Writing a tutorial is a good way of sharing how you solved a programming problem. Programmers use tutorials to learn how to write the code for themselves instead of depending a all ready written code. Tutorials can be a quick way to learn how to do something. What do you need to write a good tutorial?
4 Items to include in a tutorial
- Step by step instructions
- Code snippets
- Version of software or tools
Step by step instructions
By providing step by step instructions, you can break the tasks down into easy and understandable pieces. Your readers will be able to follow what you learned and do it themselves.
Sometimes, steps aren’t enough. You need to show your reader what happens. A screenshot can show you what to expect, look for or do. A good screenshot compliments what you want your reader to do next.
Make your code samples easy to copy and to understand for new and experience programmers. You can use a tool like CodePen.io to include your code. Or use one of these 4 Ways to Add Code Snippets.
Version of Software or tools
Your software and tools change over time. New versions come out. Let your reader know what version of the software that you were using.
What about video?
Not a writer? You can record a video tutorial instead of writing one. Gregg Pollack on Hackernoon collected 10 Tips to create the best worst programming tutorials. If you prefer video, keep these tips in mind so your video tutorial isn’t the worst.
Writing a tutorial can help you to understand a new concept or programming problem thoroughly. Use these items to help explain what you have learned. When you teach others, you learn new things about the concept that you are teaching.
What is Copywork? Copywork is the process of recreating an existing work as closely as possible in order to improve your own skills. Writers and painters have used this technique to learn how to get better at their chosen craft.
Painters, Writers and Copywork
How do painters learn how to paint? Painters learn their craft by copying the work of their masters. By copying their masters work, a new painter learns how to use color, perspective and other techniques that make a painting great. When you visit a museum, you may see an artist studying and copying a famous painting.
Writers and bloggers get better by copying their favorite writers. They pick out a piece of writing they like and write it down by hand. By copying your favorite writers, you learn how to choose words, what works in a story and get better at writing. You can use the practice to incorporate what you learn into your own writing.
Why write code by hand?
When you learn new code, you have two choices. Type it in by hand or copy and paste. In Learn Ruby the Hard Way, Zed A. Shaw, explains that you learn how code works by entering it by hand, not by copying and pasting. Copying and Pasting is quicker, but you don’t learn how it works. You type it in by hand, so you can learn to read, write and see how the code works.
Copywork lets you focus learning a programming language and not worry about getting the UI right. You can learn only so much from building a beginner app like a To Do List. If you want to learn what a programming language can do, the next step is to find a simple app, copy it and build it in your chosen programming language. Dave Ceddia explains how you can use copy work to learn react.
You can learn or improve your creative skills by copying an existing app. Programmers can use it to learn what they can do with a programming language. Or you can use it to learn how to build or experiment with different UIs.
Have you used copywork to improve your skills?
What are podcasts? They are radio programs that you can take with you and play anywhere. A podcast can have a single host talking about a subject or with guests. Why listen to a podcast? Podcasts are a good way to keep update on industry news and learn new ideas. As a developer, you don’t always have time to read industry blogs or new sites. A podcasts can help you stay current when you have free time like going for a walk or commuting to work.
I have gathered a short list of podcasts that I recommend that you listen to. They range from learning how to run a software development company, conversations on tech and being a better developer.
What is it like to run a software development company? CodePen Radio takes you through how they run CodePen. You learn how the team manages technical, structural and people issues. Each week is a different topic that Chris, Tim and Alex discuss.
Do you like learning from other developers who have built successful business? If so, Indie Hackers podcast has interviews with developers who have built profitable online businesses.
Greater than Code
Do you like to have insightful conversations about people, tech and more? Greater than Code focuses on people and code. They have a diverse group of people who talk about people, tech and other topics.
Hansel Minutes Podcast
Do you have to be an entrepreneur and a developer to talk about tech and entrepreneurship? Scott Hanselman, a programmer at Microsoft, proves that you can be enthusiastic about entrepreneurship and work for a company. He talks about technology, people, culture, programming and much more.
Want to be a better coder? Jonathan Cutrell of Developer Tea talks about tips and techniques on coding. He interviews other developers about how to be a better coder.
Podcasts are a great way to learn more about any topic that interests you. By listening to these podcasts you can keep up to date on ideas about coding, technology, people and entrepreneurship. Do you have any podcasts that you recommend for developers?
APIs or application programming interface provide you with a way to integrate services or features with your website. Before APIs, you need to partner with companies in order to use their code in your website or app. You have a WordPress website. Can you use an API to create additional features? With their WP API, you can build solutions unique to your WordPress website.
What can you do with WP API?
You can use the WP API to build solutions that integrate with WordPress or use it as a back-end database. Maybe you need to create new features that talk to an external API. I found four examples that show you how to use the WP API to integrate with WordPress and an external API for Instagram.
Fetch Random Posts
Chris Coyier demonstrates how to use the WP API to randomly fetch posts from WordPress. In his example, he uses WordPress to store quotes about design and randomly displays one to you.
Go to Quotes on Design to see the api at work.
Retrieving Posts in C#
What if you want to use the WP API with a different programming language? With WP API, you can use a programming language like C# instead of PHP to retrieve posts from WordPress. Hendrik Bulens chose to use ASP.NET MVC as the front end to retrieve the latest blog posts from WordPress.
Voting for Blog Posts
You spend time writing blog posts and want to allow your readers to vote on whether or not they liked the post. In the past, you need to write a plugin using PHP. You can use WP API to accomplish this. Use this example from Delicious Brains to create your blog voting.
Integrate WordPress with Instagram
If you use Instagram, you may want to include photos from your account. WebDev Studios show you how to use the API to integrate Instagram with WordPress.
These examples show you how to use WP API to modify WordPress and work with an external API. If you want to learn more, Chris Lema has a guide that contains resources and tutorials on Getting Started with APIs and WordPress. You can also check out Getting Started with using an API.
When you write a blog post that features code, you’ll want to show your code. But, you don’t want it to act like code. What are your choices for adding code to a blog post? You can manually show your code, use a plug-in or embed it into your post. Which one do you choose?
1. Code it manually yourself
Write the code to style it yourself without using a plug-in or hosting your code on another website. You can create a code snippet with HTML and CSS. With the HTML tags <pre> and <code> and CSS, you can style your snippet to work with your design.
2. Use a plug-in
If you prefer not to code it yourself, your next option is to use a plug-in. For WordPress, you can use a plug-in called Code Snippets. With Code Snippet, you can manage your snippets easily.
Don’t want to code it yourself or use a plug-in and you have a github account? You can host your code on gist.github.com. They provide you with a way to embed code snippets on your blog.
Are you a CodePenner? If you are and have a self-hosted WordPress blog, you can embed your pens or use the CodePen Plugin. CodePen takes care of the code and formatting for you. Refer to CodePen’s documentation on the best method for you.
Whether you create code snippets with code, use a plugin or host on gist.github.com or CodePen, these methods provide 4 different ways to show your code.