Learning to Code: Language Overviews

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 Make a Website and then Learn HTML and Learn CSS.

Check out our Build Websites from Scratch Pro Intensive to learn everything you'd need and want to know how to build static websites from scratch all in 10 weeks!

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 Web pages 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 Introduction to Javascript, Learn ReactJS: Part I, and Learn ReactJS: Part II and Learn 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.

Learn ReactJS: Part I & II presents graceful solutions to some of front-end programming's most persistent issues. It's fast, scalable, flexible, powerful, and has a robust developer community that's rapidly growing. 

If you're interested in applying these languages, you can take our Build Front-End Web Apps from Scratch Pro Intensive, an 8-week curriculum 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 Learn Python, Learn Ruby or Introduction to Javascript (it's ambidextrous).

Using a web framework, such as Learn Ruby on Rails or Learn 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!

For an in-depth understanding of how to build APIs from scratch in an 8-week curriculum, check out our Build Web APIs from Scratch Pro Intensive.

You can learn more about our Pro product offerings here.  

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