Doable Danny

What is the 100DaysOfCode Challenge?

-19 July 2020

A New Hope

In March 2020 I quit my job as Fry cook and began #100DaysOfCode. As of writing I have now completed 133 days of coding.

133 days ago I had no idea what language I wanted to learn, or where to find any useful resources, but I saw that freeCodeCamp.org offered what looked to be high quality interactive courses to learn programming completely free.

After some looking around, I also found something called 100DaysOfCode. The rules state: at least 1 hour of coding per day for 100 straight days - I thought this is exactly what I need to keep me committed.

I made a new account on twitter and began my journey with freeCodeCamp’s first certificate –responsive web development - learning HTML and CSS. HTML and CSS are pretty easy to learn, and if you practice for an hour every day, within a few months you’ll feel confident with them and be able to create some cool stuff. Here's the first thing I ever made using just HTML and CSS. Here's the second. And here's a load more!

Put succinctly, HTML creates text, input boxes, and buttons on a web page, and CSS is used to style (add color, borders, font, etc…) and position them.

Try writing the code above yourself on codepen!

Taking the Plunge to Proper Programming

After a few months getting the hang of HTML and CSS, the natural progression is to jump into JavaScript – a proper programming language!

From my personal learning experience, as well as seeing my 100DaysOfCode twitter friend’s journeys, learning JavaScript is the point where the self-doubt and frustration hits. This isn’t just the case for JavaScript, it will be the same for learning any proper programming language such as python, Java or C++. Programming is initially hard.

FreeCodeCamp’s second certificate teaches you JavaScript, and it can be tough for people with little to no programming experience (like myself at the time). But the supportive twitter community held me accountable and motivated, even on the days when I wondered why I’m even doing this.

Why's programming so tough for beginners? You have to think like a computer. Everything has to be accurately and logically constructed so that the computer can understand it. Any errors and the computer will be unforgiving, throwing out errors that you don’t even understand.

But after a few months of the computer beating you up, you come out the other side knowing that you’re capable. You become familiar with the commands, syntax and logic. You start making your own projects and seeing your own ideas come to life from the code that you wrote all by yourself. This is when I got hooked and knew that this is something I wanted to do for a living.

So Many Languages, but I Only Have Time for One...

If you’re like I was, and have no idea what language you want to learn, my advice would be to not spend too much time thinking about it and just make a start. When you start learning your first language, you’ll be learning programming concepts that are used by most other languages.

For example, learning JavaScript was a challenge for me, however, I am now learning python and almost all of the main concepts are exactly the same – strings, arrays, loops, and functions. I’m picking it up really quickly!

It helps to have an idea of why you want to learn code. If you want to become a web developer and make awesome websites, learn JavaScript. If you want to become a data scientist or learn machine learning, learn python. Want to program hardware such as writing a program that controls the speed of a motor? Learn C++. For desktop or android phone apps, learn Java.

If you have absolutely no idea, then I’d advise you to start with python or JavaScript, as you can do almost anything with them, are a little easier to learn than Java or C++, and have lots of free online learning material.

FreeCodeCamp is great for learning JavaScript and they have also just added four new quality python courses completely for free. I am currently learning python with their “python for everyone” course and am enjoying it a lot.

Here’s a video that will teach you how to install python and all the basics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfscVS0vtbw&t=334s. With this video you could get a good grasp of Python basics over a weekend!

As you can tell, I like freeCodeCamp, it forces you to code, is completely and always free, and has a huge community. Have a problem? It’s likely already been answered and is a Google away. But what about other resources?

Brad Traversy is the best teacher for web development that I’ve come across. Most of the stuff you will need is on his Youtube channel, but I was so impressed with his clear and well explained videos, that I purchased his 20 vanilla JavaScript proects course from Udemy for £11 (Udemy has very frequent discounts so don’t buy anything unless there is a discount on).

My twitter friend Antonio is learning JavaScript and recommends these teachers:

But you’ll soon find your favourite teachers from googling, youtubing, and the #100DaysOfCode twitter communities recommendations.

What is the 100DaysOfCode Challenge?

You can make a new twitter account specifically for it, using your real name or a nickname if you like, or you can just use the account you already have. It really doesn’t matter – just make a start! I made a new account using my real name, as that’s what felt most comfortable for me to get involved and share my journey with the twitter coding community.

Account made – now start coding. Share what you’ve done every day with #100DaysOfCode somewhere in your tweet, so fellow coders can see your tweet and give you a follow.

After just 4 months, I have 1200 followers and have made some amazingly supportive twitter friends.

Milan currently works full time and also has a baby to take care of, yet he still finds the time learn something new every day, even if its 20 mins of reading, very inspiring!

Josh started out around the same time as me, and has made amazing progress working most days towards his dream of becoming a web developer.

Anders is a very supportive member of the community who is now working on an app to make politics more accessible for the general masses.

Madalina has just purchased a raspberry pi and is thinking about building her own server.

Give them a follow, they’re cool people!

But who are the experts on twitter? Danny Thomson is possibly the most motivational guy on twitter, and tweets openly how programming saved him from frying chicken at a gas station every day, to becoming a happy and well-paid Java programmer.

Brad Traversy, Quincy Larsen (creator of freeCodeCamp), and Florin Pop are three great hard-working content creators to learn from. Kyle Prinsloo tweets and writes articles about freelancing as a web developer.

Learning code is a long process, but small victories and failures every single day for 100 days will get you a very long way indeed. Coding is for the long-haul, but twitter is full of people showing what can be achieved with small day after day achievements. This article is written on a blog that I coded up from scratch in 2 weeks using React (a JavaScript framework) and Gatsby (a site generator). What are you waiting for, get coding!

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