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Learn How to Code: 22 Free Online Resources

By Wendy Boswell on December 9, 2013

Whether youre looking for something new to learn, or ust want to refresh your memory on something that might be a bit rusty, there are !lenty of free sources online that you can take ad"antage of free code classes# $ccording to the %#&# Bureau of 'abor &tatistics, the outlook is (uite fa"orable for software de"elo!ers) *+m!loyment of software de"elo!ers is !ro ected to grow 30 !ercent from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the a"erage for all occu!ations# +m!loyment of a!!lications de"elo!ers is !ro ected to grow 2, !ercent, and em!loyment of systems de"elo!ers is !ro ected to grow 32 !ercent##### -ob !ros!ects will be best for a!!licants with knowledge of the most u!.to.date !rogramming tools and languages# /onsulting o!!ortunities for software de"elo!ers also should be good as businesses seek hel! to manage, u!grade, and customi0e their increasingly com!licated com!uter systems#* . &oftware De"elo!ers,1ccu!ational 1utlook 2andbook
Editors Note: 3his is a guest !ost by Wendy Boswell, technical blogger4writer at 5ntel# &he6s also editor for$bout Web &earch, !art of the 7ew 8ork 3imes /om!any

5n this article, were going to look at a few different resources online you can ta! into for coding know.how9 some of these are email.based, some are in a game format :always my fa"orite;<, and some are instructor.led "ia "ideo# -ust !ick and choose the one that works best for you#

/ode$cademy aims to make learning how to code fun, and they do this by making all of their courses game.based in nature# 3he site offers =tracks>, which are series of courses grou!ed around a !articular to!ic or language# /ourse offerings include -a"a&cri!t, 23?', /&&, @ython, Auby, and -Buery# Aegistration is free, and once you get going in a class, you start to earn !oints and badges as a way to kee! you moti"ated# 7o certificate or credits are offered here, howe"er, the interacti"e classes make com!licated conce!ts seem not as intimidating# /ode$cademy also runs /ode8ear, a year.long collaborati"e effort to get as many !eo!le learning how to code :one lesson !er week< as !ossible# ?ore than C00,000 !eo!le ha"e signed u! at the time of this writing#

Google Code Uni ersity

'earning how to code from the team behind the most !o!ular search engine in the worldD &eems like a !retty good deal# /ourse content here includes information on /om!uter &cience, @rogramming 'anguages, Web @rogramming, Web &ecurity, e"en Eoogle $@5s and 3ools# Eoogle /ode %ni"ersity is free and does not re(uire registration9 classes are offered "ia recorded "ideo lectures, talks, !roblem sets, eFercises, documents, and slides# /om!uter !rogramming language courses are mostly introductory in nature, and include languages such as @ython, /GG, Eo, and -a"a&cri!t# 7o certificates or credits are awarded with the com!letion of these classes#

@eer to @eer %ni"ersity :@2@%< is a collaborati"e eF!erience where youre meant to learn in community with others# Aegistration and courses are totally free# 3here are se"eral =schools> within the @2@% organi0ational framework, including one for Web.based !rogramming backed by ?o0illa, creator of the HirefoF web browser# $s you com!lete courses, you can dis!lay badges on your website or social !rofiles# /ourses include Web?aking 101 and @rogramming with the 3witter $@59 no de"elo!er certifications are offered here, but the courses are well eFecuted and worth taking a look#

H"#L$ Roc%s
23?'I is (uickly becoming the language to know for cutting edge de"elo!ers# 23?'I Aocks is not necessarily a coursework !latform9 rather, its a massi"e database of informational resources on anything and e"erything to do with 23?'I, from nuts and bolts to semantics to storage# @ick what kind of 23?' de"elo!ment youd like to focus on from three different grou!ings) mobile, gaming, or business, and youll get a com!rehensi"e hub of tutorials, articles, and in.browser simulators to get going on 23?'I# 7o credits or certifications are awarded here9 registration and use of the site is totally free# +Fam!les of information offered here include web a!!lication frameworks, debugging tools, and com!atibility resources#

"&e Code !layer

5f you"e e"er wanted to be a fly on the wall and watch o"er the shoulder of someone who really knows what theyre doing with 23?'I, /&&3, or -a"a&cri!t, then 3he /ode @layer is for you# /lick on any of the "ideo offerings, and youll first see the !ro!osed code sni!!et in action9 for eFam!le, a gauge chart written with /an"as and -a"ascri!t# /lick on =!lay walkthrough>, and heres where it gets really interesting) a screencast of how the code was written, along with background information and comments# 3he end result of the code is also included if you ust want to co!y and !aste for your own !ro ect#


Want to learn Auby in a "ery Jen.like fashionD 8oull want to check out AubyJoans, a sim!ly arranged series of Auby tutorials that aim to teach the Auby language, syntaF, structure, and common functions and libraries# $ :free< download of the Auby framework is re(uired in order to get the most out of these classes, which are all com!letely free#

