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Craig Nicol (he/him)
Craig Nicol (he/him)

Posted on • Originally published at craignicol.wordpress.com on

Ideas for a second coding project

You’ve done the tutorial, what to build next?

Maybe one of the following:

  • To-do app
  • Shopping cart (up to the point of collecting payments)
  • Bouncing balls

Don’t worry about building something unique. If you’re building something with lots of examples, you’ll have something to refer to when you get stuck.

Find something you know. Something where you can write down 5 requirements now without research because it’s something you use or an itch you have. And then you can work back from those requirements to the features you need to build. That’s the heart of programming. Not writing for the computer, but translating from human to machine, breaking things down and formalising them into simple rules.

And that’s when you realise programming usually doesn’t involve maths. It’s about thinking logically. What are the mechanics of the feature?

It’s not: I want list of tasks. It’s:

  • When I open my tasks, then I can add a new one or mark an existing one as complete.
  • When I type in a text box and hit Enter, then a new task is added to the list.
  • When I click the checkbox next to the task, then the task is removed from the list.

There’s an action and a reaction that the machine understands. There’s choices of actions that the user can make.

Use what you learned in the tutorial to translate those actions into simple functions, and to translate the choices into a user interface, whether web, native, command line or API. Then look at it, and make it easier, faster, more secure, or add more features.

The goal here isn’t to learn a specific language, although it will help you do that, it’s to think about how to take an idea, or a requirement, and translate it into something the computer will understand. I think this is the hardest part of the journey, but it’s the most important. I’d also recommend trying programming challenges such as Advent of Code or Project Euler to get practice of writing and thinking.

Good luck on the next, biggest, step of your programming journey.

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