Written by Aaron Charlie– Thu 22 May 2014
We believe that the best way to learn is practical, face to face training with an expert on-hand to help solve any problems.
However, we recognise that not everyone is able to take the time off from work for classroom based training (especially if retraining for a new career).
We have scoured the web to find the best resources to help you learn to code for free online and at your own pace.
We also offer HTML & CSS workshops for beginners.
Codecademy is our favourite here at Silicon Beach. While some of the more advanced topics can be tricky to get through, there is a mini forum for each exercise which can be a lot of help.
However, try not to just use other people's solutions - you need to understand why your code is working. There is a lot of recapping which keeps everything you've learnt at the front of your mind.
Regular email prompts keep you coming back if you skip a day and there's an element of gamification with badges after completing exercises & goals.
Dash is similar to Codecademy in that you work through exercises to learn code but there is more of a visual focus. The examples they give for you to build look great which make you want to learn how to do it yourself!
One advantage for some people is that you can skip ahead, although personally this could be considered a disadvantage as really you need to understand everything before moving on.
There aren't that many exercises on Dash but enough to get you interested in a subject so that you can learn more.
Bento is a fantastic resource put together by Jon Chan, a web developer at Stack Overflow. IT provides a wide range of learning resources for every coding language you could possibly think of.
What I love about the site is that when you click on a skill, follow on skills are highlighted. This allows you to work through the skills you enjoy (or need to learn) in a logical order.
Not all the resources linked to are as good as each other, some are interactive courses like Codecademy but others are videos or tutorials. Still, you won't find a more comprehensive list of free coding resources anywhere on the web!
Runestone Interactive provides a series of interactive books focusing on learning Python.
If you only want to learn Python then this is probably your best place to start, especially if you are interested in computer science.
If you're new to programming then I recommend first completing 'How to Think Like a Computer Scientist'.
This format is ideal for those who prefer learning from a book but still want an interactive element.
The intro course focuses on drawing and animation which makes a change to the courses that are based on building websites and apps.
Perhaps a more interesting way into coding for some?
W3Schools is one of the most popular coding reference sites on the web as they rank highly for a lot of search terms.
For each language they provide a range of examples, tutorials & quizzes to help you learn.
You might want to use the quizzes to test your knowledge while using another learning resource.
They also offer certificates to demonstrate your knowledge, but these have come under scrutiny from members of the web development community as they don't hold much value and are not formally recognised as a qualification.
Aimed at younger users, but suitable for all ages, Code Avengers is a heavily gamified learning tool.
The entry level and format is ideal for anyone who is completely new to coding, but you might want to switch to another resource after a while.
The site offers only 75 tasks (out of 300+) for free so be aware of this before you invest time in the platform. If you want to keep using it you will have to upgrade.
Code School's courses are very video heavy which will work well for certain learners.
Each 'level' contains a video followed by a set of challenges to test your knowledge.
The site contains a mixture of free and paid courses which is off-putting for some, but the available free content is a great way to start learning due to a heavy focus on gamification and actually building stuff.
You earn points which you can spend to get hints and answers for challenges that have you stumped.
SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL, DB2, PostgreSQL
Want to learn about databases? SQLZOO has you covered with 10 sections for learning about SQL.
You won't be creating databases but you will learn how to manipulate your data with queries and functions.
Python, Web Servers, WordPress
Raspberry Pi has provided a cost effective way to get people interested in programming without having to spend huge amounts of money on computers.
You can do some amazing things with the little computer and Raspberry Pi has shared a selection of resources on their site to help you get started.
Try the intro to Python and then get stuck in with Minecraft and a Picamera.
If you're looking for a more exciting way to learn how to code (or want to get your kids interested) then Code Combat is for you.
There are a lot of coding games out there but most are aimed at a younger audience and teach problem solving more than actual coding skills.
It's a fun way to learn that takes gamification to the next level.
Working through an online course can be quite daunting and feel like a big commitment.
Tuts+ offers a huge amount of tutorials written by experts that allow you to dip in and out of different languages.
Because of the nature of the tutorials, most result in a finished thing that you've built - that can be a lot more rewarding than a badge for finishing a topic!
These are tutorials so there isn't much interaction, but some may prefer this learning method.
One of the problems with the huge range of guides, courses and tutorials available online is that it can be hard to know where to start and which languages work well together.
David Sinsky's post 'How I Taught Myself to Code in 8 Weeks' solves that problem.
David includes resources for learning Python and Django as well as exercises for building simple web applications.
What I like about the post is that you will be able to build something at the end and that it's based on real world experience.
As a final note, if you want to learn in your own time but prefer learning from a book then we highly recommend any books in the 'Learn Code the Hard Way' series.
Currently you can access all the books for free online:
The paid online versions of each book come with a huge amount of video content and you can also buy physical copies.
If you have a coding resource that you think belongs on this page then let us know and if we think it's good we'll add it to the list!
P.S. Don't forget that you can learn many of these languages in just 1 or 2 days with an intensive workshop at Silicon Beach Training. Call us on 01273 622272 to find out how we can help.
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