Learning programming is a great thing, I mean who wouldn’t? The ability to create something from scratch or solve issues using code is just amazing, but the truth is the beginning may seem difficult and blurry, you keep making mistakes over and over again, or worse you don’t know where to start.
So in today’s post, I’m interviewing a really experienced programmer who’s more specialized in the web development field. Meet Kris Czerwiński, a web developer from Poland, he’s been doing this for more than 20 years now, I asked him a few questions about beginner programmers and the most common mistakes they are making when starting out and how to get better with time.
When did you start learning programming?
I’ve started programming when I was 9. It was basic on Atari 800XL.
I think I’ve started to make a living from programming when I was 25, before, I preferred to be a security expert, network administrator, and project manager.
How old are you now and do you think your education played a huge role in becoming a successful programmer?
I’m very old 😉 I don’t have Computer Science Education. I’ve made only a post-MS diploma in Database Management Systems. I don’t think that education is so important, most people I know and work with don’t have a diploma in CS.
What do you wish you knew when you were first starting out?
That there would be internet and it will be so powerful 😉
What would be the first programming language you recommend every beginner programmer to start with?
It depends on what You want to do with it. If you want to build websites, portals, etc, start with PHP, Python, and JS. If you want to build games start with Unity and C#, for mobile java. The main thing is that you should learn many of them at the beginning to be able to see the difference (Note: Don’t try to learn more than one language at a time). Understand backend, frontend, etc. Then you can select some you like that suit your tasks. I don’t like the modern attitude that you can only learn one language like JS and that’s all. Narrow specialization is a weak attitude if you want to become really really good.
And I don’t think that it really matters. Maybe it’s a good way to learn a very clean language at the beginning like C where the mess and lack of optimization are punished.
As a web developer, We know that HTML & CSS are easy to learn but newbies find it hard to get PHP, can you elaborate on that?
I don’t think that PHP is hard to learn. And starting from HTML & CSS and going to PHP is not a good way in my opinion. I would rather start with backend. If you understand how the backend works it’s easier to become a great frontend developer but being a web developer and trying to be a backend developer is much harder. Then you only try to focus on how to make things done and not how to make it done in the most optimal way.
The biggest problem is that people don’t know and don’t care how everything works on a very core level.
In your opinion, What are the most common mistakes that beginner programmers do today?
They think that you can make a career with narrow specialization, they don’t care whats behind code they are using. They don’t know the basics of how computers work, memory, processor, disk storage, databases, etc. Also, many people try to get programming job because it’s well paid and the truth is it’s one of the most boring jobs on the planet if you don’t find it fascinating and stick on some junior or mid position in a corporation.
And many people try not to code but import everything they can from a composer. Sometimes instead of building a 5 lines function people are importing external code and then it’s really hard to work with it after a few years. A good code should work without any problems for at least 10 years no matter if the PHP version was changed or we had a zombie apocalypse.
What’s one important advice you want to give to every beginner programmer out there?
Treat it like a hobby, you’ll never have to work.
Speaking of programming jobs? Is it better to work as a freelancer at the beginning or just stick to a day job? And when to start a startup or SaaS business?
If you stick to a day job you’ll never be able to do your own project and research. It’s a good idea to be a freelancer if you have a part-time job. Programming is so well paid that you can make a living out of it even working part-time.
If you have an independent source of income like a part-time job you can start faster. SaaS is not just about programming you’ll have to learn a lot about business, sales, marketing, taxes, etc so its good idea to start as soon as possible but don’t try to depend on it. It should be rather an extra job at the beginning
How can beginner programmers get better at coding fast?
I was making a lot of small projects for myself at the beginning and when I felt more comfortable with coding I’ve taken a big project from a customer and worked nonstop not to fail. It taught me a lot and because I didn’t fail it opened many possibilities and connections.
Do I have to love Maths or be good at it if I want to be a super programmer?
No, I don’t think so. It helps but it’s not something that is necessary. Not everyone is building an AutoCAD or creating 3d game engines.
What are the most popular communities out there that can help newbies out?
What is the needed skill set that every newbie programmer should have? I.e patience, speed… etc.
I think you must be fascinated by it. Otherwise, programming is boring and painful,
you’ll have days when you’ debug for a whole day just to find one “;” or ”dot” in the wrong place. If you won’t be able to laugh at it then programming is not for you 😉
What are your most successful projects so far and tell us more about Pulno?
I hope my most successful project is still before me. As a programmer every time you look at your code from one or three years before you’ll tell yourself that it’s not good and this time you’ll do it better. For now, Pulno is my latest project. We’ve been building it for over a year now. It’s an SEO Audit tool. Our goal is to build a solution that will allow users to make an automated audit that is as good as an audit made by an SEO expert. Then we want to show people step by step what should they do to make it better. Even if they are not experts in SEO or Web developments.
Thank you, Kris, for this great interview, I’m sure it’s going to help many beginners out there who are struggling right now and trying to be better.
Also, if you’re new to programming and you’re most likely are then you should read my post about the Program Development Process in order to understand how the software development process work before starting any huge project
Feel free to leave any questions in the comments section below if you have any.