Coding again: CodeCademy

I’ve been using CodeCademy this week. It’s a web package that lets you learn a whole variety of coding languages by doing exercises and seeing what happens! I was warned that it might annoy me, but it’s also considered a very good learning platform, so – I had a go!

It did annoy me. But it’s also a very good learning platform. So…best of both worlds, I guess?

I’ve got a number of languages on my list; HTML/CSS, Sass (a type of CSS), Javascript, JQuery, Command Line, and also Git & website uploading. Obviously, I already know HTML and CSS – and those were the bits that were very frustrating! Yes, I know how to write a table. Yes, I know how to change fonts, and WHY ARE YOU HARD CODING COLOURS SERIOUSLY DON’T DO THAT.  Argh. CodeCademy also has a mix of practical exercises and then projects, which allow you to use your skills in a more free-form environment. However, the HTML/CSS ones are incredibly repetitive; I like some of the others as they’re more structured to what I just learned, but to be asked to put a background image on for the fifth time…BLEG.

I’m currently on Javascript, which I’m finding hard as my brain just doesn’t get the logic of the language, but I love Sass – it’s essentially a shortcut way of writing CSS and it looks wonderful. I’m also halfway through Command Line, which lets you move around/create/delete files on your computer without using the mouse or clicking through folders, so that’s useful to know even if I won’t use it.

There are bugs in the platform; you can’t vary your techniques (so I got caught out on the HTML/CSS one a few times, as the way I’d do something wasn’t the way they wanted me to do it) and the error messages can be frustratingly vague when it comes to working out what I’d done wrong. I’d really appreciate a crib sheet or some way of just getting reminded about commands, too; if I’ve learned something literally two minutes before, I may just need a reminder of exactly how to spell it – and not the answer given to me! The platform bugs are probably the most annoying part; several of the CSS and Sass pages wouldn’t work unless I had Chrome on 60% zoom, despite a comment from others that they needed it on 100%.

Anyway. Essentially, if you like step-by-step tutorials, it’s a good learning tool. It doesn’t provide useful help – I could really use a crib sheet or a reminder tool rather than the Q&A forum or ‘assistant’ who I’m not sure how to contact – and it has some frustrating usability bugs. But overall, if you want a basic grounding in the languages, give it a try. It’s free for a basic version, and worth using to see if you get on with it!