If you’ve always wanted to learn how to program, but have never found the time, a new site called Codeacademy may be for you.
You can save your progress through Codeacademy, sharing your progress with your Twitter and Facebook friends. Sure, you have to make an account in roder to save your stuff, but Codeacademy only prompts you to do so when you’ve completed three lessons. And you can just connect it to your Facebook account if you don’t want to have to make up yet another password for yet another site.
So far, there are only basic lessons available, though the people who run the site say they’re planning on adding more as soon as possible. At the start, you’ll learn about strings, arithmetic, if statements, and loops. I got through the material in about 30 minutes, but that may be because I have some programming experience, so the concepts weren’t completely new to me.
You’re prompted to type things into a text box and complete snippets of code. The best part is that you learn by doing, which, as Brian Kernighan and Dennis Ritchie said in “The C Programming Language,” is the only true way to learn how to program. The biggest lesson that users should take away from Codeacademy is that building websites are any other piece of software isn’t some mysterious voodoo that only certain lucky people know how to do. Software follows simple logical rules. If Codeacademy allows people to discover that small insight, perhaps their relationship to technology will be more collaborative instead of just accepting whatever companies want to push toward them.