I get lots of messages online regarding approaching web development as a code newbie. How to get started? What resources to use? What path to follow? And many more similar questions.
As a result, this article aims to answer the above questions and provide you with a starting point. It is important to note that the article illustrates one way. That does not mean there are no other ways or that this is the best way. Thus, the article is based on my experience and what I have observed in the tech community.
Where to start
I always recommend FreecodeCamp as the first resource for everyone. I, and many other developers, used to begin our web development journey because it is a practical and excellent resource. However, let us see some reasons why that is the case.
First of all, you learn to code online in their editor. That means you can learn to code without worrying about setting your machine for development. In the beginning, you want to focus solely on learning to code and not other distractions. That is what FreecodeCamp does - it allows you to focus on programming.
Secondly, it provides a clear path of progress. It starts with the basics, such as HTML and CSS, and it takes you to advanced security and quality assurance areas. The main point is that it takes you through all areas of web development - front and backend development, security, and many more.
Lastly, they have a YouTube channel where you can go in-depth on some subjects. If their online platform is not enough for you, you can supplement your learning with tutorials from their channel. For instance, let us say you want to learn NodeJS in-depth. You can go on their YouTube channel and find plenty of NodeJS tutorials.
Thus, looking at the above reasons, we can say that FreeCodeCamp is an excellent starting point. Be aware, though; this is not the only path. You can follow another way and become a developer.
Alternative or supplement
An alternative or a supplement to FreecodeCamp would be the Odin Project. It is similar to Freecodecamp because you can learn the topics you need to become a web developer.
You can choose between the following learning paths:
- Full Stack Ruby on Rails
- Front End Only
There is an overlap between these paths. For instance, you learn HTML, CSS, and Git in all courses.
Besides that, they have an active Discord community. That means you can join other people and get help when you are stuck. Or even help others. It is more enjoyable, easier, and less likely to give up when you are part of a community. Also, they do not have an online editor like FreecodeCamp. You work on your machine and use Git extensively. In other words, it mimics the workflow you use as a professional software developer.
Thus, The Odin Project is a great alternative or supplement to FreecodeCamp. You cannot go wrong with either. However, if the time allows, and it is not a mental burden, try to use both concomitantly.
What path to follow
No one can tell somebody what path to follow. For instance, if you want to become a FrontEnd developer, do it because you do it, not because someone tells you.
The reason I recommended FreecodeCamp is that it takes you through different areas of web development. As a result, you can experiment with which area you enjoy the most.
An important thing is not to start by trying to learn everything at once. For instance, rather than becoming a Fullstack Developer from the beginning, focus on one area only - Frontend or Backend. After a while, you can start learning the other area and become a Fullstack developer.
Both areas are complex on their own, let alone together. Trying to learn both as a beginner can be frustrating. Thus, learn one, and after you are comfortable with the chosen one, learn the opposite area.
What is next
I would go as far as saying that you are ready to apply for junior roles if you completed any of the mentioned platforms, especially if you finished both.
When companies are looking for junior developers, they are not necessarily looking for technical abilities. Companies are looking for people that have good soft skills and that are willing to learn. Thus, learn the basics and start applying to jobs. You can learn more while applying for jobs.
However, coming back to resources, I also recommend Frontend Masters. It is an excellent platform if you want to specialize in specific technologies - for example, React. The main reason why I recommend Frontend Masters is because the instructors are professional developers. Besides the obvious benefit of getting high-quality information, you see how a professional developer solves problems and the development environment. Overall it is a great platform, and you can read more about it here.
I want to emphasize once again that the article represents my viewpoint. That does not mean what is presented in the article is the only way or the best way. If I would start again, I would definitely use FreecodeCamp and The Odin Project to learn web development.
Thus, to recap:
- Use a free platform like FreecodeCamp or The Odin Project or both.
- Choose an area of web development - either front end or back end.
- Once you are comfortable with the chosen area, look at the other one if you want to become a full-stack developer.
Catalin publishes programming and software development articles on his blog.