Growing up I was just a regular boy. I was never good at science or maths. I like to break things apart, but I wont call myself a tech nerd. So how did a regular guy like me turn into a programmer, coding things from scratch?
Let's be honest here, programming is not that easy. It takes discipline and repeated effort to code something on your own, build a thing which actually works. I never thought someday I would turn into a web developer and actually code in this weird language.
Please note: I am using the words “coding”, “development”, and “programming” interchangeably in this article, although they all have very different meanings. But you get the point!
When I get the chance to talk to people who are new to code, it reminds me how it felt when I was just starting out.
Some time ago, I met this guy at a conference. It was not a developer conference, it was more like a marketing one. While talking with him, he learned about my web development work and how I became a self taught web developer.
Knowing that, he expressed to me that he can never ever learn to code:
“You know Tamal bro, I can never learn how to code. I just don't get it!”
So instead of comforting him by saying how everyone can code, how easy it is and all that, I told him:
“You are right, you won't get it. I was just like you many years ago when I just couldn't understand all the code.”
“HTML code looked like Chinese text to me.”
“All I did was just copy and paste bunch of codes and put it all together.”
“But as I built many websites, I slowly started to get it.”
Hearing my words gave him comfort, and I think after that day he will see programming in a different light.
When I got started into building websites, I came across all the free resources like blogs, tutorials and W3Schools. But I didn't even had the skill to read and learn from the documentation.
For me it took a while to condition myself into a programming mindset to finally understand how to code things.
It didn’t happen magically just by watching a few tutorial videos or completing a course. The real journey was different. To help you track how I got so far, here is a quick highlight of my learning over the years:
- Early days: I used website builders and MS FrontPage to build websites. Used Flash to create interfaces.
- Blogger/blogspot days: Copy pasted code from various places to design sites.
- WordPress days: Used little HTML & PHP code to change various design elements. Once again, I copy pasted from the web.
- Thesis theme days: I used the Thesis Theme to build designs. Learned little CSS to customize the websites but most of it was copy-pasta.
- WordPress themes: Built my first WordPress theme and got it approved to the theme directory. This is when I started to call myself a real web developer.
As you can see, I spent a long time just copy and pasting bunch of code from the internet.
Taking formal courses gave me a bird eye view over the subject but it did not instantly turned me into a pro. It took repeated effort and practice to master various things.
Now I see my learning curve is getting shorter. I am learning new technology faster as I practice more.
So if there is anything you can take from my story: everyone learns differently. If you want to do this kind of thing, give it a shot. If you really love to program, you will learn it eventually (no matter how long it takes).