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The Complete Guide for Learning Code: Tools and Resources

The Complete Guide for Learning Code: Tools and Resources

The usage of technology in our society is only rising over time, and coding professionals are the backbone of the technology industry. This rise is only expected to grow with time, with the number of software developers worldwide is expected to exceed 28.7 million by 2024. Given this growth, learning to code can be a major benefit for those looking for reliable and lucrative career options.

Even professionals in roles that don’t revolve around programming are finding that their skillset is more marketable if they have some basic programming skills in their toolkit 🔧

This is particularly true as more of our communications and media consumption occurs online, as coding skills can highly benefit professionals like digital publishers and online marketers. These skills can, for example, help them more effectively alter website layout and navigate relevant algorithms.

The Complete Guide for Learning Code: Tools and Resources

Computer Programming Languages

A programming language is a language designed to produce desired machine code output. It allows us to give instructions to computers 👩‍💻 Developers use programming languages to create programs, apps, websites, and more. There are many different programming languages, and before deciding which one you should learn, you will need to determine what you intend to use it for. 

Python 

Python is a good programming language for beginners and is therefore often used to teach the principles of programming. Additionally, because this language is often used as a training tool for coding, it is open-source, which makes it very accessible.

Python is also object-oriented, which means that you can reuse blocks of coding, a feature that further simplifies work for beginning coders. Python 3.9.0, the most recent major release, introduced some additional features that can streamline programming.  

It’s worth mentioning that over the years, Python has been gaining momentum among both testers and developers, and it is the fastest-growing programming language out there (as we can see in the Stack Overflow Trends chart below):

Why start learning to code in Python

There are quite a few reasons as to why Python’s popularity has been rising in the test automation field, and why it’s thought of as one of the best choices for learning code. I recommend reading more about it in this Top 8 Python Testing Frameworks in 2021.

Good resources for those interested in learning Python include:

  • DataCamp: This is a free, interactive introduction to Python.
  • Google Python Class: This is a resource developed by Google to help people learn Python through a variety of materials, including written instructions, webinars, and practice tools.
  • GeeksforGeeks: This page offers exercises to practice your Python knowledge. 
  • FreeCodeCamp: While this site offers instructions on getting started with a variety of different programming languages, it is most popular for its curriculum on learning Python. This includes material on learning data analysis methods and the basics of machine learning.

Java 

Java is a relatively simple programming language that is platform-independent, meaning that it can be used on any operating system. As such, you can use the same code on different devices, which can drastically simplify the process if you intend to expand the usage of your program.

Additionally, Java is object-oriented, which means that it is modular and sections of code can easily be reused 🔁 This is another way in which Java simplifies the coding process. You can, in many cases, essentially mix and match existing building blocks rather than having to re-weave the structure every time. Further, through the use of Java Enums, processes such as test automation are made much simpler.

Good resources for those interested in learning Java include:

Ruby

Ruby is object-oriented, which means that it is modular, and sections of code can easily be reused. It is also a dynamic programming language, which means that there is room for flexibility in how you build the code, rather than very stringent, predetermined structures. Both of these features can make Ruby a relatively simple and intuitive coding language to work with. 

Good resources for those interested in learning how to code in Ruby include:

  • Try Ruby: This is an interactive tool that allows you to practice using Ruby. It features a tutorial and exercises. 
  • Rails for Zombies: This platform offers an interactive, gamified series of exercises to practice Ruby coding. 
  • Testing Your Ruby Waters With Capybara: This is a web-based automation testing framework using Ruby that can be helpful for professionals who are looking to learn and improve on the job. 
  • Rails Girls: This is a community for women who are interested in learning Ruby. 

HTML

HTML (hypertext markup language) is free to use and is supported by all browsers 🌐 Because HTML is globally recognized, it is very useful for web development applications, as well as use within international organizations. It should also be relatively easy to find a professional to assist you if any issues arise. 

Good resources for those interested in learning HTML include:

JavaScript

JavaScript utilizes a simple syntax based on the structure of Java, and the language is widely used. It is also known for being highly complementary to other programming languages. These factors make JavaScript relatively easy to use and very useful for tasks such as adding interactive elements to web pages and developing mobile applications 📱

Therefore, when using this language you do not have to worry about what browsers will be used to access the applications, or how they will interact with existing coding structures on the larger website or platform. 

Good resources for those interested in learning JavaScript include:

C Language

C is one of the oldest programming languages. While it is still relatively simple, it is more difficult than introductory languages like Python and Java. It can be used for a wide array of technologies and applications, and therefore it is very portable. It is often used to develop intermediary coding skills, as its structure is used as the basis of many other programming languages.

Good resources for those interested in learning C and its cousins, C++ and C#, include:

Objective-C

Objective-C is an important branch of C language programming that utilizes message passing, a relatively uncommon feature among the C programming language family (the notable exception being its major competitor, Swift).

It is object-oriented, which means that it is modular, and sections of code can easily be reused. This programming language is most notably used as the foundation for iOS and macOS apps development. The syntax of this programming language is widely thought to be complex and tedious 😟

Good resources for those interested in learning Objective-C include:

Swift

Swift was developed by Apple with the support of an open-source community. It was developed to improve upon the limitations presented by Objective-C. Because it is not built on top of C like Objective-C is, it uses a more intuitive language that more closely mimics the structure of spoken languages. However, this factor also means that it cannot directly compile C code. 

