I read with great interest a recent TechCrunch article from a developer named Basel Farag. In "Please Don't Learn to Code," the author makes a compelling case as to why courses and bootcamps for everyday people to learn programming aren't all they're cracked up to be.
In a lot of ways, I agree with Basel.
Not everyone is cut out to be an engineer or programmer.
And as with so many professions, there's a big difference between playing a few coding games to learn the basics and becoming a professional. It's problematic when someone who lacks a certain depth of knowledge or experience accepts the responsibility to complete a task they aren't qualified to do.
On that, we agree.
But I have to take exception with this statement from the first paragraph of that article:
"Everyone should learn to code. But here's the problem with that idea: Coding is not the new literacy."
In his explanation of why learning to code doesn't make one a programmer, Basel missed a very important point: Not everyone wants to be a programmer.
Coding has so many incredibly useful, important applications in many facets of business and marketing.
Take, for example, the entrepreneur who has funding to hire just two programmers for her startup. How is she to evaluate the expertise and experience of those programmers without some basic understanding of what it is they do?
Or consider the small local business owner who's finally hired his first marketing firm. They've set him up with a great content management system (CMS), but it would be so much more cost and time efficient for him to make some of the smaller website changes he finds himself needing from time to time if he could just do it himself.
Heck, my entire pay-per-click (PPC) software company sprung from a piece of software I built for myself to automate some of the repetitive tasks I had to do in PPC advertising consulting.
Here are just a few of the business reasons people learn how to code:
- As Steve Jobs famously said, coding teaches you how to think and solve problems.
- You can do more for yourself online, which is a huge plus for cash-strapped startups.
- Communication with programmers and IT improves as you can speak their language and understand their challenges.
- You'll gain more and better insight into product development.
- You'll have a better understanding of the increasingly technology-driven world around you (and your company).
- It makes evaluating software and apps you might use in your business easier, and your insights more meaningful.
- You just might develop your own timesaving, automated solutions to make life easier.
Let's rid ourselves of the idea that only geeks and techies need to learn how to program--it's just not true.
Coding isn't trendy or some kind of fad. It's the language that drives much of our world today, from the wearable devices we're now sporting, to the tools we use in the workplace, to the smart appliances in our homes.
Coding IS the new literacy.
Today, we're going to look at ingenious ways to learn programming in 15 minutes or less per day: with coding games and apps.
Gamification makes learning fun, regardless of your age, and you can use apps on the go whenever you have time, from your mobile device.
Videos, quizzes, and expert instruction by programmers from Google, Facebook, and other major companies make this a valuable app. Download it free for Android from Google Play.
Designed with graphics for kids but great for people of all ages, Tynker uses puzzles to teach coding basics, then lets users build their own games. Get the app from iTunes.
A $25 subscription gets you access to as many Lynda.com courses as you can handle, and they have apps for all kinds of devices. These courses are great for time-pressed people, as you can do what you can when you can, and pick up later where you left off.
Swifty for iPhone offers over 200 bite-sized tutorials across 14 chapters on learning Swift.
Javvy is another resource designed specifically with the time-crunched, mobile learner in mind. It's available for both Android and iOS and includes over 150 short and sweet Java tutorials you can do on the subway or at coffee break.
I like this app for its split-screen setup, which shows you what it is you're trying to do in one section and the code required to make it happen in the other.
One of the more popular coding games out there, Code Combat is designed for groups of learners. Useful in the classroom or the workplace, it has courses for all ages on specific languages as well as computer sciences as a whole.
Once you're getting comfortable with the basics, challenge yourself to achieve coding mastery with real-life challenges against other programmers!
Coding games and programming apps make it simple and even fun to learn how to code, regardless of your age, time constraints, or location.
Do you have a personal favorite? Share it in the comments below for other Inc.com readers!