Coding All-in-One For Dummies Cheat Sheet
Coding is equal parts vocabulary, logic, and syntax. Coding may at first seem intimidating, but with practice, though, it’s easy to get comfortable with its terminology, concepts, and structure. Understanding coding is not unlike learning a new language: Use it often enough and you’ll find yourself able to speak, think, and write in code. Still, it’s natural for beginners to have questions. There are many coding resources available to you, both on- and off-line. Ask around and you’ll find you’re not alone — many other people are learning. After all, coding is a never-ending education. Master one facet or another and a new one opens in front of you.
Basic Coding Vocabulary
Coding has an extensive vocabulary that to laymen can seem like impenetrable techno-babble. Whether you’re reading coding-related article online or speaking to a developer at work, you may hear words that you have not heard before or that have a different meaning in a coding context. Here are some common vocabulary words to know:
- General web development terms:
- Server: A computer that hosts website code, and that “serves” website code when requested by a “client” computer. Servers usually sit in large warehouses with thousands of other servers, and are similar in size and power to your home computer.
- Client: A device used to access a website, including desktop or laptop computers, tablets, or mobile phones.
- Designer: An artistic professional who decides how a website will look and feel, along with the ways users will interact with the website — such as, for example, clicking, swiping, scrolling, and so on.
- Wireframe: An illustration created by designers that show in detail a website’s layouts, images, and color schemes.
- Developer: An engineering professional who writes code to turn wireframes into useable websites. Based on the type of code written, developers are referred to as front-end, back-end, or full stack.
- Back-end: Everything that happens behind-the-scenes to make the front-end perform as intended. Back-end developers write code in back-end languages like Ruby or Python to create functionality like logging in users, storing user preferences, and retrieving data like comments on a photo.
- Terms related to front-end languages:
- HTML (Hypertext Markup Language): A language used to place text, images, and other content on a webpage.
- HTML tag: HTML instructions, usually appearing in pairs. Browsers apply special effects to text between an opening
<element> and closing
</element> HTML tag. For instance, the
<h1> tag renders in a browser as a large bolded headline and can be used like this:
<h1>Dewey beats Truman</h1>.
- HTML attribute: Attributes or parameters for HTML tags that modify the tag’s behavior. Attributes are always placed in the opening HTML tag. For example,
hrefis the attribute in the following anchor tag (used to create hyperlinks):
<a href="http://www.google.com">Search engine</a>
- CSS (Cascading Style Sheets): Code that modifies HTML on webpages and that controls the appearance of content by changing text size, image size, and other attributes.
- Variable: A storage location that’s given a name and that contains numerical data or text (referred to as strings) for later use.
- If statement (conditional): A code instruction that tests a condition that usually includes variables, such as
x < 18, and executes code you write when the condition is true.
- Function: A name given to a group of programming statements for easy reference and use.
- Terms related to back-end languages:
- Ruby: An open-source programming language best known for use in web programming.
- Rails: A framework designed to make creating webpages with Ruby easy.
- Python: An open-source programming language used on the web, in scientific applications, and for data analysis.
References and Resources for the Beginning Programmer
- HTML cheat sheet: Most commonly used HTML commands
- CSS cheat sheet: Most commonly used CSS commands
- HTML tutorials: Tutorials and articles for the web maintained by Google
- CSS tutorials: Tutorials and articles for web programming, with a focus on CSS
Performing in a Coding Job Interview
You’ve filtered coding job postings, networked with dozens of people, created a great portfolio site, and finally landed one or more interviews. Use these tips to maximize the chances of turning the interview into an offer for employment:
- Prepare diligently: Review the company’s website, blog posts, news releases, tweets, and any other social media to learn more about the company’s culture, technologies, and past clients. For public companies, browse annual reports to get a sense for past performance and future strategic goals.
- Advocate for yourself: You know what you want and why, so make sure you communicate that to your future potential employer. Think about why you want to work at the company, which product you’d be most excited to work on, and what you want to spend the next few months and years learning technically. If you don’t have any preferences or thoughts, it can be hard for an employer to believe that you’re excited about the company and that you’ll have the motivation to keep learning on the job.
- Sharpen technical skills: Assessment of technical skills are the big part of any coding interview, so review code for programs you’ve already built and make sure you understand why you made certain decisions and used certain technologies. A big part of your job will be deciding what tools to use and when, and employers want to see as soon as possible your thought process on how you choose your tools.
- Show your fit: Many candidates are technically competent but fail the fit interview. Make sure you understand before the interview the company’s culture and values so you’ll have time to see whether you’ll fit in.
- Ask questions: Demonstrate your passion by asking questions that are not answered on the company website. Your interviewer has likely just spent thirty minutes asking you personal questions, so feel free to ask some personal questions of your own about the role, the work, or the company.
- Follow up: After the interview is over, your interviewers will categorize you as a definite hire, possible hire, or rejected candidate. Many people fall into the possible hire category, and following up with your interviewers can increase your chances of receiving an offer. After your interview, send a short email thanking your interviewers, reinforcing your key skills, and addressing any weak areas that came up during the interview. Additionally, include a brief reference to any personal interests you shared with your interviewers to help them remember you.