How to: Take Your First Coding Project from Start to Finish
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
Chances are you learned to code Because you had a Few Ideas of Things you wanted to accomplish, so it's time to pull up That list of development dreams and see what Might Be feasible. While you can take on a rather complex and time-consuming project for your first-and you'll definitely learn a lot-you Probably do not have a lot of time to devote and Might find yourself giving up out of frustration too easily. I feel the best thing to start with, when you're in the learning phase, is something you Actually want to do that you can accomplish pretty Quickly. That way you're rewarded with something you made That Actually works the way you'd always hoped in a very short amount of time. That triumph You can use as motivation for the next project, the which can be a lot bigger.
Figuring Out What's Simple and What's Not
What you need to do with each of your ideas is the break down Them little into as many pieces as possible. In most cases, companies are developing Pls big pieces of software, development They still break down 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 do not have an entire development team, but you're still going to need to tackle bits and pieces to form the whole. Large, sweeping tasks do not 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 Actually you'll need to write. Let's look at a couple of examples.
Say you're interested in making a calendar application and the requirements are to have a day, week, and month view as well as add, edit, and remove specific items. While this is not exactly a Difficult project in the grand scheme of Things, it is more complex than it sounds. In month view alone, you'll have to calculate the which day boxes are part of the current month on the display and the which boxes are grayed out Because they're part of the previous or next month. You'll also have to figure out how different date items Will look, measure how long each item is, truncate the name if it's too long to fit in a box, and so on. What Might Actually seem simple can require quite a bit of logic so it's Important to break down each and every step you can think of so you can Decide if it's feasible for you or not.
The same goes for a game like pong. If your math skills are pretty good, You Could Create a Pong game pretty easily in about 30 minutes or less. The project you pick That Should Be easy enough it will not require you to Spend a ton of time to finish it, but also plays to your strengths. (You Should also avoid making Things like Pong and the make something new and unique as that is more rewarding and Motivating Generally Pls all is said and done.)
Completing Your First Project: Never Stop Learning
Being a developer means you're always learning. New projects mean learning new skills, or at least better Airways to accomplish tasks you've already figured out in the past. Your first project is always the most daunting Because you're starting out with the least knowledge you're going to have, but as you continue on with subsequent projects you'll learn That pretty much everything you do is going to involve venturing out into the unknown. That's a good thing, but It Might take a little adjustment.
Keep Your Reference Materials at the Ready
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 a 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's Xcode . If you do not have a built-in reference, however, you can find online resources Generally That details of every class, function, method, and more for your given language. The PHP Manual is one excellent example.
This type of reference materials Will need Depending on your skill level, too. The online code manuals Generally you'll find are pretty dense, and if you still have more basic skills you need to learn to complete the project you've chosen Probably you'll want to keep books and tutorials at the ready as well. If you do not have any resources yet, consider the project you're making. Getting specific can help you get a better book, a set of video lessons, or whatever you need. For example, if you're making an animation-heavy app using Adobe AIR ActionScript 3, you'll want a book on animating with ActionScript . If you're making a game for your iPhone, get a book on developing your first game . Probably this seems a pretty obvious, but it can be easy to choose a more generic book on a particular language or task That will not include enough of what you want. It's not bad to have That kind of book as well, but when you're learning you're going to want as many specific examples and Explanations as you can get.
Avoid frustration by Taking It Slow and Getting Help
If you're not used to thinking like a developer-and chances are you Are not if you're reading this-you're Probably going to get frustrated more than a Few times while coding your first project. That's okay, and it Happens, but you do not want to get to a point where you feel like giving up Because it's too hard. Make sure you give yourself a realistic schedule. An hour a day is a good amount of time to get quite a bit done. It may feel like Things Are SLOWLY coming along, but that's primarily the case in the beginning. Once you see Things coming together and starting to look like a (web) application, your excitement Will take you the rest of the way.
The Biggest frustration in the development process, however, is bug fixing. No matter how careful you are, you'll Will screw up quite a Few times and introduce bugs in your app. Fixing Generally these right away is ideal, but Will Sometimes you need to step away from the computer and just look at the code tomorrow. A fresh perspective can the make the difference. Another option, however, is having a code buddy. Your buddy code does not necessarily have to work on the project with you, but ideally they'll know how to code as well as you and will not mind hanging out from time to time while you work. When you have a bug you can simply ask Them to take a look at what you've done and see if anything looks strange to them. Often times it's just a typo but you're not seeing they'll see in an instant. If you do not have a buddy who knows how to code however, the alternative is calling up any friend at all and Explaining the problem to them. Explain to Them what you're Trying to do in terms they'll understand, and try to relay the problem you've encountered in an equally simple manner. Encourage Them to the make suggestions even though they'll INSIST They could not possibly know. Often this process can spark something in your mind and help you figure out what you're doing wrong.
Overall you just have to stay diligent, read up on what you want to do, and fail a lot until you learn the skills you need to finish your project. Developing software can be tough Pls you start out, but once you get the hang of it you'll find it fun and rewarding. The first project can be the toughest, but if you take measures to simplify everything and keep yourself on task you Will be done before you know it.