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Ask HN: What's the “best” way for a senior to begin learning how to code?

My mother told me her 72 year old friend wants to learn "how to code" and that she mentioned Python. She's starting from zero, so my first thought was that could be prohibitively complicated to get to "Hello World".

I'm interested in suggestions about what language/platform/resources I should suggest. Something she could show off to my mom and their friends would probably have value to her.

  • 19 points
  • 5 days ago

  • @kcarter80
  • Created a post

Ask HN: What's the “best” way for a senior to begin learning how to code?


@johng 5 days

Replying to @kcarter80 🎙

I'm interested in this as well.

Reply


@blacksmith_tb 5 days

Replying to @kcarter80 🎙

Personally I am skeptical of any "learn to X" attempt that doesn't actually address some need - so learning to make a simple website for a club or nonprofit, or getting a BBC Microbit and making it act like a stopwatch for brewing a cup of tea, something semi-practical, will stick better.

Reply


@tomcam 5 days

Replying to @kcarter80 🎙

I’m going to give you an answer that I hope gets debunked.

It seems to me that if she can’t install Python then she may not in general be a good candidate.

In my experience a whole lot of programming jobs involves things not directly linked to programming, such as installing languages, deploying projects, dealing with internal tools, and so on. If you lack the wherewithal to install and run python after reading or watching a few tutorials, you may not be cut out for the job.

I say this as a guy who learns very very slowly and who has to work extra hard to get the basics.

Reply


@schwartzworld 4 days

Replying to @kcarter80 🎙

Part of why I ended up being a JS dev was the simplicity of the toolchain for beginners. Can't get much easier than opening the browser console, and you can write an entire program in a single file.

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@bestcrab 5 days

Replying to @kcarter80 🎙

I don't have a strong opinion on learning the syntax and choice of environment, but writing something like a sodoku or crossword solver(helper) would be pretty neat.

I'm also day dreaming about programs that define knitting and yarning patterns as a follow up. The ageism.

Reply


@elefantastisch 5 days

Replying to @kcarter80 🎙

https://www.freecodecamp.org

Bite-sized pieces, sensible order of presenting concepts, everything you need is in the browser.

Reply


@avmich 5 days

Replying to @kcarter80 🎙

> Something she could show off to my mom and their friends would probably have value to her.

Ugh, that's a high bar. I was going to suggest path "typewriter - print 'Hello world' - other commands - concept of memory etc.", but to have something nice-looking another path should be taken.

How about a simple web page? It can later be expanded. To have something good-looking in simple Python... hmm...

Reply


@cafard 4 days

Replying to @kcarter80 🎙

Python seems to me an excellent choice. It has good installers for Windows, it has a REPL, IDLE isn't a bad interface. The documentation is excellent. To be sure, it takes a bit of doing to keep Windows 10 from interpreting "python" as "go to the Windows store and offer them a version to download." But that you have to do just once.

If you are helping, you could get her set up, and set up also PIP. A simple web scraping project could help her get started.

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@jpindar 5 days

Replying to @kcarter80 🎙

I would suggest replit.com. No setup involved, it (and all your code) is always available on any computer or phone.

Once you log in, it's one click to choose python (or another language), one click to 'Create repl', and you can start typing code. One click to run it.

There's also tutorials, various templates to start from and other people's code to learn from.

Reply


@logicalmonster 4 days

Replying to @kcarter80 🎙

I'd consider recommending something like having this person build a website for a club or hobby they have with something like Wix or Squarespace. If they're currently fairly non-technical, this is enough of a challenge that gives them something concrete to work towards and eventually show off to their friends. And while it's not necessarily programming exactly to build a website with one of these tools, the thinking and research process is in the same ballpark as you have to figure out how to solve layout problems and use search engines to research how to approach tasks. Once they have a website in place and they want to proceed further, then they have a platform in place to perhaps do something else.

Reply


@terrycody 4 days

Replying to @kcarter80 🎙

Bring up some books like Head First series, very friendly!

Reply


@kognate 5 days

Replying to @kcarter80 🎙

I would suggest an iPad with Codea. Codea has a game called 'Cargo Bot' that teaches the basics of algorithmic thinking without the nomenclature that trips up a lot of people. The codea development environment has lots of tutorials and examples that let people explore and play with things in a nice way.

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@patleeman 5 days

Replying to @kcarter80 🎙

Codecademy, no setup, just follow the lessons.

Reply


@sogen 4 days

Replying to @kcarter80 🎙

I found Snap! very good for creating creative stuff

https://snap.berkeley.edu/

Works in browser.

Also, Racket/Dr Racket is a very nice app with a lower learning curve and very very good tutorials.

https://racket-lang.org/

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