Learning code in Uganda: These are the best options to get you started

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Whether you are scared that some intelligent robot is about to replace you on your job or you want to be a rockie developer making some side income developing Apps and websites, learning code is one of the most exciting things you could do. Ask any developer  you know, coding is great.

For those who have not been initiated via university or at home or at some event, where to start can really be daunting. In fact the whole coding experience can be really intimidating at first, most people simply think it’s not something for them. But worry not. You are in safe hands since it’s  a self-taught developer guiding you now.

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This post is for people who are passionate and enthusiastic or probably wish to be hobbyist-turned-pro. You have an idea in mind and wish to bring to light yourself. You lead or are part of team of technologists building the next big thing, but wish to know basic code. You are passionate about building the most exciting piece of technology that will change thousands of lives. You are self-driven, self-starter  who doesn’t find difficulty in learning new things by yourself. If you are not among these people, kindly close this tab and move on.

Alright Howdy. Lets dive right in;

<Coding is hard at first, but gets easier/>

I want to prepare your mind first. It’s good to know what to expect before you discover unpleasant surprises yourself. You have probably tried to get a computer to do something for you like say changing a font on word document, converting to pdf or something else, but it jams. Computers have zero emotions. They don’t care that you are having a bad day or that you are in rush to an important meeting. They don’t care until you do exactly what it’s programmed to do.

Now coding is the art and science of getting a computer to follow specific instructions. This can take a form of an App or website or an algorithm. It’s really that simple. But you have to strictly follow the rules aka syntax. That’s the hard part. That syntax has been abstracted in what we call programming languages which is like a hammer in the hands of a carpenter.  These languages help you unleash your creativity enabling you create limitless possibilities.

<Places to learn code online />

This is a mixture of free and paid-for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and plain websites.  There are hundreds of them online, but these are just some of the ones I’ve personally used to learn stuff or recommended online.

<Videos />

Seeing is believing. When you watch someone do something especially code, learning can be fun and easier. I highly recommend The New Boston. He has lots of free online videos on most programming languages and it’s easy to follow.

<Books />

For a craft like coding, one the best things you can do for yourself is get a good book about a subject and consistenly read it. Not just read, but actually code out what you read. Don’t copy-paste. Literary write the code examples yourself if you ever want to profit out of books. There are thousands of books out there. Some are free and others are for buying. I’ve also listed e-book stores where you pay a flat monthly/annually fee and you have access to almost unlimited books.

<IDEs />

An integrated development environment (IDE) is a software application that provides comprehensive facilities to computer programmers for software development.  In short it’s like your Microsoft word for writing code. You want to install any of these before you write any piece of code.

<Places to learn code in Uganda />

This is important. You can lock yourself in a room and code away the whole day, but there’s nothing that beats meeting an actual instructor or group of people doing the same thing — the real world. This is for the Ugandan audience. I’ll list just a few organizations or places that I think might help you get started.

Outbox and Hive colab located at Lumumba avenue and Kamwokya kanjokya street in Kampala are probably some of the best bets for developers. Outbox runs a number of events and progams such as the Google Developer Groups (GDG) where Android and web developers meet and Outbox kids program where kids are taught code.  Hive is home to Women in Technology Uganda or witu hub which supports young women in local capacity building and skills development for technology and entrepreneurship in Uganda. The innovation village might be another interesting place to start looking out for.

If you are interested in embedded systems or robotics, then check out Fundibots. Their aim is to use robotics training in African schools to raise a new generation of problem solvers, innovators and change-makers. Finally take a look at Codehippos on Twitter and Facebook. The Hippos are a budding group of coders and designers building each others technical skills and using code to solve real-world problems. This is where I fully disclose that I started Codehippos.

So there you have it; a starter guide to learning code in Uganda and wherever else you might happen to be. The list is of course not exhaustive and this is where the comments come in. If you are rockstar dev or and indie guy just starting out, let us know your experiences and what you have used to nurture your skills in the comments below.

Image: Outbox