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Learning how to write HTML and CSS has been on my list of things to do for ages, but is something which I've been working on via the Codeacademy over the last few weeks. 

Hieroglyphics genuinely looked easier to decipher at one point compared to the screens of code which somehow make a website work. Thankfully though, with a lot of trial and error, I'm beginning to get to grips with it, and it's actually starting to make a lot of sense.

So, what's Codeacademy? 

Codeacademy is an interactive online website for anyone looking to learn how to code. It offers a number of courses starting from the basics of HTML and CSS, and then moves onto more advanced features such as Jquery and Php. 

Each exercise gives you a friendly and easy to understand set of instructions on the left of each page. On the right hand side is an area where you add the code, either from scratch or adding to what's already there. If you've done everything correctly, hitting the submit button will make the magic happen and you can see the result, or if you've missed something, it will help you to find the problem and fix it.

Instead of just reading it from a book or a standard web page, the interactive element is an excellent way to learn as with anything practice makes perfect.  Once you've completed a section you're rewarded with points and badges - and who doesn't like a badge?

I got through the 'Web Fundamentals' course of HTML and CSS in around 6 hours, although as with any skill it's something which I'll be coming back to over time for a refresher course.

Three Good Reasons Why You Should use Codeacademy:

- It's free.

You don't get something for nothing is often the phrase, but you do with CodeAcademy which is, in it's entirety completely and utterly free (for the moment at least).  This makes it a darn sight cheaper than sending yourself on a course to learn, which from looking around can cost hundreds of ££££'s.

-There's plenty of help.

There always going to be times with things like this where you get completely stuck. Thankfully each course you work on has a handy forum  to discuss with other people who are bewildered as you, so you can work out the answer without too much fuss.

-You can do it in your own time.

  As it's all online you can work through the course when you want. I found it far easier to dip in and out rather than stare at it for hours. If you have an account, it saves your progress as you go with a handy bar to show you what percentage of the course you've completed. Each topic is split into courses, the courses into segments and the segments are then broken up by individual lessons, so you can start and stop incredibly easily when it suits you.

What needs Improving?

The Pace:

Both the HTML and CSS courses were written at nice pace, providing a good balance between being challenged but not spoon fed the answers. When it came to Jquery though, I felt like I missed something. Suddenly the difficulty curve got a whole lot greater and left me utterly baffled at some stages as to why I was typing in certain commands. It does seem at times that the course writers sometimes forget that you're new to the game so keep in mind that not everything is explained.

Am I Right, or Am I right?

  When you've added your code as per instructions, you click the submit button. Great 99% of the time, but there were occasions where I'd added the code correctly and it rejected it, or, had added the code incorrectly, and it said it was successful.

On one of the last lessons I rebelled, and didn't add a single line of the code needed. I clicked submit - 

'Success! you're done!'

'Errr..No Codeacademy. I haven't done anything.'  

This then began to spiral into a fully fledged argument. I end up having regular arguments with computers. Normally I'm right (well most of the time) but this one it made me doubt some of my previous work. It didn't feel as though I could trust the system enough to know that what I'd done was 100% correct, and I really do like to be right.

Moving On:

Codeacademy will only guide you so far. I've got my HTML, I've got my stylesheet but what do I do with them now? The answer - build a website, but you're left a little high and dry as Codeacademy doesn't mention this.

Anything to do with domain names, hosting, named servers, meta descriptions and the rest isn't there  Although it's not strictly in the remit of Codeacademy even a few links to other sites to teach you how to do this would be a massive help. Thankfully I know how to do this but I expect there are plenty of other people starting out who haven't a clue of how to turn their code into a fully functioning website. 


Overall it does seem like a fantastic product which I shall certainly be continuing to use  (Php is next on the list to learn). Although there are a few rough edges to an otherwise brilliant site, it shouldn't put anyone off learning how to code. 

Has anyone else used Codeacademy? What did you think of it?  

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