What is Coding and the Best Tools to Learn it


Fiona O’Connell


2019 June 10th

what is coding

As more and more businesses and services shift to an online platform, programming has steadily been creeping up as one of the best career choices you can make in this tech-dominated world. However, it can also appear to be quite intimidating, as many people don't even exactly know what coding is in the first place!. In this article, we will look into the very basics of coding and the best tools which can help you become a successful programmer. Let's dive into it.

So, what exactly is coding?

Before diving into the endless possibilities that can come from coding and the best tools to learn how to get there, let’s break down what coding is.

Essentially, coding is what makes it possible for you to create applications, software, and websites. Things like Facebook, Instagram, your browser, your OS—they’re all made with code. Every single website you're seeing can be broken down into a huge page full of symbols and commands. Programmers are responsible for writing those.

Here is an example of what code looks like, written in Python:

Print ‘Hello, world!’

Most tutorials you’ll see use this command (or some variation of it, depending on the coding language) because it’s the simplest example of code there is. It ‘prints’ or displays the text ‘Hello, world!’ onto the screen.

Why is coding beneficial?

Learning to code can empower you to do some incredible things. Such as building a website from scratch, starting your own tech business, and overall, it can help both understand and be part of the technology that is shaping the world. What’s cooler than that?

Here are just a few of the benefits of learning how to code:

  • Make your own websites
  • Become a career coder and make $$$
  • Open opportunities to work remotely
  • Start a business
  • Understand how computers and technology work

The list goes on. Now that you know what is coding and hopefully, became more inspired, let’s take a look at the best tools to learn how to code.

The best tools available

While it takes plenty of hard work and effort, anyone can learn how to code, and unlike many professions, there are endless resources—paid and free—to take you from newbie to ninja.

If you’ve ever taken an in-person course, you know that it can be a frustrating and overwhelming process. The beauty of online learning is that it makes the education process much more approachable and less intimidating. It allows you to move at your own pace and repeat lessons if need be to fully grasp a concept.

While you should always check to see what’s happening and what courses are offered in your community—because it always helps to have a mentor or someone to explain things to you in person—this article will focus on the best online tools to learn to code.


Free and paid courses.

Udemy houses a vast catalogue of courses from different instructors and a range of topics. The price range goes from free to hundreds of dollars, but if you sign up to receive emails from them, you’ll quickly find that they are ALWAYS having discounts and specials, which brings the price to $10 on average per course.

Since they offer such an abundance of courses, it can be a bit overwhelming. It’s best to search for a particular course first, say, JavaScript, and then filter the results by highest ratings to ensure you’re signing up for the very best JavaScript course.

Udemy only offers video tutorials, and you typically code along with the instructor. What’s great about their courses is that most often, the instructors will walk you through setting up your coding environment, which is something you don’t get from a lot of other online resources. Even if you’re taking a course on JavaScript or Ruby on Rails, the instructors share a lot of insight about other useful tools that can help you in your projects, such as Gulp, NPM, Docker, and so on.



Codecademy is a great starting place, especially for the super noobs who have not written a line of code in their lives. It’s also one of the most popular coding training websites out there. It’s free to take their courses (with also a Pro membership that comes with some perks like tech support and quizzes) and is the best place to get your feet wet.

Codecademy's extensive library of courses includes HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, Python, Ruby, React, Git, and plenty more.

The tutorials are all written (no videos!) and Codecademy does a pretty neat job of emulating a coding environment, making it easy to jump in and start coding. However, this can also be a downside, as it does not have you making files, setting up a local server, and basically setting up a local environment to really code. Everything is done using their in-house software.

Codecademy is a great introduction to the coding world and is recommended if you have never experienced code. It’s very easy to dive into and they provide good explanations for everything you do in each course. However once you take a few courses and decide, “hey, this coding thing is great!”, it’s time to move on to level up.  

Code School 

15 free courses available. $29/month for unlimited.

Code School is definitely one of the best online tools to learn how to code. They offer a great student experience with quality content. When you sign up, you’re prompted to follow a path that will guide you through a succession of different courses. So if you know you’re more into design and front end, there is a path for that. If you’re more into backend coding, there is a path for that too. If you’re unsure where to start, you can also opt for a single course without taking a clear path - the options are all out there.

Code School has videos that are fun and easy to follow at a comfortable pace. After each video, you work on a task that relates to what you learned in the video. Each completed task earns you points, which you can use to “buy” answers when you’re stuck.

Before investing in $29/month, try out their introductory 15 courses for free to see how you like it.


Free 10-day coding boot camp. $499 per “Blueprint”.

If you’re looking to really dive deep into an online bootcamp, Skillcrush offers four "Blueprints" to choose from. They are essentially a bundle of courses that build on each other. These include frontend developer, freelance WordPress developer, freelance business builder, or visual designer courses. By passing a Blueprint, you'll know just about enough to kickstart your very own professional coding career.

Skillcrush also has the option of a nine month bumper program or even a free ten day bootcamp. Students have access to a chat forum where they can communicate with other students as well as office hours for time with their instructor. It's quite a hands--on experience. At a price, naturally.

Team Treehouse

Free 1 week trial. $25-$49/month later.

Team Treehouse is another excellent resource to teach yourself how to code. Their short videos range on topics from HTML and CSS to PHP and Ruby on Rails. They have one of the most comprehensive libraries of coding materials out there.

The structure is fairly simple: learn from their video courses (which they keep up-to-date), practice your skills through challenges and quizzes, and earn badges upon completion.

Try out their one week trial to get a feel for their instructors and quality of content. If you love the badges too much to lose them - pick a monthly subscription.

The best time to start is now!

What is coding? A great way to take control of your life and embark on an incredibly fulfilling endeavour is what it is. Try out one or all of these coding resources to get you creating your very own website and bringing your app ideas to fruition! Coding can help you do a lot of great things, so use your potential!

One last thing to remember is that no matter how well you code, it's not going to be of much use if you host your website on the wrong platform. That's why it's important to know which web hosts are the best!

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