How to Learn Programming — the Easy Start Guide

I am often asked what is the best way to acquire the first practical glimpse into the world of programming. I hear it from people with diverse educational backgrounds: linguists and psychologists performing academic research, sales managers calculating business forecasts and simply people excited to learn something new. I decided to write this post as an aid for everyone who wants to learn programming from scratch in a fun way.

Photo by Xiaole Tao on Unsplash

Language

The first question is of course the choice of the programming language.

Example Python programm

Environment

As the learner wants to get going easily, he/she should start with a prepared development environment which includes not only Python language interpreter (the application which takes the Python files and executes them), but also a graphical user interface to tinkle with and see fast results.

Projects

A fantastic advantage to learning Python is the huge number of supported libraries, all available with just one click. Each library covers some application field. For example, pandas is fabulous for structured data analysis (e.g. analyzing data in CSV files or in SQL databases). Pandas is extensively used by data scientists and BI analysts around the world.

Example of data processing in pandas (source)
Example of a Flask web app (source)
Example of a face detection algorithm with scikit-learn (source)
Example of histological image processing with scikit-image (source)

Where to start

Personally, I would propose the following curriculum.

  1. Run Jupyter Notebooks in your browser. In the Terminal, type jupyter-lab. Start learning Jupyter Notebooks with a fun tutorial.
  2. Start learning Python: e.g. check this video tutorial.
  3. Start learning pandas for data analysis. This will make you more familiar with data processing techniques.
  4. Let your interests guide you: explore web development with Flask, machine learning with this beginner’s guide for scikit-learn, image processing with scikit-image or something totally different.

Summary

There is no better way to learn that through fun and self-motivation. I believe that both these factors will come together when you start learning Python on real-world examples.

About the Author

I am technical project manager at Doctolib where I apply my knowledge of computer sciences (15+ years of experience with programming languages in Python and beyond) to solving one of the most acute and complex challenges of today — digitalizing the healthcare system in Europe. You can learn more about me in LinkedIn and on GitHub.

Driving the future of healthcare!

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