Can You Really Learn to Code in a Day?

14/05/2012 13:35 | Updated 13 July 2012

Over the past few months, I've been trying to learn how to code without much progress. What I mean by this is that I haven't actually taken coding off the browser. Even though I've been doing exercises on Coursera, Codeschool and Codecademy, I haven't really attempted to create HTML, CSS or Javascript files locally in order to create a decent project. Part of it is due to not having invested much time in researching what text editor to use, but part of it is also the fear that I would just waste my time because I'm certain that I'm going to get stuck somewhere.

However, this all changed when I attended a Decoded workshop. Decoded is a one day coding workshop that teaches you the basics of HTML, CSS and Javascript. While the Decoded team acknowledges that coding can seem complex at first glance, they believe that everyone can learn how to code when taught in a user friendly and fun manner. I found it quite hard to believe that one can 'learn to code' in a day so I just had to attend a Decoded session to find out.

The Decoded workshop is facilitated by a programmer accompanied with very technically inclined non-programmer, and both are really eloquent and friendly. The day began with an interesting introduction to coding which encompasses what code is, where it came from and where it's going. Following this was a session introducing HTML, CSS and Javascript, which is basically a crash course on what those 3 languages are, how they work and how you would write them. Although the talks were delivered assuming zero prior knowledge, they were so fast-paced and kept all of us fully engaged with the topics at hand. Before I knew it, my stomach was grumbling for food.

Before breaking for lunch, we were asked to propose a business which would benefit from a web application that has geolocation capabilities in preparation for the afternoon's task. It's also worth mentioning that lunch was really great - and it wasn't pizza if that's what you were wondering.

After lunch, we started coding on Macbook Airs using a text editor. It was a really interactive and fun session where we were told to do some basic HTML, CSS and Javascript. We were asked to do a web application for the business that we picked, but we were also given the liberty to start experimenting if we wanted to.

Afterwards, we left our screens to gather as a group and figure out how to integrate geolocation functionality into our web application and translate it into code. The facilitators told us that a big part of coding actually involves problem solving and research before typing out lines of code. By the end of that group huddle, we've broken down how to integrate geolocation functionality into small steps and had proposed several solutions to each step, solving the problem as a whole.

Obviously, the next step was going back to our screens and typing out the lines of code which we thought would work. As expected, there were quite a few errors and bugs in our code, so we also got a fair taste of debugging. The facilitators were extremely helpful during this part of the session because they helped us identify where the error was and helped us realize the mistakes we made. At the end of the day, we toasted to our newly made web applications accompanied by a very gratifying sense of accomplishment.

Overall, I thought that Decoded was extremely helpful in getting myself to actually try to code. The concepts, theories and tools that they introduced would have probably taken me another 4 months of googling to discover had I not attended the workshop. So, can you learn to code in a day? Yes! I'm confident that if I spent more time with the text editor and the resources provided, I would be able to make a simple web application with some functionality on my own. I won't be employable as a programmer, but I'd be able to do a personal project more confidently.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone who wants to learn how to code but doesn't know where to start. Even if you don't plan on becoming a programmer, this course will still be extremely useful because you'd get to experience the programming mindset for a day and know the bare basics of code.