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Lucy Oleschuk
Level 31

Starting the Java Journey: A Comprehensive Guide on How to Learn Coding and Programming

Published in the Random group
When starting a career in IT and mastering programming, many newbies get confused with tricky syntax, collections, multithreading, and other terms. Starting the Java Journey: A Comprehensive Guide on How to Learn Coding and Programming - 1“'There is so much jargon and things I have never heard in my life before. That’s really stressful to start getting into programming.” — says Krzysztof Kasperek, a former CodeGym student. Yet, when you start digging into the world of development, the challenges may begin long before that jargon and syntax arise before you. You've probably heard people saying, "I’m a programmer." But do you know what exactly programming means? Newbies typically don’t understand the difference between programming and coding. If that sounds like you, this article can help break it down. So, let's try to shed some light on the differences between coding and programming.

What’s the difference between programming and coding?

The terms "programming" and "coding" are often used interchangeably, but they signify two different things. Coding is a computer programming language that aims to provide smooth communication between humans and machines. Code acts like a transmitter instructs computers which tasks to perform and how to behave. Programming, on the other hand, is all about telling a machine what to perform. Despite all of the buzz around AI, computers don't think, and they can only do what they're told to do and only in a specific manner. Programming fills the gap between how humans communicate and how computers communicate. In simple words, you may think of programming like a remote control for a TV – it waits for instructions, and you need to press different buttons to tell your TV to perform a specific task (switching the channel, changing the volume, etc.). And that’s exactly how programmers instruct a computer to do certain things. Contrary to coding, the programming process involves several stages:
  • Stating the problem and planning the structure of the application.
  • Designing algorithms and flowcharts (by using tools like Figma).
  • Developing the application (by using a certain programming language).
  • Software testing.
  • Deploying and documenting.
  • Maintaining.
As you can see, coding and programming involve writing instructions for a computer. However, programming is a more comprehensive process that also includes algorithms and data structures. As a coder, you just need to have a basic knowledge of some programming language and its syntax. Your main purpose will be writing the actual code that could tell the machine what to do. As a programmer, you should have a deeper knowledge to begin with. You need to know how to create and work with algorithms and data structures, debug and test your code, manage different projects, and work with programming languages.

Coding vs Programming

Programming aspect A part of programming A complete process for creating programs
Skills required Basic knowledge of programming skills (no familiarity with software tools is needed) Strong knowledge of programming skills and ability to work with software development tools
Best for Simple projects Big projects
Scope The implementation phase of software development Entire process of creating a software solution
Goals Produce a communication layer between the application and the computer system Offer a completely functional application and maintain it
In a word, coding is like a chapter in the programming book. Like the sentences make up a book, lines of code make up a whole program. Coding and programming are the essential elements of the puzzle that work together to make a successful software application. And just a final point — a "coder" and a "programmer" aren't necessarily two separate people. You can be a coder and a programmer all at once.

How can I learn programming?

Learning programming requires dedication, practice, and, more importantly, a structured approach. Before learning to code, you must make some pre-preparation and clearly define your goals. You need to decide why you want to learn programming — whether for a career change, building personal projects, or for academic purposes. A clear goal (and, preferably, the end result you want to achieve) will guide your learning path and help you stay motivated. Next, you should choose a programming language to start with. As a course specified in Java, we suggest you choose Java as the first programming language. It's quite a beginner-friendly, object-oriented programming language that has a versatile syntax, boasts great community support, and is used in various domains. Then, you need to choose learning resources that would perfectly align with your lifestyle, routine, and personality. These may be textbooks, offline courses, colleges, online platforms, bootcamps, etc. The idea is to choose the resource that would not only help you learn fundamental programming concepts but also let you learn at your comfortable pace. Once you get the hang of the theoretical part, practice as much as possible. Keep in mind that programming is a skill that improves with practice. Code daily, solve coding challenges, and work on small projects to reinforce your understanding and gain hands-on experience. Applying your knowledge by working on real-world projects is also a nice idea. Building projects help you solidify your skills and create a portfolio to showcase to potential employers. It’s the key that can help you land your job faster. As the practice shows — real hands-on experience is now valued more than an academic degree and college background. When we asked Edward Izraitel, our "CodeGym University" course mentor, “Can someone master programming online without a CS degree?” he answered, “A degree certainly helps you get a foot in the door. However, the industry is growing, and many companies accept people without a degree in CS. As long as you know how to do the stuff, it doesn't really matter if you have a degree – that's what many companies believe.” Edward also said, “How do you learn programming with tons of information and no structure of what to follow? It's tough for newbies to choose the right content. However, enrolling in the online course will definitely help, as the online courses usually provide the structure and steps you need to take to learn what you're about to learn. It definitely helps to understand how to code in a certain language.” We can also add that learning programming is a gradual process, and persistence is key. You need to choose the courses with a structured curriculum that will keep you engaged.

