How should I think about learning to code?

This is a post by Eric Weinstein, Codecademy alumni and creator of many Codecademy courses.

There's a lot to learn when it comes to coding. How do you know where to start? Should you learn HTML or JavaScript? What's the difference between Python and Ruby? What are "client-side" and "server-side" languages, "front end" and "back end" and how are they different?

The best way of learning to code is to pick a project or challenge that excites you and then learn the tools that you'll need to build it.

Tools to Create and Edit Web Pages

If you're interested in creating a static website or a single web page, you should start with the Make a Website Course and then learn HTML and CSS.

HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language and describes the structure of web pages.

CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets, and controls their appearance — for example, the font color or the position of text on the page.

Tools to Make Webpages Interactive

If you want to give your website behavior—think automatic Twitter updates, your Facebook notifications, or the ability to drag and drop elements of your LinkedIn profile—then you'll want to learn JavaScript and jQuery.

JavaScript is a "front end", or "client-side" language which means it runs on the web browser of the person visiting your site.  

jQuery is a library - a helpful set of specific JavaScript tools designed to make website interaction more awesome.

If you're interested in applying these languages, you can take a look at the Build an Interactive Website course, which will show you how Javascript and jQuery interact with HTML and CSS.

Tools to Store User Information in a Database

If you want to develop a full-blown web app that lets users log in and saves information for them (such as tweets, Facebook posts, or Codecademy badges), you'll want to learn a backend, or "server-side" language like PHP, Python, Ruby or JavaScript (it's ambidextrous).

Using a web framework, such as Ruby on Rails or AngularJS will allow you to practice creating a link from a web app to a database and managing the data.  

These languages run on the computer where the website code lives, also called the server. You can accomplish the same things and build the same kinds of projects with each of them, so go ahead and pick your favorite!

If you would like personalized advice on what courses to take based on your goals, you might be interested in chatting with one of our learner Advisors who will work with you to define a customized learning path. You can learn more about our Pro product offerings here.  

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