I’ve heard too many people say, “I wish I knew how to code!” recently, and my response is always the same. You can learn, for free, and before you know it you’ll be looking back in a few months and find yourself coding on a regular basis. It’s not rocket science and there are more solid (i.e. actually good) free tutorials online to get you started than ever before.
What I think gets some people overwhelmed is trying to figure out what programming language they want to learn and why…so I’ll break it down for you and in my biased opinion, tell you which language to learn based on what you want to do.
Frontend vs. Backend
The difference between these two words is where I find most people get stuck, which is right for you? First, what the heck do each of these terms mean?
Backend development usually means learning languages like Python, Java, Node.js, etc. and writing code that runs using a compiler or interpreter. You can also hear people associating “server-side” with backend.
A developer might argue that my definitions above are too broad but I want to keep it simple since making it longer or more complex only increases the complexity for you to get started.
So which is right for you?
Here’s the question I usually ask people. Do you want to :
- build web pages or visual user interfaces the people can interact with through a browser
- write programs that processes or do something cool with data (text or numbers, or both!)
If you’re gravitating towards #1, start with Frontend. If #2 is calling you start with Backend.
Okay, so which language should you learn?
This is where I’m going to let my own personal bias make your decision process a lot easier. Don’t worry, I’ll back it up with some data below.
Oh and like I said, you can learn for free and honestly if you spend a few hours this week going through one of these free tutorials, you will be able to start coding on your own, writing your own unique programs this month. So here are the two completely free tutorials that I recommend:
Backend/Python – https://www.codecademy.com/learn/learn-python
Okay, but why Python?
Unlike Frontend, there are actually a lot of choices out there when it comes to go-to backend languages for people. C/C++ were a mainstay for a long time, then Java came and stole the spotlight, and over the last few years Python has emerged as the fastest growing programming language, i.e. more people are adopting Python than any other backend languages. Normally top Computer Science departments have used either Java or C++ as their go-to language, now many are moving to Python (read more here).