How can I learn coding?

Regarding the question “how to code”, the plan also looks pretty similar here. Before delving into the basics to coding, you need to figure out why you want to learn to code. Think about the projects you want to perform and what skills excite you. Again, set the end goal you want to achieve and keep it in mind. Step two involves choosing the coding language you want to learn and choosing online resources you feel comfortable with. For the best results, we recommend you choose online courses and complement them with YouTube tutorials, ebooks, old-school paper books, and more. Also, we suggest using tools for syntax highlighting or code lookup that can make learning to code easier. You may also refer to beginner-friendly editors like Notepad++, Sublime Text, Emacs, and VS Code. Text editors include cool features like color coding, auto-complete, find-and-replace, dark mode, and more. To seek support and check out how other people code to get some inspiration, newbies can benefit from open-source communities:
  • Stack Overflow, a forum site for questions and discussions
  • r/learnprogramming, a subreddit (a microsite on for new coders
  • GitHub, a code repository for open-source projects with a big developer community
Note that the latter resource can also help you engage in real-world projects. As we already said, projects are necessary for entry-level coders as they can prove your competency in a particular language. Plus, every new completed project will add one or more skills under your belt.

Learning programming and coding in one place

Many students consider learning to program and code in one place as the ideal start for their careers. And CodeGym may be a very efficient and convenient solution for beginners. The CodeGym course offers a structured curriculum with a concise learning path. The course is divided into different levels, making it easy for students to progress systematically from basic to more advanced Java programming concepts. “By level 10, you cover a lot of basic Java base questions. And lessons from 1 to 4 when I think of it, it gives an understanding of how it looks like to be a programmer.” – says Ceasar, a CodeGym student. The platform uses a gamified approach to help you stay on the path, making learning more engaging and enjoyable. The course boasts a clear storyline, unique quests, and a convenient schedule calendar to motivate learners. Also, CodeGym tracks your progress, helping you understand how far you've come. Yet, the best part is that the course is full of hands-on coding tasks and challenges, letting students get ample practical experience and reinforce theoretical knowledge with real-world applications. The CodeGym course includes more than 1,200 practical tasks with instant verification of a virtual mentor. The immediate feedback allows learners to quickly identify and correct errors, identify areas that need more attention, and set goals for improvement. “What really helped me was passing a few lessons on CodeGym. Once I did it, I ensured myself I could think logically and solve problems on my own.” — says Krzysztof, a former CodeGym student. CodeGym is an online platform that lets students learn at their own pace from anywhere in the world. This adaptability is particularly important for individuals with busy schedules or career switchers. To finish we have collected the top tips from our students who passed the whole course successfully.

Tip #1. Practice, practice, and practice

Edward Izraitel says that practice is key since it “will develop your creativity and problem-solving”. He also believes that practice and real problem-solving can help you stay curious. “Curiosity is the main thing that I want people to have: if you're curious about something, go and figure it out, or go and find someone to talk about it”.

Tip #2. Forget about fear

Milan Vucic, one more "Java Fundamentals" course mentor, also agrees that curiosity is the engine that drives learning and personal growth. But there is something even more than that. “My biggest advice for everyone is not to be scared. Everybody makes bugs and mistakes. Just google and research a lot, and you will find the solution eventually.” — he recommends to his students. So, even if you get stuck at some point, it’s not a reason to give up. Just try again or refer to the community to crack the task.

Tip #3. Find what attracts you

Sadly enough, many people opt for programming solely for financial reasons. However, if monetary gain is your only motivator, then the learning may not bring you joy, and you may easily quit halfway. “Try to find an exciting occupation in programming. There are various interesting areas in Java: front-end, back-end, Android, working with robotics, and building AI models. Turn programming into something fun, and it will be a much better motivator than money.” — suggests Vadym Novakovskyi, senior Java developer and mentor.

Wrapping Up

Whereas coding serves as a language facilitating communication between humans and machines, programming encompasses the entire process of instructing machines — problem-solving, algorithm design, development, testing, deployment, and maintenance. No wonder learning to program is a quite comprehensive process that requires a structured approach driven by motivation and clear goals. The journey to master programming is not about acquiring random technical skills in pursuit of monetary gain. It’s about passion backed by a structured plan, curiosity, lots of practice, and effective learning resources. Let's start the journey together with CodeGym.