December 01, 2020. 3 min read
You probably have heard about this phrase:
To be a better developer, you must do many projects.
Well, if only it’s that easy. Especially for beginners who do not know how projects work!
Before we get to the actual tips, let’s revisit how we learn.
What do I mean?
Some of us learn the fundamentals of a subject before proceeding to the next phase. Likewise, some others learn by creating a complete project (while following a step-by-step video or guide) without knowing the fundamentals.
While each of these methods has its pros and cons, we will not discuss that in this article. It’s fine if either of the methods works for you.
However, here, I will show you the simple tips, if followed rigorously will not only fast track your learnings, but also help you retain what you have learned.
Good. Let’s go to the first tip.
Set a goal and pick what to learn
But if you are just getting started, making this decision would be tough because it is hard to figure out where to start. In this case, you’ll need to follow a well-structured curriculum. More on that later.
As you can see, there are a lot of things to learn.
So in order not to get overwhelmed and bored easily, you should only focus on one thing and leave out all other things outside of that.
Now, here comes the question, where should you start from?
This takes us to the next tip.
Follow a well-structured curriculum
Always avoid learning anything that comes your way. You have to follow a structured syllabus. If you attend a boot camp, you’d most likely follow a standard curriculum while learning. But being a self-taught developer, it’s your duty to find a standard structure to guide you through.
This ensures that you are not leaving out anything you should know on the subject.
One of my favorite methods is to take a look at the freeCodeCamp. They have a well-defined structure you can follow to be on the right path. If you want to take it further, you can also look at some of the online learning platforms like Udemy or Coursera for a structured syllabus. Mind you, the essence of this step is to have something to guide you throughout your learnings. Once you have a structured curriculum, get started and learn.
But… don’t get stuck in the tutorial hell. What do I mean? Let’s find out in the next tip.
Start with the fundamentals but don’t do an endless tutorial (simply get started with projects)
This step is very crucial as it decides your learning curve. You don’t want to be carried away with the lots of tutorials out there because you may get stuck in the tutorial hell if not careful.
This is a strange place where you unconsciously do lots of tutorials especially on a subject and never stop. You discover that no matter what, you always feel you are not good enough to start a real-world project.
Trust me, I’ve been there. So try to avoid it as the pit is so deep.
What is the way out?
Never read more than two materials or course on a subject (a good one is better). The essence is to understand the fundamentals. Once you do, discard it as soon as possible and start learning the rest on the job through projects.
Mind you, at the very beginning – i.e while studying the fundamentals, learn in such a way that you implement every bit of information you read. In other words, you must not proceed unless you put the knowledge into practice.
Now, you have a grasp of the basics. What next?
Start building stuff even if nothing works at first. You’ll discover that you learn more in the process than you would by following tutorials.
Though, it’s kind of scary because you might feel you are not good enough to start a project. Trust me, you are good to go. Just take the bold step and you will never regret it.
You can start by finding an open-source project on GitHub; scrutinize the source code to see how things are connected. This has a whole lot of benefit as you’ll get to see how every topics and sub-topics are connected to form a complete solution/ project.
This way, you get to appreciate what you have been learning. Thus having the urge to learn more. From there, you can start to think of a feature you can code. Start coding by writing what you know and get stuck. That is expected!
Next, you’d need to find your way out.
Knowing how to search for solutions
Trust me, if you spend years upon years following tutorials either by watching videos or reading guides, you will still come across problems if you are working on projects.
knowing how to come up with solutions is one of the great skills you’d need.
As said earlier, it is expected you get stuck while working on projects. So it’s your responsibility to find a solution to any problem you encountered.
Most of the time, Google and Stack Overflow are your friends. But you should always start with Google and see the options you have. You’ll be amazed how much knowledge you easily acquire doing this.
Get used to reading the documentation
Have you ever asked yourself that “why is so and so, so good in what they do”? The secret is that most of them get used to reading the documentation and as such have a grasp of the subject matter.
Just like every product comes with a manual, dev technologies and frameworks comes with their documentation. Though, it might be technical especially for beginners which is very understandable. But trust me, the earlier you are comfortable reading the doc, the better you are getting to the pick of your dev journey.
The advantage here is that you’ll get firsthand information from the creator which increases your knowledge and confidence on the subject.
Sometimes during your journey as a developer, you might have wondered if what you are doing is worth it. This is because it’s taken more time than you think to get things done. It’s completely normal. Don’t give up. Be yourself and learn at your own pace but be consistent.
Always remember, once you understand the basics, jump straight to applying your learnings through projects. Never wait until you accumulate enough knowledge.
In addition, if you can find a code buddy, please do to keep yourself motivated.
I hope you find these simple tips useful? Endeavour to share around the web. And if you have any tips you know that works for you, do share with us through the comment section.