1.06 Next steps and getting started with coding

Aim: To discuss the next steps in getting started with coding.

Topics covered:

  • How should I choose a language?
  • What do I need to be able to code?
  • Where can I find more resources?

Next steps

Now that we have gone over some of the core features of programming and scripting languages, I would recommend getting stuck into a bit of coding. Keep reading and let’s put into practice some of the things we have discussed.

Choosing a language

Choosing a language is a crucial decision for a project. The technology and built-in or 3rd-party libraries associated with a language can be the difference between a failed or delayed project and a successful project delivered on time.

Having said that, at this point in the learning process, the language is less important. In fact I would recommend trying out a few different languages, and see where their strengths and weaknesses lie.

If you are unsure where to start, then I would go for one of the following:

  • A DOS batch script
  • A Shell script (such as BASH)
  • VBScript
  • Javascript

These are all fairly mainstream and have plenty of resources available online.

Getting started with coding

Most languages could be developed in notepad or a similarly simple text editor, but I recommend going for a more advanced text editor (that at least has syntax highlighting) such as Notepad++.

Some languages such as the .net family have a specific Integrated Development Environment (IDE) that is typically used. In the case of .net it is Visual Studio.

For other languages such as Java there are a large number of IDEs to choose from, however if you do a few searches you will generally find the more actively developed and feature-rich IDEs. For Java, I would recommend Eclipse, but there is also a large camp backing Netbeans.

Some languages also need compilers and/or interpreters. Language specific books and sites will be able to help further with this.

For each of my suggested scripting languages above, Notepad++ or similar should suffice.

Other resources

If you can’t find what you need here, then send us a message and we will consider expanding our posts. In the mean time, there are many other great resources out there.

I have a few resources that I use daily in my work and research:

Other search engines are available, but frankly, I don’t use them. Feel free to Bing it, Yahoo it, or whatever you prefer, but I can’t stress this enough… If you want to do something new, or you have a problem, then look it up online. The chances are that you won’t be the first, and you could save countless hours by giving it a quick search.

Books are an excellent resource that can enhance the learning experience. They can also provide fantastic reference material. Unfortunately the static nature of books and the ever changing nature of Information Technology (IT) can mean that IT books go out of date really quite quickly. Take a look at our ‘book reviews‘ section if you are interested in starting or enhancing your library.

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