Good resources for those interested in learning Swift include:

  • Swift Playgrounds: This is an app developed by Apple to help people learn Swift. 
  • Swift Cheat Sheet: This is a quick reference guide for elements and structures of Swift. 
  • Swift Forums: This is a platform for Swift users to learn and communicate. 

PHP

PHP (PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor) is an open-source language that can be embedded in HTML. It is also supported on all major web browsers, as it is a server-side programming language. It is particularly notable for its fast loading speed compared to other types of code.

PHP utilizes a relatively simple syntactical structure and boasts a robust community associated with the language. Both of these factors mean that it is a relatively easy programming language to learn.

Good resources for those interested in learning PHP include:

  • Learn PHP From Scratch: This is a series of interactive tutorials and other learning materials relating to PHP. 
  • PHP Cheat Sheet: This is a quick reference guide for PHP elements and structures. 
  • PHP Community: This is a platform that you can use to communicate with other PHP users. 

SQL

SQL (structured query language) is a programming language used to manage data 📊 It is relatively easy to learn as it is largely composed of English statements. Knowledge of SQL is highly valuable in many professional settings, including web development, data analysis, and IT support. 

Good resources for those interested in learning SQL include:

  • SQLBolt: This is a series of interactive tutorials for learning SQL. 
  • SQL Cheat Sheet: This is a quick reference guide for SQL elements and structures. 
  • SQL Server: This is an online community hosted by Microsoft that is dedicated to news and best practices relating to SQL. 

Low-Code/No-Code Development & Software Testing

Testing is the process of determining the efficiency and usability of the software. Because tests are most effective when conducted and reviewed regularly, it is often useful to automate and record them, even if you have the programming knowledge to do them without assistive tools. 

Low-code and no-code platforms — a growing trend in recent years — can prove to be invaluable for testing automation: 

Low-Code and No-Code Development: What’s the Difference?
Low-Code No-Code
Describes platforms that facilitate rapid application development for individuals with at least a basic understanding of coding Describes platforms for non-professional developers- no prior coding knowledge required
Relies on tools that speed up development, like drag-and-drop code editing, metadata-driven code generation, and more Development relies on visual modeling tools instead of programming
Useful for complex applications, such as those that have a central role in an organization’s processes Useful for simple data management applications
Generally allows for customization with options to use code or scripting Easy management of apps that are updated frequently
Customization options may be non-existent or difficult to use without some programming knowledge

While there are many misconceptions about codeless automation testing, it has a number of benefits 💡 No-code development programs allow people to develop application software without needing to know how to code. This is accomplished through the use of a graphical user interface (GUI) that allows them to mix and match existing templates and other pre-made components.

There are many different options for no-code software, and the user’s capabilities within the software will depend on the features available through that particular program. 

Programming Languages Suitable for Test Automation

No one programming language stands head-and-shoulders above the rest in terms of its suitability for test automation. This is because what will work best for your software testing will depend on many factors, such as what language the target software is being developed in.

It’s worth mentioning that Java and Python are generally easier languages to learn — this is worth keeping in mind when exploring test automation as a beginner.

That being said, there are a few hallmarks of a programming language that is well-suited to test automation 📌 Ideally, a programming language used for test automation should be:

  • Portable: You don’t want to have to adjust the programming for different platforms. It will also always be helpful to conduct cross-platform testing to further ensure the portability of the code. 
  • Flexible: You will want to be able to tweak the programming as needed. 
  • Widely known and used: If a programming language is widely known and used, it will be easier to find people with experience in it, and you can benefit from community knowledge about the language. 
  • Easy to use: It will be helpful to choose a relatively easy-to-use programming language, as the coding for test automation is not typically very complex, and an easier language will make training related to test automation a simpler task if you can find someone with sufficient existing experience.

When developing code for testing, it can help to use an open-source automation framework, such as TestProject OpenSDK, to get started. With that in mind, the following programming languages are widely thought to be particularly well-suited to test automation:

Resources and Tools for Learning to Code

If you’re interested in learning to develop your programming skills further, there are plenty of online resources and tools 🧾 In fact, many of these are free. Educational resources and tools that can provide support for people interested in coding include:

Coding Communities and Organizations

Engaging in a coding community or organization can help you discover new solutions in coding, receive feedback, and discover new resources or tools to support your growth as a programmer. Coding communities that can be helpful for individuals interested in learning to code include:

  • TestProject Forum: TestProject’s forum is a great way to get feedback and advice when learning how to code (particularly for questions related to test automation).
  • Community-Powered Test Automation Library: TestProject has 1500+ community contributed automation actions to enhance your testing experience.
  • Women Who Code: This is an online community that is meant to support women in their coding endeavors. 
  • Stack Overflow: This is a forum for programmers that offers a question and answer structure. 
  • GitHub: GitHub offers a community platform to collaborate on software projects, in addition to other software development resources. 
  • SourceForge: This is a platform that manages open-source software projects. 

Conclusions

While coding can seem daunting, there are plenty of resources online that can help. Understanding the strengths and learning curves associated with each programming language are vital steps toward becoming a better developer.

Regardless of your programming skill level, there is a variety of resources, tools, and communities online to help you along in your professional development 🙏

Meital Matsafi

About the author

Meital Matsafi

As the Head of Community at TestProject and a test automation enthusiast by ❤, I love building and maintaining relationships with our community members, diverse community organizations, and internal entities while learning and sharing my key findings. Assisting with the development of robust engagement plans & activities I’m extremely eager to evolve and grow the community.

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