How to Learn Programming, in Two Easy Steps

I am sometimes asked by non-programmers how they can get into programming. They want to know what programming language they should learn, which programming tools to use, and so on. These are hard questions to answer. It's like asking "I'd like to be a musician. Which instruments and which pieces of music should I learn?"

Here is my advice:

  1. Think about an application you'd like to see developed.
  2. Learn what you need to know to develop that app, and develop it.

Programming is a big field. Choosing a concrete goal narrows it to something manageable. Once you know exactly what you want to make, it is a lot easier to decide upon a programming language and tools.

Professional programmers don't "learn how to program" and then just apply that knowledge for the rest of their careers. Every day, we learn new things: programming languages, tools, libraries, operating systems, and so on. We pick it up as we go, learning what we need to know as it's needed. If you want to be a programmer, you need to learn how to do the same.

© 2003-2023 Kristopher Johnson