Ever since I discovered Python in 2013, I have been coding in my own little world, mostly trying out ill-fated grandiose ideas that were light-years ahead of my capabilities. It was if I could “graduate” from Codecademy, then just Google and Stack Overflow my way to writing a financial management application! I struggled to figure out to learn the most I could about the capabilities of Python and simultaneously bring my complex ideas to life. In the past year I’ve come to realize I haven’t progressed very far in learning Python beyond what it can do for my simple little text importing needs. Until recently, I had no idea what to do next.
Enter the “Code Challengers!”
It seems to me that in the past couple of years, several sites have sprung up to not just teach coding, but give learners a chance to practice, with the encouragement of both fellow learners and experts in an online community. I’ve checked out Codewars, Codefights, and Freecodecamp and am impressed with the positive, uplifting “vibe” of these communities. These brought to my attention a missing ingredient in my learning: connecting with other people who on the same journey as me, so I may have opportunities to both receive and give help and encouragement. This, of course, includes being willing to share my code with others and accept criticism — a critical component in learning anything.
Why has it taken me so long to take this step? One word: Fear.
I follow some Python developers on Twitter, and many of their tweets might as well be in Chinese to me, given my ability to understand them.
I look back on all these years I’ve been dabbling in Python in my (limited) free time, and my code still looks to me like the Python equivalent of a toddler’s crayon drawings. All it does is push text around! I couldn’t imagine anyone on, say, Stack Overflow or Reddit giving me the time of day.
Yet as 2018 progressed, I kept nagging myself: “You gotta get your code out there! Show it to people! Get feedback! You’ll never get anywhere..remember those articles you’ve read about how coders can’t just be great programmers, they must also know how to communicate and work with others effectively?”
Finally, on June 26, I took a major step forward in my Python adventure: I posted the latest incarnation of my CSV file reader on GitHub, Tweeted a link to it, and asked for feedback.
I expected a few polite “likes”, maybe a comment or two like “well, it’s a start..good luck…”.
Instead, I received an invitation to join the PyBites Slack community, and share my code there, which I did.
Within an hour, it generated a whole new discussion thread, in which I received a lot of positive feedback and gratitude for sharing. It was a fresh boost of inspiration to push forward with my “Py Ed”, even reviving my hope of coding as a profession some day.