‘Practical Techie:’ To code or not to code

Written by  //  March 4, 2014  //  Biz Views  //  No comments

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Author Rafael Matos is professor of multimedia at a private university and director of the Caribbean Multimedia Center, a nonprofit media lab focusing on closing the digital divide. Questions should be sent to cccrafael@gmail.com.

Author Rafael Matos is professor of multimedia at a private university and director of the Caribbean Multimedia Center, a nonprofit media lab focusing on closing the digital divide. Questions should be sent to cccrafael@gmail.com.

The question for all digital business people always beckons. Should I learn Web coding and how much?

We all know that all famous and super-rich Internet entrepreneurs such as Bill Gates, David Filo, Jerry Yang, Lou Montouli or Mark Zuckerberg are all top-notch coders. In fact, I sometimes suspect they speak HTML language better than regular English.

Most of them, one imagines, started using programming or machine language while at the crib.

But running a business leaves very little time to learn HTML, because like learning to be a piano virtuoso, it takes a lot of study and practice.

One thing about knowing how to code is that it puts you in the driver’s seat of your own website. One can make major changes, improvements, update design and even start a business portal from scratch. No need to consult, contract or read 20 brick-size manuals to change the color scheme of a webpage.

Yes or no
Well, to answer the question, learning to code is a good investment in time and money. But, only if you business depends extremely on Web traffic to stay alive and kicking. What’s more, if your enterprise depends a mobile phone activity, its almost obligatory to learn how to make apps, which is a lot easier to learn than HTML coding. In fact, you can set up a side business by becoming an app developer.

Be advised that coding is a computer science and will be a very technical, repetitive and painstaking process. That is the bad news. The good buzz is that is has become as easier as it gets with such platforms as CSS, Atom, Javascript and XTML, and more. The computer screen is your schoolhouse. The experts say that real learning takes place when you start experimenting with code in the browser and using design concepts in a website.

Options available
There are dozen and dozens of online coding schools on the Web. And there are hundreds and hundred of tutorials, or thousands and thousands of videos about the matter, in youtube.com alone. That saves you the money for a master tutor or mentor watching over your learning, or for manuals or digital courses on DVD.

The advantage of learning code through distance training is that you set your own pace. Prices can vary from $25 to $650 per course, depending on level and options.

One website to learn both code and app building is treehouse.com. It offers bot code language and app building. In cideacademy.com, learning is very interactive, Code.org, is nonprofit and offers a very intuitive program, specially for school-age youth. Its motto is “anybody can learn.”

In codeschool.com, an application called code avengers allows you to learn while you play a video game.

This link will take you to the prestigious portal TED, where top experts give us common folks down-to-earth advice about the Web’s esoteric dimensions.

Without wanting to be sexist, http://girldevelopit.com is a spot for the ladies to learn to be a programmer. This site’s manifesto is that it aims to empower women of diverse backgrounds from around the world to learn how to develop software. It only requests a donation for its services.

“Knowing how to code may actually become the most powerful tools in my belt. It’s one of many skills that I’ll need to continue to improve. But I really don’t see any way to accomplish the things I want to without it. Besides, it’s awesomely fulfilling to see something through from idea to completion,” said Joelle Steiniger, an e-book developer and writer from California.

So take up a new hobby. Coding is the name of the game. No one is ever too old to learn how to design marvelous stuff in cyberspace.

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