When I started to program back on my C-64 I taught myself. It was a rough start as it was more of a hit and miss thing without books and Internet, but it worked out eventually as I had code examples and all that good stuff that helped me through the first hard weeks. Today, the situation has become much more relaxed, with an abundance of books and online resources available for programming languages of all sorts.
You obviously need to put some thought into what programming language you want to learn, but once that is out of the way, you usually can start right away. For most languages, local environments are available that you can set up with a few clicks.
If you are not someone who likes to dig into computer science fundamentals and math - lots of math - your best bet on learning a language is a playful way. There is still lots of time to learn the basics after you have started to code.
Hackety Hack is a free Ruby programming language tutor for Windows, Mac and Linux that aims at total beginners, and users with coding experience who like to learn Ruby.
The programming tutor ships as a single executable on Windows that you need to install first, before you can run the program. The main program interface is divided into three core sections: The menu bar on the left, and two columns that make up most of the screen.
The middle column can display menus or the code editor, while the right is reserved for tutorials and documentation.
The program takes you by the hand and gives you an instruction, before you start writing bits of code as you go through the tutorials. Programming lessons start with the basics and build-up on that as you complete the tasks laid out for you.
You begin each coding lesson by reading the instructions displayed in the right column, before you start using the code editor to complete it and move on. As far as the editor goes, you can simply type in instructions, and use the save and run buttons at the bottom of the screen to execute your code.
These programming lessons take you only this far, which at the moment is the biggest downside of the app. While you get to know conditional statements, objects and variables throughout the lessons, you do not really go far beyond that.
The devs plan to add new lessons in the future. If they do, they'd increase the value of the program significantly. For now, it is more of an introduction into programming and the Ruby programming language, than it is a full course that teaches you all there is to know about Ruby or how to code.
There is nothing wrong with that approach though, and the instructions given are clear and concise. You can check the Hackety website for things to do after you have finished the four lessons, especially Learn Ruby The Hard Way seems to be a good next step.
If you are trying to learn a programming language and do not really have a preference right now, then Hackety Hack can be a good easy start into the programming world.
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