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  1. #1
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    very BIG question!

    I have a HUGE open-ended question for the more experienced developers. What is the best method to learning a programming language OUTSIDE of traditional brick and mortar educational facilities or even .com college?

    How would a person most become proficient in one language...say, asp.net, in about 1 year under his own steam? What learning methodology, books, websites, papers, and publications would enable an independent learner to do this?

    I am not lazy, I just would like to go about the process in the most systematic, efficient way possible.

    Thank you for your input!

  2. #2
    The doctor is in... silver trophy MarcusJT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jkaiser
    I have a HUGE open-ended question for the more experienced developers. What is the best method to learning a programming language OUTSIDE of traditional brick and mortar educational facilities or even .com college?

    How would a person most become proficient in one language...say, asp.net, in about 1 year under his own steam? What learning methodology, books, websites, papers, and publications would enable an independent learner to do this?

    I am not lazy, I just would like to go about the process in the most systematic, efficient way possible.

    Thank you for your input!
    I am entirely self-taught - everything I know about computers (from using/installing/configuring hardware and software to the programming/development that is my source of employment) I have picked up by myself over the years. Even though I did study computing at primary and secondary school, I took these as soft options, since I already knew far more than the classes covered.

    I have explored the various computing fields out of fascination and enjoyment, and have gained my knowledge mostly through expermentation and reading of relevant articles (from the web and magazines), as well as the reference documentation for the languages as provided by the developer (e.g. Microsoft's VBScript documentation). However, I have never read guides, tutorials, and books - they just never really engaged me. Setting myself goals (in terms of projects) has also been an important part of the learning experience for me.

    But that's not to say that it's the best route for you. Everyone learns in different ways - most people seem to thrive on "Beginners Guide To...." style books/guides, but they just don't work for me.

    By now you should be well aware of what learning techniques work best for *you*. Then it's simply a case of applying those techniques to the topics that you want to learn. This probably sounds like stating the obvious, but it's worth looking back to things you've studied in the past and what you liked and didn't like about the way they were taught. Then use that to tailor your learning process to your personal requirements.

    So that's my take on the general topic of self-study/learning.

    If you're asking for ASP.Net learning resources, then there are already plenty of threads on that topic in the .Net forum (and "Tutorials & Resources" subforum), so there's no point reeling off the same old stuff here.
    MarcusJT
    - former ASP web developer / former SPF "ASP Guru"
    - *very* old blog with some useful ASP code

    - Please think, Google, and search these forums before posting!

  3. #3
    SitePoint Wizard Rick's Avatar
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    The majority of everything I know about computers I have taught myself through experimentation and practice, I've also picked alot up from magazines and keeping upto date with the news regarding the areas I am interested in.

    More recently I have been reading books to try and speed up my learning process - Kevin Yank's book was a great help for me picking up PHP and I'm learning Python with the aid of thge O'Reilly book Learning Python.

    Everyone learn's differently I guess, so you need to experiment to find out what works best for you. Try beginners guide type books - they work for alot of people, and you'll realise quite quickly if your not getting anything out of it.

    Like with most things though, the best way to learn is just constant practice
    Rick

  4. #4
    The doctor is in... silver trophy MarcusJT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zoo
    Like with most things though, the best way to learn is just constant practice
    MarcusJT
    - former ASP web developer / former SPF "ASP Guru"
    - *very* old blog with some useful ASP code

    - Please think, Google, and search these forums before posting!

  5. #5
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophybronze trophy asp_funda's Avatar
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    well, I'd say is that Internet is bursting full of websites offering free tutorials on just every aspect of web design & development.

    Its a learner's paradise, as I often say. Just get all the necessary tools to work with(like IIS for ASP, PHP/IIS or Apache for PHP, etc.), get some tutorials & get going. You'll be coding even in your dreams before you know it.

    a good place to start from the basics would be W3Schools website at
    http://www.w3schools.com

    & then you can search for tutorials on specific languages.

    Also I'd say that you should have a good book on the topic(what ever you are learning), b'coz you may not be online everytime & you may like to read through a book that switching windows between your tutorial & practice application. Also, a book can be more detailed on the subject than a tutorial.
    A tutorial is just a way to get started quickly.
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  6. #6
    The doctor is in... silver trophy MarcusJT's Avatar
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    I agree, however I would add that W3Schools is a pretty awful site IMHO...
    MarcusJT
    - former ASP web developer / former SPF "ASP Guru"
    - *very* old blog with some useful ASP code

    - Please think, Google, and search these forums before posting!

  7. #7
    ********* Wizard silver trophy Cam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by M@rco
    I am entirely self-taught - everything I know about computers (from using/installing/configuring hardware and software to the programming/development that is my source of employment) I have picked up by myself over the years. Even though I did study computing at primary and secondary school, I took these as soft options, since I already knew far more than the classes covered.