)tac% O er*low
&tack 1"erflow isnt a !lace for free classes, but if youre looking for ad"ice4hel!4shoulder to cry on for nearly any coding issue you might run into, than this is the right !lace# 3housands of de"elo!ers use &tack 1"erflow to trade ideas, collaborate on common !roblems, or sim!ly hel! each other out in a snag# /oding languages discussed here are !lentiful, ranging from /K to Buery to @ython to /&&# &tack 1"erflow isnt ust a !rogramming forum, howe"er9 its also a collaborati"e website built and maintained by those who use it :much like Wiki!edia< with the goal of being an authoritati"e resource on all things code#

While &cratch, a !ro ect of the ?53 ?edia 'ab, is aimed for kids, anyone who wants to di"e right into the basics of !rogramming will find this site en oyable# &cratch is a !rogramming language meant for creati"e Web !ro ects) games, music, art, stories, animations, etc# 'earning how to use &cratch is an eFercise in logic, which is a foundational building block for any code language out there# &cratch is free to download and fun to learn9 once you"e made something with this !latform, you can u!load it to the &cratch gallery and share it with the world#

A++le ,e elo+er Center

$s one of the most !o!ular com!anies in the world, $!!le offers a huge hub of resources s!ecifically for de"elo!ers who might :or might not< be familiar with their a!!s, de"ices, or web browser# Hrom this core of information, anyone can access basic coding tutorials as well as much more ad"anced information, all for free#

Android ,e elo+er Center

5f you"e e"er thought about de"elo!ing for $ndroid, a mobile !latform with millions of users in nearly 200 countries all o"er the world, than this nucleus of e"erything you e"er wanted to know :and more< is what you"e been looking for# 3heres something for e"eryone here, including the absolute beginner who has ne"er coded in his or her life# &DLs, $@5 documentation, design guidelines, etc# are also a"ailable, as well as training modules offered for no"ices to ad"anced users#

#o'ile"uts?obile de"elo!ment is where its at on the ?obile3utsG site# 3here are a "ast "ariety of high (uality tutorials and articles here for mobile de"elo!ers, ranging from Windows @hone &DL to cross.!latform de"elo!ment to 23?'I# 3heres also the occasional insight with working mobile de"elo!ers who gi"e you a glim!se at what successful de"elo!ment technologies and strategies they themsel"es are using# 3he site is nicely organi0ed into sections, so you can find tutorials, articles, ti!s, or "ideos (uite easily#


'earn and !ractice your coding right in your web browser with this interacti"e site# 3here are se"eral ways you can use @rogramr to learn something new or brush u! on coding you already know and lo"e) "isit the 3raining 'abs, where you can !ractice !rogramming by sol"ing real world eFercises, take on one of the coding /hallenges, check out one of the 2000G a!!s that ha"e been made by other @rogramr users for ins!iration, or enter one of the ongoing /ontests# $ll of the information here is free, and a wide "ariety of coding languages from -a"a to &B' are offered#

edM is a collaborati"e effort between 2ar"ard %ni"ersity and ?53 to bring free online courses from both institutions to the Web for anyone to take ad"antage of# /lasses from 2ar"ard, ?53, and Berekley are offered here for free, with more uni"ersities oining in the near future# /ertificates of com!letion are awarded at the time of this writing for free9 howe"er, a =modest fee> for these certificates is !lanned for future students# /lasses are somewhat s!arse right now, but the origin of the classes as well as the informational content is well worth a look9 for eFam!le, you could try &oftware as a &er"ice from Berkeley, 5ntroduction to /om!uter &cience from 2ar"ard, or 5ntroduction to /om!uter &cience and @rogramming from ?53 N all for free#

/ou"u'e E,U
8ou3ube, along with millions of cats.doing.stuff "ideos, offers a hub of educational content with offerings from organi0ations such as 7$&$, the BB/, 3+D, and many more# 5f youre a "isually oriented !erson who learns by watching someone else do something, than this is the !lace for you# 8oull find coding. related "ideos under the +ngineering category9 course offerings range from 5ntro to /om!uter &cience to Web De"elo!ment to Database ?anagement# 3hese are meant to be standalone informational offerings rather than !art of a cohesi"e course9 howe"er, if you would like to di! your toes in a sub ect and want to get a (uick "ideo introduction from leaders in the field, this is a good solution#

@rocessing#org is a central !lace for @rocessing, =is a !rogramming language, de"elo!ment en"ironment, and online community that since 2001 has !romoted software literacy within the "isual arts#> +"erything you need to learn this language from the ground u! is here, including a free download of the software !latform, tutorials, eFam!le code, and a forum for when you really get stuck#

Elo0uent 1a ascri+t
Whether youd like to learn -a"a&cri!t from the ground u!, or merely brush u! on a few fundamentals, then youll want to check out this website# 5ts actually based around a full.length book, and is browser.based with game.based interacti"e tutorials that let you see what -a"a&cri!t can do in a fun and intuiti"e way#

