Imagination is more important than knowledge.

18th July 2018

How to Grow as a Programmer

I’ve had it happen to me quite a lot over my professional life, but it seems to be happening a lot more frequently lately. Of course I’m talking about people getting into contact with me and asking how they can go about learning how to code. I suppose it looks cool when they catch a glimpse of a coder’s screen and the indented lines of code against a black notepad background look like something out of a Hollywood movie featuring a rapid-typing hacker of some sort – well as cool as a geek typing code can look, I guess…

That’s when they’re asking me about getting into programming as beginners of course, but I mention this alongside the main discussion topic of this post, which is how to grow as a programmer, simply because the approach is pretty much the same. So how to you grow as a programmer or what is the best way to go about your approach if you’re trying to learn how to code?

Find a project to work on

Apart from it being something like a career choice as a result of some practicality considerations, often there is a reason why anyone would want to learn how to code in the first place. I know that as a kid growing up I wanted to one day learn how to make my own games, which is something I’m not too keen on anymore, but that is indeed a good example of why someone would want to learn how to code.

So you must find a project which you want to work on – identify something you want to build.

Research similar projects and solutions

Once you’ve identified a programming project you want to work on, like perhaps create your own membership website, develop a mobile app, etc, your next step should be to do some simple research which would entail taking a look at similar projects to the one which you want to work on. Check out how they work and what their core functionality is. This is important because you then have a reference point from the real-world market.

Go through the theory

Next, you’re going to learn Computer Science by studying the theory, but this will naturally be done with the use of a specific programming language which corresponds to what you want to build. With my example of wanting to learn how to create my own games, that would perhaps have been C++ (I was thinking desktop games back then) or perhaps even Java.

You’ll be learning the LAMP stack (Php, MySQL, HTML, etc) if you perhaps want to create a membership website, etc.

Start building your solution (working on your identified project)

You don’t have to memorise all the syntax of the programming language you’ve chosen to learn the principles of Computer Science with, but once you’ve gone through the theory then you should go ahead and start building your solution. The mind of a programmer grows in this way in that you will constantly be going back to specific sections of the theory in order to write the right code for the specific procedure you want your solutions to achieve.

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