Tutorials are my favorite way to learn. I prefer them over video or any other format. But, from my experience, you can follow dozens of tutorials and get the illusion that you have learned a lot without actually learning anything.

When I started app development, I didn’t understand everything I was doing. Moreover, I didn’t know where I’m heading. That’s because I didn’t have a clear goal, and all I did was following random tutorials.

The tutorials made me familiar with the development environment, the tools, languages, etc… but many principles were missing. I learned how to achieve specific tasks but not how to build an entire app on my own.

I’m not saying that tutorials aren’t helpful. I still look for tutorials when I struggle with learning a new subject. But to make the most out of it, you shouldn’t follow it blindly and move on. So how should you benefit from tutorials?

Set your goals

Set your goals first before starting with any tutorial. Ask yourself why are you following it and what do you want to learn. Keep your goals in mind and make sure you’re approaching them.

Change the example

An important thing to do when following a tutorial is to change the example. For instance, if the tutorial is about to-do lists, build a notes app. They have a lot in common. You have to create a list of notes where each item has specific properties. If you can develop one, you should be able to make the other. By changing the example, you force yourself to focus on the main aspects of the tutorial.

Don’t copy-paste

Another point is that you should not copy the code. Always type it yourself, name your variables, and define your classes. As you type, think of every line and understand it. Play around by removing and changing some lines to understand the entire code. Also, search the documentation for anything new and learn it deeply.

Repeat by yourself

After you finish the tutorial, try to build something similar on your own. Don’t refer to the tutorial this time. Rely on your memory instead. You may refer to the documentation, yet, if you need the tutorial, then there is something you didn’t fully understand.

Summing it up:

  1. Set your goals first
  2. Try to change the example
  3. Type the code yourself
  4. Build something similar on your own

6 Thoughts to “How to get the most out of programming tutorials”

  1. really nice and interesting
    but I want to ask you how to choose the tutorials that help me in learning code from ZERO

    1. Thank you Rabih!
      Start with basic tutorials labeled for beginners. If you jump to a higher level topic, it’ll be hard, even if it’s a step by step tutorial, since -usually- they assume you already know the basics and have some experience.
      Also, you can choose a series of tutorials and stick to it. They usually start from zero and proceed gradually, and many are titled 100 days of X language challenge.
      Good luck!

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