This series of books is designed for all those who have asked me the question ‘What is coding?’ I have been asked that question so many times and is very difficult to give a quick, succinct or meaningful answer. The best way I can explain it is for you to try it. These series of books take you from the very basics through to the dizzy heights of Artificial Intelligence. 

Each book is divided into units covering specific aspects of coding. You simply work through each unit step by step. The idea is that you work at your own pace, enjoy it, try not to get frustrated if it doesn’t work, there will be a very simple reason why not. Coding is really problem solving. Finding a solution is part of the creativity and there is always more than one way to do it. 

So be kind to yourself, be patient with yourself and be willing to learn for learning’s sake. This first book is designed to give you a very general overview of the world of coding and is not meant to be exhaustive by any stretch of the imagination. It will cover a range of topics that may or may not interest you. 

For this course you will be using a creative JavaScript library called p5.js that was designed as a creative tool, it has a canvas that you can draw on and do wonderful things with, including games and even artificial intelligence. As an educator I think it is the ideal way to learn to code (after a lot of personal exploration) I think you will enjoy the process and the outcome.

The best machine to work with is a laptop or a PC. You can use a tablet (I have done quite a bit of coding on my iPad) but it is a bit limiting without a mouse. I also recommend using chrome as your web browser and have a gmail account to save your work as you go along but neither are essential.

Why learn to code?

Although it is fun it is also an important skill to learn. I would even go so far as to say vital for the future. Not just so you can put it on your CV but increasingly it is underpinning everything we do. Even if you have a 9 to 5 job and don’t feel the need or necessity you might be missing the point. 

It goes without saying that you learn to read and write which has huge benefits in your personal and work life. You learn at least to do basic maths and that too is helpful for every day things. Yet nearly everything you do and use has some coding somewhere in it. 

You may wonder what you will do with your coding if and when you become competent. A few make a direct living from it as software engineers but mostly coding is relegated to skills like painting or photography interesting but not critical. This is reflected in schools where it still has such a low profile and take up, mainly because there are few adults that can code who aren’t working in industry earning big salaries. 

Every single piece of machinery you use has a microchip in it, it has at least some code (usually quite a bit). It is at the core of everything you do. Think computers and phones just for starters, even your car has a computer in it. Think of every website and app you use, the list goes on. 

But why should you learn to code. The strange point is you don’t have to, you will survive without it but you might be missing an opportunity. There is a very real chance you can create something wonderful and useful. You might even make a career out of it, or do it just for the sheer enjoyment.  

Where you go with all this is up to you and all depends on what you are interested in, or what kind of work you might do. This could enhance an aspect of your life, giving you another string to your bow. I would still say, if you are undecided, it is a skill worth learning for its own sake. It is a discipline of the mind. 

Is coding hard you might be wondering. Coding can become very challenging but it is only as hard as your ambition or creativity takes you. If you don’t know, you won’t know until you try and here is a golden opportunity for you to do just that. Where the journey takes you is entirely up to you.

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