Code A engers
Eet your inner su!erhero on with this fun, game.based site that offers com!rehensi"e courses on 23?', /&&, and -a"ascri!t# 7o registration is re(uired, ust click the =Eet &tarted> button and youre off and running# Hor eFam!le, the -a"a&cri!t 1 course is C0 short lessons with fi"e tasks that you must com!lete in each lesson before mo"ing on to the neFt# +ach module also offers interacti"e challenges and a (ui0 to test your newfound skills# /ool features) a glossary that is instantly a"ailable for whate"er node youre currently working on, a note!ad a!!lication if you want to take notes, and a list of /ode $"engers keyboard shortcuts so you can easily na"igate within the website# /lasses are free#

Code )c&ool
7ot all the courses offered at /ode &chool are free, but there are se"eral good ones that are :and you might ust be tem!ted to take a !aid one once you run through one of the classes;<# 3he first thing youll notice about /ode &chool is how well e"erything is designed N its ust a "ery aesthetically !leasing site# /ode &chool deli"ers all classes within your web browser "ia "ideo lectures, "arious coding challenges and (ui00es, screencasts, and intuiti"e coding tutorials where you get hands on with what you ust learned# +ach class has at least fi"e le"els, and all challenges4(ui00es must be sol"ed before you can ad"ance to the neFt le"el# 1nce you get to the end and unlock the final le"el, youll recei"e a cool badge and !otentially win some swag N like discounts off your neFt /ode &chool course#

Hac%ety Hac%
2ackety 2ack is meant for !eo!le who ha"e had 0ero !re"ious !rogramming eF!erience9 howe"er, if you"e been meaning to learn Auby and youd like to do it as !ainlessly as !ossible then this might be a good s!ot for you# 8oull be using the &hoes cross.!latform toolkit to go through the lessons and figure out how to use Auby effecti"ely9 once you get going you can u!load your !ro ect to the Eallery of !rograms that other users ha"e shared and show off your eF!ertise#

Learn Code "&e Hard 2ay

1kay, yes, the title of this website is a little bit less than ins!irational# 2owe"er, this is definitely one of the most useful sites on the Web for learning code) /, @ython, Auby, &B', and AegeF# $ll of these languages are meant to learn using in.de!th instruction found in a book for each coding !latform# 3he =hard way> is

basically this) learning each eFercise in de!th, making the code run, and not mo"ing on until you"e mastered what youre currently looking at# 3he books are free online to read within your web browser9 you can also choose to !urchase them for a nominal fee if youd like to kee! them#

-ust like ?53s &cratch :another entry on this list<, $lice is !rimarily aimed at the younger set who want to try their hand at !rogramming# 2owe"er, anyone who wants to gi"e coding a go or sim!ly fleF their skills in another kind of en"ironment will en oy this !articular !latform# $lice is educational software that teaches students how to !rogram in a 3D en"ironment# $nimations or games are the focus here, with tools and materials intended to encourage logical thinking, !roblem sol"ing, and of course, com!uter !rogramming# $lice was de"elo!ed and is maintained by /arnegie ?ellon %ni"ersity# 3he downloads and teaching materials are free, and its a great introduction to ob ect.oriented !rogramming, as well as fundamental coding conce!ts#

Google it
While all of the resources listed here are fantastic in their own right, there are still many more too numerous to list, for whate"er coding language you might !ossibly be interested in learning# 2ere are a few Eoogle (ueries you can use to narrow down what youre looking for :hat ti! to 3ech Aeci!es for the more com!licated search strings here<) 3learn 4insert coding language &ere56 Belie"e it or not, this is an incredibly !owerful search string, and will bring u! a solid first !age of results# inurl:edu 7+yt&on7 3his tells Eoogle to search within the %A' kee!ing the search !arameters to only #edu sites, looking for the coding language @ython# 8inurl:&tm 8inurl:&tml intitle:7inde9 o*7 -47:e'oo%s7;7:'oo%75 -4c&m;+d*;<i+5 7+yt&on7 7ow were getting fancy# Basically, this tells Eoogle to find book or e.book directories with @ython books in them, in se"eral different formats# 8ou can also look for s!ecific !ublishers, like this) 8inurl:&tm 8inurl:&tml intitle:7inde9 o*7 -47:e'oo%s7;7:'oo%75 -4c&m;+d*;<i+5 -7o=reilly7 1r s!ecific disci!lines of study) 8inurl:&tm 8inurl:&tml intitle:7inde9 o*7 -47:e'oo%s7;7:'oo%75 -4c&m;+d*;<i+5 -7so*tware de elo+ment7

>ottom line: t&eres a lot o* *ree learning out t&ere

$s you can see, there is literally no end to what you can learn online, in the comfort of your own home at your own !ace# 8oure ne"er too young or too old to start !icking u! new skills, and the latest em!loyment studies are showing that !eo!le who know how to code N and code well N are some of the most highly desired by em!loyers, making coding a "iable, "aluable skillset to ha"e es!ecially in a turbulent economic landsca!e# 2ow did you learn to codeD What was your first coding languageD What made you decide on that !articular languageD 2ow many coding languages do you know, and are there any that are your !articular fa"oriteD @lease share your de"elo!ment eF!eriences with us in the comments#