How I approach learning a new programming language or framework

One of the best things about working in the tech industry is that we get to constantly learn new things. The field evolves so quickly. The caveat is that it can also be a bit overwhelming to take time out of a busy schedule and check out a new library or framework that you’ve heard about.

I’m a slow learner and things don’t come easily to me. I’m also a visual learner and exclusively reading long lists of documentation doesn’t always help me to retain information. So, if you’re anything like me, perhaps this methodology can help you too.

Read the documentation

The first thing I like to do is read the getting started portion of the documentation. Usually, the first or second page of the docs will explain the purpose of using that framework as well as some of it’s core fundamental concepts. Knowing why something exists or what problems it can solve can help get into the right mindset for how to approach building projects.

Try a tutorial

If the framework uses syntax that I am already familiar with, I’ll go ahead and find a lengthy tutorial to walk through. If I don’t know the language at all, then resources like codeacademy.com are great for walking you through the basics of syntax and methods that you’ll need to build a project.

Do another tutorial

Once I make it through a tutorial that walks me through step by step how to build a simple project (i.e. a basic CRUD application), I do another one. Yep, when it comes to learning new things, for me, teaching myself is repeating.

Try building a project on your own

At this stage, I’ve gained some familiarity and it’s a good time to build something on my own. The best part is that I have two projects that I can reference if I get stuck. This is the most important part of the learning process because it forces me to struggle through a project. It’s also the stage where I make the most mistakes and get stuck in a lot of rabbit holes. Working out those beginning errors illustrates the fundamentals of the language the best because I get to learn about why something doesn’t work.

Solve harder problems

The last stage of the learning process is to continue building on that foundation. For example, implementing a database into the project or adding a backend framework to pass data back and forth. Finding more complex problems to solve is a great way to dive deep into a new skillset.

These steps to learning a new framework isn’t something that happens in a few days or even weeks. It’s ongoing.

There are tons of ways to approach problem solving as we all process information differently.  Comment below to share what your learning process looks like.

 

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