    I have explored the various computing fields out of fascination and enjoyment, and have gained my knowledge mostly through expermentation and reading of relevant articles (from the web and magazines), as well as the reference documentation for the languages as provided by the developer (e.g. Microsoft's VBScript documentation). However, I have never read guides, tutorials, and books - they just never really engaged me. Setting myself goals (in terms of projects) has also been an important part of the learning experience for me.

    But that's not to say that it's the best route for you. Everyone learns in different ways - most people seem to thrive on "Beginners Guide To...." style books/guides, but they just don't work for me.

    By now you should be well aware of what learning techniques work best for *you*. Then it's simply a case of applying those techniques to the topics that you want to learn. This probably sounds like stating the obvious, but it's worth looking back to things you've studied in the past and what you liked and didn't like about the way they were taught. Then use that to tailor your learning process to your personal requirements.

    So that's my take on the general topic of self-study/learning.

    If you're asking for ASP.Net learning resources, then there are already plenty of threads on that topic in the .Net forum (and "Tutorials & Resources" subforum), so there's no point reeling off the same old stuff here.
    Wow, that's me! Never done a course or read a book (although I think I'd like Harry's book), all self-taught. I learned however, by reading over code and trying to mentally dissect it. It's just how I learn I suppose, give me a completed product and a week and I'll have rewritten it and I'll know how to do it again. That's how I learned PHP and from there i've done some C# (needs the docs at hand though), some Java and now I'm moving on to some ASP because it's in demand

  8. #8
    The doctor is in... silver trophy MarcusJT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DJ P@CkMaN
    I learned however, by reading over code and trying to mentally dissect it. It's just how I learn I suppose, give me a completed product and a week and I'll have rewritten it and I'll know how to do it again.
    Snap! Somehow forgot to mention that, and I guess that's also why I always try to present well-structured solutions (which do the job *properly*) in posts rather than quickly written snippets (which just "do the job"), because I only too aware of how much bad code is out on the Internet and I want people reading my posts to see how (I think) it *should* be done.
    MarcusJT
    - former ASP web developer / former SPF "ASP Guru"
    - *very* old blog with some useful ASP code

    - Please think, Google, and search these forums before posting!

  9. #9
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophybronze trophy asp_funda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by M@rco
    I agree, however I would add that W3Schools is a pretty awful site IMHO...
    why awful?? Ok, it might not rate but still, for someone starting out in this world, its an ok first website
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  10. #10
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophybronze trophy asp_funda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by M@rco
    Snap! Somehow forgot to mention that, and I guess that's also why I always try to present well-structured solutions (which do the job *properly*) in posts rather than quickly written snippets (which just "do the job"), because I only too aware of how much bad code is out on the Internet and I want people reading my posts to see how (I think) it *should* be done.
    Precise & structured like a Doctor.
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  11. #11
    The doctor is in... silver trophy MarcusJT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by asp_funda
    why awful?? Ok, it might not rate but still, for someone starting out in this world, its an ok first website
    Perhaps "awful" is going too far, but it's certainly NOT the first place that beginners should be sent to. It doesn't explain things very well, the examples (and techniques) are often quite dated, and some stuff there is IE-specific (which regularly seems to cause some confusion for beginners). Hence it is not exactly a shining example of a recommended resource in my book, but that's just my opinion.
    MarcusJT
    - former ASP web developer / former SPF "ASP Guru"
    - *very* old blog with some useful ASP code

    - Please think, Google, and search these forums before posting!

  12. #12
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophybronze trophy asp_funda's Avatar
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    Yeah, some things aren't explained well, some are quite dated, & some are IE specific only. Agreed.

    But then, do you have another website that houses tuts on the range of topics that W3Schools does??
    I'd be glad to hear about it.
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  13. #13
    The doctor is in... silver trophy MarcusJT's Avatar
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    No I don't. I prefer to authoritative sites which are well focused on a single topic (or small number of associated topics), rather than a site which covers a broad range of topics but less well, simply because the content tends to suffer, as I have mentioned.
    MarcusJT
    - former ASP web developer / former SPF "ASP Guru"
    - *very* old blog with some useful ASP code

    - Please think, Google, and search these forums before posting!

  14. #14
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophybronze trophy asp_funda's Avatar
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    Good reply. Nothing less expected from you.
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  15. #15
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    Ok, what are some of these "authoritative" PHP sites you speak of? (gotta love horrible grammer!) I've been reading through the PHP.net documentation, although I've only made it as far as "Using Strings". Can't I get a copy of Kevin Yank's book by joining his fan club or something?!?!

