Whether you just want to be able to hack a few scripts or make a feature-rich application, writing code can be a little overwhelming with the massive amount of information available. Here are some resources to help get you started.
Learn the Basics
Before you click any other links on this page, you should read our Programmer 101 Guide so you can get acquainted with the basics. One of the first pieces of advice in the guide is to avoid getting hung up on choosing a programming language. Nonetheless, if you’re having any trouble making a decision we asked our code-savvy readers for suggestions awhile back and that’s a good resource for help. If you’re looking to make web applications, you should take a look at our guide on building a web site from scratch with no experience as well.
Where else can you go for more information? We’re fond of Lynda, but it’s a little pricey at $30. Still, it’s a great resource for picking up a few new skills and you can pack quite a bit into a single month. Alternatively, there are a surprising number of resources on iTunes U that are available for free. Apple shares many of its videos from past years at the Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC), plus there are courses available on iPhone development and more. If you’re looking into ActionScript programming, one of my favorite resources is Lee Brimelow’sgotoAndLearn. It contains numerous tutorials that show you how to make all sorts of neat things and learn several great new techniques.
Choosing Frameworks and Helper Libraries
Learning to code doesn’t mean you need to use a programming framework, but it can make your life a lot easier once you know what you’re doing. Before you even start looking at frameworks, however, you should understand the Model-View-Controller (MVC) design pattern. This is the pattern frameworks generally follow and eNode has a great overview of MVC to help you better understand it.
One of the most popular frameworks in recent time (that happens to follow MVC) isRuby on Rails. Ruby is a comfortable language that feels a little bit more like writing English and less like writing code. This may or may not be appealing to you, but it’s nonetheless very capable and a good place for a lot of people to start. Rails, however, is meant to scale for larger web applications and isn’t always the best choice for less ambitious projects.
Even CSS has frameworks, since CSS is a bit of a mess these days, and our favorite is Blueprint.
Finally, if you’re thinking of making a simple game, ActionScript is a good language to learn. Flixel and Flashpunk can be very helpful in your game development and are worth a look.
Starting Your First Project