Code Academy or Code School?

So I have been thinking about refreshing my computing skills for quite some time over the last few months.  Studying computer science in the past I managed to learn to program successfully in Java and C.  I have also dabbled a bit with Python, C++, Ruby and Lisp on and off again over the years as well.  But I have never really got around to really dedicating myself to learning one of the more popular programming languages around these days, JavaScript.  The TIOBE Index ranks JavaScript the 8th most popular language as of November 2016  so I don’t think it will lose its relevance anytime soon.  I really don’t know the real reason why I neglected JavaScript for so long, it’s been around since 1995 and I have certainly heard about it enough over the years.   However,  I do know I need to correct this situation and now is as good a time as any.   Beyond JavaScript because I am not much of a designer I have also managed to ignore other front-end web development presentation technologies such as HTML and CSS.  At this point I have a pretty rudimentary understanding of  HTML and knowledge of CSS.  What I do know is dated and certainly requires a refreshing.   I have also seen or heard about the emergence of so many new frameworks like Angular 2 and React.js, and Backbone.js that I want to learn more.

Some Useful Resources

The best resource or reference by far on the web for everything to do with HTML/CSS/Javascript is the Mozilla Developer Network.  It’s the one link I have bookmarked and will come back to time and time again on my new adventure and journey to learn about front-end web development.

If books are your style searching  the web I found several great resources for learning about HTML/CSS and JavaScript. I found the non-free books by Jon Duckett HTML and CSS: Design and Build Websites and JavaScript and JQuery: Interactive Front-End Web Development are mentioned often as good books to learn from.   I also found the free book by Shay Howe Learn to Code HTML & CSS: Develop and Style Websites highly recommended and freely available to read on the web.  After reading and skimming several chapters of this book it seems like a great resource that will be invaluable in helping my understanding of developing and styling websites.  Another great free book available online that is highly recommended by many to learn JavaScript is Eloquent Javascript: A Modern Introduction to Programming.

Why Code School?

Beyond books and written material I was looking for more interactive learning and visual aids because learning HTML/CSS is a visual medium.  The resources I found mentioned quite a bit and highly recommended online were Code Academy and Code School.   Code Academy is a great resource because it is free to access the basic content and all the courses available.  I have done The Learn HTML & CSS: Part 1, Learn JavaScript and Learn Sass components offered at Code Academy and found them enjoyable.  There are a lot of interactive exercises to perform and I found it great for trying things out.  I see myself trying out the rest of their courses when I get a chance.  However, the only issue I have with Code Academy is the fact that there are no videos/screencasts to follow along with.  So you get what you pay for I suppose with Code Academy.  I also had an issue with the interface doing the Sass course thinking I was doing something wrong but changing to another web browser sorted things out.  Consequently, I can say Code Academy seemed a little less polished than Code School.

On the other hand, Code School has videos/screencasts and slides that you can watch and learn along with.   This added benefit comes at a cost though.  Code School is a paid service.  There are about 64 courses offered and the cost is $29/month normally.  Not prohibitive by any means.  I tried Code School out this weekend during a free trial period and liked what I saw.  The videos seem good and the instruction is what I was looking for.  Both Code Academy and Code School are comparable.  If you are on a budget Code Academy is good enough in my opinion to see if you want to continue learning about the subject matter and not spend any money.  However, for a little investment you get a little more with Code School because it is a bit more polished than Code Academy.   I knew I wanted to learn about this stuff so the decision for me was easy.  I chose Code School.  I took advantage of a Black Friday promotion Code School was offering this weekend of $15/month for 6-months which worked out to $89 in total.  Not too much so it seemed like a good investment in learning.   I  have access to both Code Academy and Code School now, so there is no downside either way.  I figure 6 months should be enough to take my time to work through the course material at a reasonable pace.