Stuck? Can't find resources? Read this



8 Feb 2017


coding starters


5 minute read

At the Coder Academy Fast Track bootcamp program, we work closely with our students to teach them how to become self-sufficient coders. And a big part of being and becoming an up-to-date in-demand coder is knowing how to find good resources with quality information…..You hear it all the time ‘coding is a rapidly changing industry’, ‘technologies change and improve rapidly and we have to keep up’. Yep, It’s a task!

Part and parcel of that is a common phrase you’ll often hear in software development is RTFM: ‘read the …... manual’. However, that only takes you so far sometimes. Or maybe you just don’t understand it (yet). So what do you do next? Well, we'll explain to how you can (and where to find it!)

That’s not all either. An interrelated directive is ‘GIYF’, or, ‘Google is your friend’. However, first you gotta learn how to make it so. Some of this is about mastering Google’s not-so-well-known commands, and the other is learning how to talk like a programmer (the type that would that write responses to these questions). It takes a fair bit of jargon!

One of the maxims of Coder Academy is ‘anyone can learn to code’ - We don’t believe in genius. What we we believe is that with hard work and dedication, anyone can become a good developer. However, it all starts with knowing the right questions to ask. Obviously, you don’t really want the resource to give you the exact answers - over time that creates laziness - what you want is for it to point you in the right direction.

So without further ado, here’s a sneak peek into some of the knowledge shared by our teachers

Melbourne Lead Teacher Patrick Smith says ‘Chances are, if you find something difficult, someone else has too’ If it’s particularly hairy, Sydney TA Peter Koch says it’s ‘likely to be raised as an issue at the library’s Github. Be sure to check out both the open and closed issues’

Sydney TA Peter Koch advises that ‘there’s a good chance textbooks will be good, and Google Books will let you read snippets!’ The official documentation can also be pretty good, if you know where to look. Search for a wiki, a Google group, a Stack overflow tag, and you’ll find all sorts of useful information. Pasting in a very specific error message, or specific elements of an error message, can also take to a bug-tracking page where you can find out more about what the problem means. Good documentation will teach you what a library’s specific error messages are about.

He mentions that it’s better to look for more recent content. ‘Look for recent tutorials, created in the last year or so. Programming moves quickly, so it’s likely that for code (not concept) specific material, anything older is already outdated’. Patrick Smith corroborates that it helps if you work out how to break the problems down. Then you can find what you need step by step, instead of searching for a magic bullet document, in a process where you’re probably not learning much either. Use keywords! Learn how all the little pieces work, then try and put them together.

Another cool tip he has is to find open source projects that use what you want to use. It’s a neat way to see the approach that more advanced programmers have taken.

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