One recommended tool/resource for n00bs

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One recommended tool/resource for n00bs

These resources/tools were recommended by the Code4Lib community in Nov. 2012. Specifically for new coding librarians and library coders.

The whole thread of discussion is available at the C4L listserv archive.

  • Code4Lib listserv, IRC, journal (duh)
  • O'Reiley Head first series
  • Resources for lots of languages:
  • Catcode
  • Git or Github
  • Local communities of ruby, python users.
  • Practice! No matter the learning material, nothing will really sink in unless you apply it in the wild (like a small project).
  • A @rdio subscription. :) And a text editor with syntax highlighting.
  • Building things that help people matters, and for that you need empathy.
  • Vi- because it keeps me (you?) focused.
  • is a great site for questions.
  • Sublime Text & Zen Coding (recently reborn as Emmet<>). Saves a lot of keystrokes when writing web content.
  • Reusing people's public dotfiles<>,my favorite being Mathias Bynens'<>. Using a mature dotfiles collection can help bootstrap you to use the command line more and start grabbing vital tools from package managers like Homebrew or npm that you might not think of otherwise. I'm still a newbie coder but reusing dotfiles gives me the confidence to tweak things here and there without building a ton from scratch.
  • I'm taking "tool" to mean a piece of hardware. I'd recommend some old laptop with your favorite linux distro less desktop. Why? Well the main thing is that it puts them into a position where they're not learning to be a google copy/paste coder given the lack of the desktop, mouse and distractions like email. They can also learn to setup the server environment on their new dev box and eventually do all sorts of cool stuff.
  • Komodo Edit
  • A cheapie online webhosting account - like a $10 a month one - and multiple URLs. Multiple URLs will make them point a URL at a nameserver at least once ideally, and to understand that the two are separate and what you can do with domains and subdomains. The cheapie webhosting account will let them play with installing popular content management systems manually and with one-click installs. The most important thing is to break things and then rebuild them. The worst possible thing would be to build a website, leave it up as their public face or personal website, and be nervous to wreck it so notchange or play with different CMSes (another reason multiple URLs might psychologically be better - they encourage experimentation on one and the person can make the other a static goal oriented publishing area).The more the cheapie hosting account experience I have, the more I know what's cheap and easy to do, and the more I see very specific benefits to adedicated server. It makes me more intentional and able to better assess the value of services vendors provide.That's more web4lib ish, but ultimately if someone experiments enough they have to get comfortable with php. Scripting is the gateway drug.
  • BareBones's BBEdit
  • Version control. My own strong preference is for git (either managed locally or through, but really, just pick a version control solution and use it. If you value your work at all, it should be in version control. Smart use of version control can make finding and fixing problems in code much, much easier - but even fairly naive use of it leaves you with much, much better tools for fixing screw ups than you have without it.
  • I can already feel the collective rolling of eyes for this, but what about Twitter? It's not a guide or manual, but start following and engaging talented developers and library geeks on Twitter and you'll soon have more help than you know what to do with. Plus, no Zoia ;)
  • Google is more useful than any reference book to find answers to programming problems.
  • The best one IMHO is Sublime Text 2 ( Oh, okay, I can't resist - I'm going to cheat and list a second: everyone needs to stop writing just CSS and complement it with SASS (syntactically awesome stylesheets) & Compass - Totally invaluable for any front-end work. It makes CSS fun.
  • StackExchange (by extension, StackOverflow and the Libraries StackExchange site).