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What it takes to be a top coder

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We take a look at a few key tips to help aspiring coders get a foot in the door.

Codecademy: Beginner-friendly learning for free
Codecademy offers a range of browser-based interactive tutorials about CSS, HTML, JavaScript, and more. All of its courses are free. If you want more than just a quick course, you can opt for one of four “tracks” (structured learning pathways spanning several courses).
I tested Codecademy with an accessible, sensibly structured beginner-level course called Getting Started With Programming that let me skip ahead when I already knew the material being covered. The site also lets expert programmers create their own courses for teaching aspects of JavaScript, Python, and Ruby, all for free.

Code School: Where video meets code
Unlike Codecademy, Code School charges users a fee of $25 per month – though the site does offer a few free courses, too, including a Git tutorial and a Ruby on Rails programming course called Rails for Zombies (zombies included).

The Git tutorial requires no programming knowledge, and you can complete it in a few moments. It requires setting up a real (free) GitHub account, and pushing a repository to that account. Code School’s Git tutorial doesn’t have any videos, but the text is clear, and the design is pleasant and distraction-free.

The more-complex Rails for Zombies tutorial includes videos followed by practical exercises. It assumes a higher level of initial knowledge than the tutorials at Codecademy and Rubymonk do, and it doesn’t let you skip ahead: you must complete each level before moving to the next one. You can download the videos and review them as you do the exercises. The course is very fast-paced, and it can become frustrating at times.

The Neo tools: Ruby Koans and Git Immersion

Neo (formerly EdgeCase) offers two free interactive tutorials, one for the Ruby programming language and one for the Git version control system. Like Code School, these tutorials assume that students already possess a bit of coding knowledge.
You can step through Ruby Koans either in a browser or by installing Ruby and downloading the koans. Each koan is a simple drill requiring you to fill in the blanks to get an expected result.

The texts accompanying each exercise attempt to be Zen-like, and they succeed in this to the extent of sometimes being more confusing than helpful: “To understand reality, we must compare our expectations against reality. The answer which you seek: is not true.” Still, if you have some programming background and wish to learn Ruby syntax quickly, the koans can be fun.

Neo’s Git tutorial, Git Immersion, is more extensive than the quick Code School alternative, but it also requires more setup. You must install Git on your machine to step through the tutorial, which doesn’t interactively check your work as you step through it.

RubyMonk: For Ruby beginners

RubyMonk is a simple, free Ruby course with built-in code evaluation and exercises. It assumes a modest level of initial knowledge, such as knowing what an array is.
The explanations accompanying each RubyMonk exercise are simple and clear, and the site is free of banners and other distractions from learning.

Snap your fingers and get coding
These tools are just the thing for setting your own pace and learning by doing. Together, they become an entire magical laboratory. Just cruise over to any of the links and start crafting your code. The results can be spellbinding.

 

 

Originally published on PC World (US). Click here to read the original story. Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2022 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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