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2,862 Tutorials

Use Codeacademy to learn Javascript

Learning to program can be fun, and free

For most of us the only interaction we have with the mysterious languages of computers are when they flash unexpectedly onto our screens, usually accompanied by a blue background and the sound of gnashing teeth. Graphical user interfaces (GUIs) and the touchscreen revolution have done an excellent job of making our relationships with machines more intuitive, while devices such as the ubiquitous iPad seem to be ushering in an age of elegant consumption rather than creation.

But what if you want to do more than just experience what others have made? What if you want to build something? Maybe it’s time to peak behind the curtain and learn a little coding.

Running a program you wrote yourself and seeing the results play out as you hoped they would is a truly satisfying experience. Who hasn’t, when presented with the now rare sight of a command line prompt, wanted to type 10 Print “Hello World”, 20 Goto 10? It’s almost compulsory. Global salutations aside, though, there are more practical applications to coding.

Say you’re putting together a website and you find a template or style that you like but it’s missing a key element? If you understand a basic level of HTML or Javascript then you can simply adjust the code and in no time at all your site is fully functional. What’s more, there’s a part of you in there too.

For the DIY types there are other exciting possibilities. The recent release of the Raspberry Pi, a £25 basic computer built to encourage people to learn how to code, caused havoc as the initial 10,000 units were sold out within minutes, nearly melting the company’s servers in the process. Those lucky enough to get one were planning on creating media centres, classic games devices, and even radio controlled cars. All held together by a little code and some big imagination.

Of course learning programming languages can be an intimidating prospect, but thankfully there are people who are determined to make it easier. Codecademy (www.codecademy.com) runs an interactive site that has free lessons in Javascript. Javascript is one of the most useful website-related languages, and one that’s also ideal for beginners. The lessons take you from a complete beginner to a seasoned veteran. We're on hand to help you explore this brave new world and, hopefully, encourage you to take those first few steps.

Get started with Codeacademy

1. Go to Codeacademy's website  and set up an account to keep track of your progress. You can either use an email address or link to your Facebook account, which in turn will post your achievements for all your friends to see.

 Create account

2. To begin your coding adventures simply follow the instructions in the lefthand window. After a few basic tasks such as inputting your name and doing simple mathematics you’re awarded your first badge and can now move to the first real exercise.

First piece of code

NEXT PAGE: Create a dialog box and more

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