by Quincy Larson

Let’s explore the universe of programming resources together

There are a lot of free programming resources out there.

Here’s a list of more than a thousand free programming books.

Here’s a list of hundreds of free online university courses on math, computer science, and engineering.

You could participate in one of dozens of major hackathons this month.

Or you could hang out with developers at one of more than a thousand hackerspaces around the globe.

Scattered throughout this universe of books, courses, hackathons, and hackerspaces are lifetimes-worth of programming knowledge and experience, available for free.

But you don’t have lifetimes to prepare for your career as a developer. So you’ll need to spend your time wisely, choosing the best resources that will help you build true proficiency in both the art and the science of building software. And you’ll want to ask questions. Lots of questions.

We’ve built a straight line

Over the past 18 months, Free Code Camp’s open source community has begun the never-ending task of designing and maintaining a core programming curriculum.

Thousands of people around the world are working through this curriculum together.

Our curriculum represents a “sane default” learning path. It has a clear entry point for people who are relatively new to programming, a clear endpoint (your first developer job), and no distracting electives or supplementary resources.

And hundreds of people have already gotten their first developer jobs as a result of patiently working their way through this curriculum.

In nature, there are no straight lines

In practice, very few people stick to a linear path. It turns out that many of us enjoy embarking on side quests.

“Have you read Kyle Simpson’s You Don’t Know JS series yet?” a friend asks.

Or, “Columbia’s machine learning course is awesome! Have you taken it yet?”

Or, “There’s this Internet-of-Things hackathon next weekend! Want to join my team?”

Developers need a hype-free, ad-free place where they can learn about these resources from others, and decide whether they’re a good fit for their goals and learning style.

There is no “one resource to rule them all”

Free Code Camp isn’t a “one-stop shop.”

No such thing exists. Certainly not for a field as deep and dynamic as software development.

Sure, there are courses that advertise themselves as “everything you need,” or claim they can help you “teach yourself C++ in 21 days.” The people selling you these notions just want to cash-in on your impatience and naivety.

You can’t learn everything there is to know in a month, or even in a year. Peter Norvig, the Berkeley professor who heads Google’s research efforts, thinks you can probably teach yourself programming in 10 years, though.

Free Code Camp has built a project-oriented curriculum that takes about one working year (2,080 hours). You’ll probably be able to get your first developer job long before you’ve finished it, but getting a job is just one early milestone in your progression toward becoming a proficient software developer.

An intergalactic coding resource observatory

So today, we’re announcing an extension of Free Code Camp’s open source community. A forum where you can discuss all of the great learning resources out there: books, video series, podcasts, online courses, even coding video games. All within the same safe, constructive environment that we’ve fostered in our chat rooms.

You’ll be able to discuss your favorite programming resources, discover new ones, and get help when you get stuck.

And the further you get in your programming journey, the more useful this forum will become. Software development is an ever-evolving field, and great programmers author resources that explore a long tail of new technologies every day.

Why it took us 18 months to launch a forum

We didn’t want to launch a forum until we had a clear idea of what purpose it would serve. Tens of thousands of Campers are already hanging out with one another in our chat rooms and 1,000+ local Facebook groups. So why complicate things?

At first we considered letting the pedestrians define the walkways by structuring the forum around how people actually used it. This approach has worked well for Gitter, Medium, Reddit, and Facebook, where feedback from our campers and usage statistics have driven virtually every design decision we’ve made.

With our forum, though, we don’t want to detract from other lively areas of the Free Code Camp community. Instead, we’re specifically setting out to create a “book club” of sorts, where people can engage in nuanced, long-form discussions about a variety of programming resources over time.

By structuring the conversation around specific resources, we hope to avoid a lot of “religious wars” that distract people from programming itself (Vim VS Emacs, Ruby VS Python, which version of Linux is the best, etc.)

Now you can discuss resources like O’Reilly programming books, Coursera courses, Code Wars algorithm puzzles, and Google tech talks, all in the same place, with the same group of people.

We also noticed that not everyone likes to get help with Free Code Camp challenges in our chat room, so we created an entire section of our forum specifically for doing this.

And don’t worry if you haven’t yet started reading your first programming book or working through your online programming course. You can post about anything related to programming, and our team of moderators will read it and categorize it for you.

We even have an off-topic area called the Campfire Lounge, where you can post about anything — anything that doesn’t violate our code of conduct anyway ?

If you’ve read this far, you’re probably like, “Where the heck is the link to the forum?”

All right, here it is: join our new forum.

You can one-click sign-in using your GitHub account.

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