Level Two: Codeacademy
CodePen is an online tool with an easy-to-navigate user interface that allows beginners to practice writing snippets of code that require other files (like JQuery) without having to link to those files themselves and still see the fruits of their labors immediately. JS Bin is a similar tool with a lightly different interface. Some learners may prefer one over the other, we love both.
Level Four: Atom
So far, we’ve mentioned learning tools that allow you to write code in your browser. As you move on to more complex, projects, you’ll likely want a text editor on your computer. Atom is a free text editing software that is the preferred by Galvanize instructors. Here’s why:
The interface is simple and easy to use. Galvanize Associate Instructor Elana Kopelvich recommends selecting a colorful theme to help you strengthen your mental associations as certain kinds of code show up in categorical colors. The colors will also help you notice when something in your code is amiss–if all of your variable declarations are one color, and suddenly a different hue appears, you know to check your work.
The linter in Atom checks your work for things like-out-of-place punctuation, unclosed parentheses, and misspellings. This will save you the headache of scouring your code for the minute typo throwing a wrench in your otherwise magnificent work. More importantly, it can be used as a learning tool by showing you what needs to be in place to make your code functional.
“If you’ve done all of those things and they’ve all been great that’s the point where you need to dive deeper in some way. That can be in taking a class at Galvanize,” said Reid. “What I find as the reason people come to Galvanize is because they’ve been trying to learn on their own and they’ve hit some kind of wall ... We give projects and context to everything. So, opposed to just learning about functions [in the abstract] we learn about functions in some sort of exercise so we’re able to create those associations.”