Skip the expensive classes, try Codecademy!

codecademy

Have you ever thought to yourself: “man, I wonder how fabulous websites like inefficiency.sucks are created?” Well, turns out it can be pretty easy to dig in to. Your first thought might be to check into local community colleges and see what sort of introductory coding courses they may offer, but those can run $200+ a credit. You may then think to look into self teaching by getting a book, but that can prove to be expensive as well; there could be additional software needs that the book doesn’t provide, not to mention very little guidance.

Well with those logical solutions seeming less logical, what other options are there? Recently I’ve been working to expand my own repertoire of coding languages and heard about a website called Codecademy. They have an ever-expanding selection of courses to teach people basic and advanced techniques for many different coding languages. The only formal learning I had done in the past was a high school course on HTML and an introductory course in college, outside of that I had only done a bit of coding with VBScript at my job. So, I would consider myself fairly fresh to the world of coding. I think Codecademy is very helpful, and that many people will consider it to be an affordable and valuable alternative to the traditional methods of learning a new programming language.

When you create an account with Codecademy they will ask you some questions about what you might like to learn and what skills you may already have. After that they will suggest courses in their catalog that might be useful, as well as a general order of things to tackle. For me, since it had been some time since I learned HTML, I decided to start fresh with the HTML/CSS course.

One of the best features about this site is their set up for learning. They arrange the lesson in a tab on the left of the screen, have a section to display and edit code in the middle and a smaller box on the right that will display in real time the results of your coding. This display of the results allows you to see exactly how your coding affects things much quicker than some more traditional programs.

This is a screenshot showing the first page from the HTML course. It displays the lesson on the left, the field to edit code in the middle, and a box displaying the results of the code on the right.

One small step into coding, one giant leap into an opportunity for improvement.

As you progress through the courses you will get to solve increasingly challenging but interesting exercises. Each exercise builds on the lessons that came before eventually culminating in a final exercise where they ask you to try out everything you’ve learned. The grading for the exercises can sometimes be a little strict on things like what word you used for a variable or what capitalization method you used but once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty easy. The only other flaw I found with the exercises I tried was found on the PHP course: in some instances I would be editing code, but since the code was actively trying to display on the preview box it would create fatal errors that cause the page to crash and need a reload (Pro tip: F5 if you want a hotkey to reload a page!). The best way I found around this was to either enter code in a notepad program, or by “commenting out” the code until it was complete (the courses themselves will explain the syntax to comment your code). Other than those two flaws I found the exercises to be very helpful in getting the basis of the syntax and tools available from each coding language.

Overall I found Codecademy to be a very useful tool. It’s great if you want to brush up on your skills, learn something new, or even use as a supplement if you are taking a formal course. I personally would recommend it to anyone interest in learning more about the inner workings of coding and the computers that may one day take over the Earth.

Animated GIF of Terminator endoskeleton from Terminator 2 film.

Only you can prevent the machine uprising!

Thank you for taking the time to read our articles! If you know of any other similar sites, or other tools to learn coding, please leave a comment below and share with others. Maybe we can take a look at them as well! If you found this or any other article on inefficiency.sucks useful feel free to share it with anyone you think might benefit from it.


Charles Potter

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