by Charlotte Seager
Tuesday 14 April 2015 02.00 EDT
From being seen as specialist skill practised by techies and geniuses like Q, coding is becoming an essential skill for more and more jobs. Photograph: Snap Stills/Rex Features
If you’ve ever accidentally leant on Ctrl+u on the keyboard and a box of random characters has appeared on the screen, then you’ll know what code looks like.
While these strings of letters, numbers and templates appear to many terrifyingly nonsensical, I’ve always been fascinated by how these symbols fit together to create a webpage. For those unfamiliar with coding – front-end is what the user will see, as it generally refers to everything user-facing.
Centres teaching this 21st-century skill are popping up all over the country and recently I found myself fulfilling my curiosity at a one-day front-end coding workshop in Islington, London.
While some may expect coding clubs to be full of unfashionable computer whizzes, silently tapping away on their computers, instead I found myself in a relaxed studio with stylish 70s floor lamps and a startlingly red “S” on the exposed brick wall, lit with vintage bulbs.
There was also a surprising mix of ages and sexes – our class was a mélange of careers from small business owners to digital designers and artists. Everyone had a different reason for wanting to code. “I’ve always paid someone to design my website and for a smaller cost I could learn to do it myself, so I thought why not? I’ll give it a try,” said Chris Cray, a freelance animator.
Steer instructors Sam, left and Tim, right. Photograph: Steer
Similarly Tom Butler, a website producer on the course, said: “I wanted to branch out and get involved in the design of our site. Learning front-end developing seemed an easy way to start.”
The computer languages HTML, CSS and Java sound complex, but it was surprisingly easy to learn. HTML is the furniture of your site, while CSS is the decoration which changes font colours and spacing – making everything look stylish. It was bizarrely rewarding to type out a command, refresh the webpage and see your changes pop up. If you have an artistic streak, you can also have fun experimenting with new colours, images and design.
It’s creative and surprisingly fun, but what is the point of learning to code? Will it actually benefit your career? The short answer is yes: software developing is currently the fastest growing industry in the UK and there is an international shortage of coders in the job market.
In fact, understanding software can be an essential skill for some startups. “Learning to code was fantastically worthwhile – I couldn’t have started my company without it. From the second day I was able to jump into the code and change our site,” says Silas Walton, founder of Watch Xchange and former coding student.
Another career benefit is learning to work with developers. Take John Hitchcox, digital art director of GQ, who learned to code when they launched an iPhone edition. “Now when I commission work from digital creatives I’m able to understand how things are made and, crucially, how long things should take and therefore cost.”
read article in full @ https://www.theguardian.com/careers/careers-blog/2015/apr/14/coding-isnt-just-for-the-next-zuckerberg-it-can-help-dentists-too
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