other hand, if you jumped straight into PHP, Java, or Python (which have a totally different syntax), things would be more difficult at first.
And then, if you later choose to learn another backend language, it becomes even easier because you already have experience in backend development. So now you can focus on learning the syntax of the new language only.
If you keep these five points in mind when you're choosing a language to learn, you are most likely going to find it a lot easier to find your way.
But after you choose a language, there is another crucial question that bothers many new developers: "How many more tutorials do I need to go through to become a better programmer?" The next section of this article addresses that question.
How many coding tutorials should you go through?
The answer to that question is this: tutorials alone don't make you a better programmer. You don't need to follow tutorials to become a professional programmer. What you really need is constant practice.
Don't get me wrong: I am not saying you shouldn't go through tutorials – but no amount of tutorials will make you a pro.
Programming is just like every other thing you do in this life. You don't learn by just looking (that is, only theory) but rather by also doing (that is, continuous practice).
You don't learn how to drive just by watching someone drive.
You don't learn how to cook just by watching someone cook.
You don't learn how to do anything just by watching someone do it.
Let me relate with you a bit: You get a tutorial and you read or watch it as the case maybe. You see the instructor do everything step by step and it looks so easy – so you feel like you can do it and you say to yourself: "When I need this I will refer to this tutorial" and you move to another tutorial.
Well, this is OKAY. Many of us have made this mistake already so we understand!
But have you ever thought to yourself:
Why are these tutorials usually bug-free?
Why does it take you so much time to do what took the instructor a short time to accomplish?
Now, think about that for a moment!
Well, the answer is simple - the teacher has practiced and thought through the tutorial carefully before coming to teach you!
Just like that teacher, you have to practice constantly. When you practice, this is what will follow:
- You will come across bugs (problems) – after all, programming is all about problem solving.
- You go through the pain and joy of solving the problem.
- When you finally do, you will have really learned something and become a better programmer.
Please grab your cup of coffee or tea and follow me:
- Learn the basics of programming (any language of your choice).
- Draw out a plan to build the app (This might include how the front-end (UI) looks, how the databases are related or connected, how the back-end works, and so on).
- Set a reasonable deadline and work towards it (This is very important as it keeps you focused – you know when you are moving fast and when you are slow).
- Always use Documentation (Don't try to learn everything in the documentation – just focus on what you need for the completion of the project you chose).
- Don't forget Google Search and Youtube, especially when you run into bugs (Most problems you will run into have been faced by someone and documented online).
Starting out in tech is not easy but anyone can do it with some hard work and determination. In this article, I've explained five points that can help you make a decision about how to start learning.
It is important to note that the qualities mentioned in point five can be built on or worked on over time. So don't give up if it doesn't come easily!
Just remember: PRACTICE! PRACTICE!! PRACTICE!!!
That is what you really need to become a professional programmer. Build projects – lots of them – and use tutorials to help you more fully understand concepts or problems you come across. Some of us have already made this mistake, so learn from us.
If you're struggling to learn your first language, don't worry. It might be because you have not been building stuff. So build something, anything at all, fix bugs, write about what you are learning if you want to. All this will help you grow as a developer.