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15 Free Tools to Learn the Basics of Coding

Scott Gerber
Scott Gerber

These 15 tools are great resources for anyone looking to learn to code on a budget.

Coding might seem like a daunting, time-consuming and expensive skill to learn, but these entrepreneurs have learned the essentials with free tools.

As an entrepreneur, you need to learn a little bit about everything that keeps your business running. That means you should try to understand some of the coding required to further your web operations.

While it isn't necessary to immerse yourself in the skill, a basic understanding will help you communicate with your coders effectively and ensure they achieve your vision for your web offering. A variety of free tools are available that allow you to dip your toes into the coding waters and learn some basic techniques.

We asked 15 entrepreneurs from YEC to weigh in on the best free tools for learning the basics of how to code.

1. Code Avengers

"Code Avengers has built-in tools, video tutorials and quizzes that all provide a way to apply what you are learning through the free online course. It's easy to follow for anyone, including someone who has never tried to code before." – Angela Ruth, Calendar

2. Codecademy

"Whether learning the basics of HTML/CSS or trying to understand the benefits of data science, has some great courses. The courses have projects and quizzes just like a traditional education source, but they are easy to use at your own pace. While not the best long-term, it can get you off the ground." – Michael Averto, ChannelApe

3. Coursera

"Coursera has great tools that teach the fundamentals of computer science taught by some of the best university professors. You can take classes such as Fundamentals of Computing and Computer Architecture. I refer back to some of the courses if I ever need a refresher." – Jared Atchison, WPForms

4. edX

"Several years ago, I wanted to learn how to code my own websites and apps so I didn't have to rely on a full-time webmaster. I enrolled in six free computer science courses on (developed by Harvard and MIT). Now I've developed two apps for clients, and we're launching one this winter to go with our newest e-commerce web property." – Kristin Marquet, Creative Development Agency LLC

5. freeCodeCamp

"freeCodeCamp is a great place to learn to code, and you can feel good about doing it. Start with the basics of HTML and get through to advanced coding. They offer up to 1,200 hours of instructions, as well as up to 800 hours of open-source coding for nonprofit websites. freeCodeCamp coders have provided approximately $1.7 million worth of code to various nonprofit and charitable organizations." – Erik Bullen, MageMail

6. Hour of Code

"For most people, learning how to code seems like a long and tedious task; that's why most people don't get started. I recommend committing to a one-hour challenge via Hour of Code to see how much fun it can be. After you do a couple of small projects, you will be hooked." – Alejandro Rioja, Flux Chargers

7. Khan Academy

"As a self-taught professional software developer, I recommend Khan Academy. It has tons of in-depth videos and interactive exercises. It invested heavily in data science to study learning, and it shows. Its cheerful animal guides promote a growth mindset by providing much-needed encouragement." – Kevin Tao, NeuEve

8. Mimo

"Mimo is a free mobile app that allows you to learn to code on the go. Whether you are interested in learning how to build an app, a website or a game, Mimo makes it easy to understand the basics of each platform. I am constantly on the move, so I enjoy the luxury of learning basic code no matter where I am." – Duran Inci, Optimum7

9. MIT OpenCourseWare

"If you're trying to learn a language like Python or JavaScript, spend some time on MIT's OpenCourseWare platform learning computer science fundamentals. Having that background will make learning specific languages easier, because you'll have an understanding of the underlying mechanics." – Ashish Datta, Setfive Consulting

10. PyLadies and other meetups

"I've been a member of PyLadies for over five years; it's a free meetup for women working with Python. What your local meetup offers depends on where you are. PyLadies PDX does at least one beginner-friendly class every year, as well as a place to connect with more experienced programmers willing to help out newer programmers." – Thursday Bram, The Responsible Communication Style Guide

11. Swift Playgrounds

"If you have no previous coding experience, Swift Playgrounds, an educational app from Apple, is the perfect way to learn the basics while solving puzzles in a graphical environment. Swift isn't the most useful language outside the Apple ecosystem, so if you already have a grasp of the basics, try taking a JavaScript course on Code School." – Vik Patel, Future Hosting

12. Treehouse

"Treehouse is a fantastic site full of high-quality video tutorials. Its library has grown significantly to include all things related to coding, and it now offers tutorials on web design as well." – Ben Lang, Spoke

13. Visual Studio Code

"Visual Studio Code is a programmer's text editor from Microsoft. It's free and has features for both experienced developers and learners. VSC is particularly strong as a JavaScript development environment, with helpful features like IntelliSense for highlighting and smart completion, built-in Git support, and integrated debugging. You can code in any editor, but VSC is one of the most helpful." – Justin Blanchard, ServerMania Inc.

14. WPBeginner

"I think a lot of people dive into coding only to get discouraged because they're not building things quickly enough. If you start by creating a WordPress site, you can use free guides and tutorials on WPBeginner to get started. Once you've built a couple of websites, try to build a plugin and go from there." – Syed Balkhi, OptinMonster

15. YouTube

"There are many YouTube videos, all of them free, that walk you through the basics of coding. There is nothing more important in learning than getting your hands on it. Watch the videos and go step by step to build your first HTML site, then go onward from there." – Andy Karuza, FenSens


Image Credit: welcomia/Shutterstock
Scott Gerber
Scott Gerber Member
Scott Gerber is the founder of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses. Gerber is also a serial entrepreneur, regular TV commentator and author of the book Never Get a “Real” Job.