  16. #16
    The doctor is in... silver trophy MarcusJT's Avatar
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    PHP? You're asking the wrong guy...!
    MarcusJT
    - former ASP web developer / former SPF "ASP Guru"
    - *very* old blog with some useful ASP code

    - Please think, Google, and search these forums before posting!

  17. #17
    SitePoint Wizard boxhead's Avatar
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    I have learnt everything I know about the web in 4 years and have found the following:

    1. Dont get bogged down. There is TONS to learn - languages, tecneques, updates etc etc etc. I have found the best way to learn is to do. Start creating a site. Think of what you would like it to do and create it, try it, change it, try a different way of achieving the same thing, ask others.... The more you do, the more you will understand. I hate learning for the sake of it - I always end up asking 'why would i want to do that?' if you have a purpose the understanding comes easily( most of the time!)

    2. Understand. If you use forums, books or pick apart other's sites, try to understand WHY and HOW they have done it. Whenever i get help, the first thing I do is pick apart the script and try to rewrite it, or use it in a different senario to truely understand how it works.

    3. Trust. Sometimes it is best just to use someones script if it does a job and is too complicated for you to understand. About 2 years ago I was given an actionscript which randomised an array and I had no idea of how it worked, but it was part of something else I was learning, so I didnt want to get bogged down with info. I went back a few months later and picked my way through it.

    Overall, the best way is everyway. Use every bit of help you can. Join forums such as this, search google groups, buy books, download sites you like and try to duplicate them - most of all have fun (when it comes to coding there will be times when you want to kill... KILL I TELLS YA!!!! )

    enjoy

    monkey

  18. #18
    SitePoint Addict Pace's Avatar
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    www.webmonkey.com was the best place for me to start learning. I tried w3c but found myself getting bored easily. Webmonkey take a more light hearted and more thought out approach to the different areas.
    Slick!

  19. #19
    SitePoint Evangelist compwizard's Avatar
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    I am also entirely self taught. I know (or am at least familiar with) a multitude of languages/technologies - PHP, ASP, .NET, VB, Basic, C++, Java, MySQL, Access, html, css, javascript, wmi, vbscript, a little jsp, as well as linux (mostly redhat), windows, networking, etc. (I'm sure i forgot some)

    What I have found about learning languages, (at this point, I can learn the basics of a language in about an hour) is that getting a good solid book is ALWAYS the way to go. Tutorials, even good ones, get you up and going quickly, but few tutorial cover material thoroughly or in a logical manner. They are more like quick and dirty methods rather than learning the theory of the language/technology.

    Bottom line: PICK UP A GOOD BOOK -> use internet for reference once you know the basics of a language
    Compwizard
    "There are 10 kinds of people in this world -- those who know binary, and those who don't."

  20. #20
    SitePoint Guru
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    I did do the self-taught thing, too. I am not really a programmer though - I am more the tech guy on the hardware and OS side. I can do some html programming and can change/adjust PHP and Perl scripts enough, to make 'em work for me. I never had enough time to go deep enough into a programming language and then to retain the knowledge.

    Christoph
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  21. #21
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophybronze trophy asp_funda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jkaiser
    Can't I get a copy of Kevin Yank's book by joining his fan club or something?!?!
    I don't think so.

    There are a lot of tuts & articles at SitePoint, on PHP. Also, you can get a start at www.phpnoise.com. I got my date & time functions cleared there.
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  22. #22
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophybronze trophy asp_funda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by M@rco
    PHP? You're asking the wrong guy...!
    Yeah, really the wrong guy. I mean, to ask about PHP.

    Ok, but hey M@rco, can you tell some good sites for ASP, besides 4Guysfromrolla, aspin, aspfree, SP.
    Our lives teach us who we are.
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  23. #23
    SitePoint Zealot Octal's Avatar
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    Whatever method you employ to learn, expand your knowledge and/or better yourself - no matter the field - Bruce Lee summed it up best by saying:
    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Lee
    "Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough we must do"
    Octal - All your base-8 belong to us
    "Knowing is not enough, we must apply.
    Willing is not enough, we must do." - Bruce Lee

  24. #24
    The doctor is in... silver trophy MarcusJT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by asp_funda
    Ok, but hey M@rco, can you tell some good sites for ASP, besides 4Guysfromrolla, aspin, aspfree, SP.
    You mean besides the ones in the Important ASP Resources thread located in the ASP: Tutorials and Resources forum?



    Anyway, let's stay on-topic. This thread is not about PHP or ASP.
    MarcusJT
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    - *very* old blog with some useful ASP code

    - Please think, Google, and search these forums before posting!

  25. #25
    SitePoint Member
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    I've always found that to have an actual project that needs to be done yesterday (with a paying employer or client preferably) to be one of the best ways to learn! Total immersion! The trick is to have requirements well defined and a model first, then keep zooming out of focus during design and reaccessing your implementation. A good technical reference is a plus+


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