The first tool every beginner should know to start off in development is github. The easiest way to familiarize yourself with this tool is to start by creating a github account. This is an important first step because you will begin to see the way the development community works. You write a program. You post it in github. You share it with the world. It’s all very scary and weird considering the way most of us were educated which is you turned in your paper where only your teacher ever saw it and gave you feedback. It was considered rude (or unethical) to look at someone else’s work. Receiving feedback from only your teacher was both a blessing and a curse. In some ways it was clear and easily understood because you knew who the authority was. The question is, does it lead to higher quality work? Doubtful. The difficulty in github is that as someone new to tech, it’s hard to know who the authority is. I’ll tell you. It’s you. Sure, you’ll want to get feedback on your work and learn from those who have been there before, but the best thing you can do is to understand why you are making the decisions you are making.
Your first program is likely to be a “hello world” program. It’s a standard code that most entry level resources take a new developer through. It’s a bit of a rite of passage so I encourage you to embrace it and create a “hello world” program as your first one. Once you’ve developed that initial program, share it. The way to really understand the tools and systems around development is to use them. This might make you feel uncomfortable or like someone will judge you. It’s doubtful, but it really doesn’t matter if they do. This is the process. The faster you get used to it. The better off you will be because your learning will not be inhibited by your fear of judgement. You will be free to continue to learn and grow into the developer you desire to be.
The next tool a newbie developer will want to know is codepen.io. Similar to github, it’s a great way to share code. Different, however, is that codepen.io has an enhanced user interface creating helpful segmentation of code (e.g., JS, HTML, CSS). The tool is great for building extensive programs, or testing out a segment of code to identify pitfalls. You can also easily share your code with others. This is important because the way to get answers to your questions is to share a code snippet and ask a very specific question. Once you do that, you’ll be on your way to developing thoughtful understanding about your code.
Let’s review. By diving right into the practice of code you will begin to build your knowledge-base. It’s okay if your knowledge-base includes only a “hello world” application. Developers understand that everyone starts at this point. This is accepted practice. You will need help from those in the field just a little a head of you. Identifying them can be hard so take your time. Understand that if you someone tells you your question is “basic” or not appropriate for that platform. That’s okay. You are just misaligned with who are you are asking and where you are at. “Google it” is a frequent (rude) response, but don’t take it too personally. They are just saying, you can look this up and it’s not interesting of a problem for me. If you have looked it up and couldn’t find the answer, you should mention that in your post. You should also include a link to your code. This is the most important part of understanding the developer ecosystem. Sharing your code is your key into the doorway to a community of developers that will help you on your tech journey.
Not all of these tools are equally important. You will likely use all three, but what you use them for is different. Understanding that difference will accelerate your learning. W3schools is an area where you learn new skills by trying out very small pieces of code. Codepen.io allows for larger snippets of code and even whole programs. To create a portfolio to get hired as a developer, however, github is the tool for that job. It’s a hard thing to visualize, but if you think about it like building blocks it becomes clearer. The beginning learning happens on w3schools. You then begin to build your skills on codepen.io and you demonstrate job-ready code on github. Why then did I start with github? Because the sooner you can learn to transfer knowledge from learning to demonstrated skill, the faster you can accelerate your getting hired time.
So while w3schools is at the bottom of the learning foundation, creating a github account is the literal first step to take.