Our Intro to Code series at CodeSLO is a twelve-part class that meets in person twice per month for two hours. Most of the classes are already full to capacity but don’t be afraid to jump on the waitlist. People’s plan change and spots can and will open up between now and when the class is held. You can join the waitlist (or fill an increasingly rare open slot) right on our Meetup Page.
Even if you aren’t able to get in, either because nothing opens up or because our meets don’t work with your schedule or because you don’t live close enough to San Luis Obispo, don’t worry. As it turns out, there’s no way to get a solid foundation in any kind of software development in only twelve, two-hour classes. That means most of the learning in our series is done outside of class!
Our intention is to create a post like this for each class. We’ll tell you what you missed, and we’ll point you to the same online resources and give you the same homework that the people in class get. Between that and our discussion board you should be good to go.
Here’s how these posts will work: First, we’ll talk about what we covered in class. Then, we’ll give you a list of resources that will go over essentially the same material that we went over in person, including the original slides. In fact, don’t be surprised if the resources we link to in these posts actually dive a bit deeper into the material than our presentations do. Ready? Okay, let’s go.
In our first class, we heard from two guest speakers: SoCreate CEO Justin Couto and longtime CodeSLO member Eric Broberg. Justin gave us a talk about the local tech industry from the point of view of a CEO. He talked about the difficulties in finding new talent – IE Software Developers – in the area, and he reassured everyone in the room that all of them has the talent and intelligence to be successful in this industry. That being said, he also emphasized that learning to code is difficult. He told everyone that they would get stuck regularly not only while they were learning but even after they’d started writing code for a living. He described coding as a continuous process of learning. According to Justin, “You have to be willing to hit your head against that wall all day long, and still come back to work the next morning excited, because today might be the day you figure out the problem you’re working on.”
Our next speaker was Eric Broberg. Eric, a professional software developer, told us his own very inspiring story of learning to code. He began by asking the people in class who were brand new to not only coding but to tech in general to raise their hands, and quite a few people did. He then informed them that two years ago, he was in exactly that same place. You see, Eric began his coding journey as a gardener and manual laborer and learned the basics of web development right here with CodeSLO. He then went on to describe the various roadblocks he hit, not only with learning to code but with trying to find work once he’d reached a decent skill level many months later. He described the process of qualifying for the coding boot camp Hack Reactor and the difficulties he had with their admittance exam. Then he talked a bit about the very intense experience of attending Hack Reactor once he did qualify. His story was really once of perseverance and hard work.
I think my favorite quote from Eric was this: “When I was looking at Hack Reactor’s website, I saw a testimonial that said something like ‘I was a manual laborer, and now I earn a six-figure salary as a software engineer.’ I was like, ‘that’s impossible.'” The line got a big laugh from the audience because, in fact, that is exactly the transformation Eric pulled off in under two years.
We then talked a bit about the tools we’d need, which were just a text editor and the Chrome web browser. We downloaded the CodeSLO recommended editor Visual Studio Code.
From there we dove into our first web development technology: HTML. We learned that HTML is what defines the content of a website, such as text and images. We learned how to create HTML tags and we wrote our first “hello world” web page.
From there we learned about how to add images and links, and then we started on our first project! Throughout all this, we heard (repeatedly) that the only way to learn to code was by writing code. We were told that in order to learn we needed to write code every day, preferably for at least an hour.
And that was it!
Now here are the links we promised.
Here are a series of video lessons on how computers and the Internet work. These videos are very short. If you do the first twelve that should be plenty.
Here is a link to a Codecademy course that will introduce you to HTML and CSS. This ended up required homework for the class so don’t skip it!
Here is a link to the slides from the class.
For homework, you’ve got a few assignments:
- Download Visual Studio Code, and the Chrome Browser (if you don’t already have it.) Approximate time: 15 minutes
- Watch this video on how to use Visual Studio Code. Approximate time: 10 minutes
- Do the Codecademy course on HTML and CSS linked above. Approximate time: 7 Hours
- Using Visual Studio Code, open a new HTML file and do your best to duplicate this HTML only website. Make sure you get both pages! The “resources” link at the bottom of the first page takes you to the second. Save the file to your local computer and open it with the Chrome browser. You’ll know you’re done when your site is identical to the original. Approximate time: 2 hours.
- Try to build one or two projects on your own, using the skills you picked up on Codecademy. Don’t be afraid to go deeper than we did in class, the whole idea is to challenge yourself.
Remember, try to code for an hour a day. When you first start learning, it is very easy to forget all this new information. If you get stuck, hit us up on our discussion board or use online resources like the Mozilla Developer Network.
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