Ready, set, CODE!
You’ve learned to code, but now what? You may have some basic skills, but you’re not sure what to do with them. Here’s how to choose and get started on your first real project…
Choosing Your First Project: Start Simple
Figuring Out What’s Simple and What’s Not
What you need to do with each of your ideas is break them down into as many little pieces as possible. In most cases, when companies are developing big pieces of software, they still break down development tasks into tiny digestible chunks and assign them to various members of the team. Those team members then write that specific code and move on to the next task until they’re done. Little bits and pieces are created until the software is formed. This is a simplistic, high-level picture of how things work but it’s no different from the approach you should be taking to your first and subsequent projects. You don’t have an entire development team, but you’re still going to need to tackle bits and pieces to form the whole. Large, sweeping tasks don’t work in any situation and especially not with software development. Breaking everything down into simple steps is what will tell you if a project is too big or too small to start with. It’ll show you what you need to learn in order to accomplish it and the pieces of code you’ll actually need to write. Let’s look at a couple of examples.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by even a small project, take your first task and figure out what you need to learn. That should give you an idea of the sort of reference materials you’re going to want to keep handy as you work your way through the entire project. What you’ll need will vary, but it’s very common for integrated development environments (IDEs) to have built-in reference you can check. This is the case for software like Panic Coda (which is a really awesome option on the Mac, by the way), Adobe Dreamweaver, and even Apple Xcode. If you don’t have built-in reference, however, you can generally find online resources that detail every class, function, method, and more for your given language. The PHP Manual is one excellent example.