3 free online learning resources for developers

At what point can developers sit back and relax, confident they are on top of their game? Never. Albert Einstein said, “The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.” This is a universal truth that strongly resonates with the developer community. As witnesses of, and participants in, technology’s constant advancement, we know learning is ongoing.

Thankfully, we have a number of free training tools at our disposal.

Free developer training tools

Learning for learning’s sake and learning to advance your career are worthy goals. The following three developer training tools can help you simultaneously accomplish them.

Aquent Gymnasium. The founders of Gymnasium are on board with lifelong learning. In fact, they say lifelong learning is “central to Aquent’s cultural values” and that there is “a clear connection between learning and career advancement.” That’s why they offer their online courses, tutorials, webinars, and more for free.

Gymnasium’s courses will help you build the skills you need for current and future projects – or your next job. They offer Full Courses (3 to 6 hours), Gym Shorts (under an hour), and Take 5 courses (tutorials under five minutes). All courses are taught by industry experts. The Full Courses and Gym Shorts involve video instruction, (optional) quizzes and assignments, a final exam, and certification for those who pass.

A few courses in the Full Courses options include (but are not limited to):

  • Coding for Designers: HTML basics, CSS basics, Bootstrap basics, and more.
  • JQuery Building Blocks: Navigation, animation, and server interaction; JavaScript; HTML/CSS; and more.
  • UX Fundamentals: User research, wireframing and prototyping, user testing, and more.

Example courses from Gym Shorts:

  • Defeating Busy: Learn how to estimate, plan, track, and manage your time to complete projects.
  • Grid Layout in Bootstrap 3: Bootstrap basics, prototyping with Bootstrap, responsive layout, and more.
  • Creating a WordPress Theme: Intermediate HTML/CSS, WordPress themes, WordPress tags, and more.

Take 5 covers practical skills ranging from web design to career development in short videos.

Codewars. If you want to combine your passion for coding with your love of competition (and collaboration), then Codewars is for you.  

You’ll be faced with real code challenges, but first, you have to prove your skills. To sign up, choose your language, and then Codewars will give you a code that doesn’t execute properly. You must figure out why and submit your answer.

Once you’ve proven yourself, you’ll:

  • Sharpen your skills by working on kata created by the community.
  • Train on kata by solving it with your coding style right in the browser (use test cases (TDD) to check it, and retrain with different approaches.
  • Earn ranks and honor as you progress through higher-ranked kata.
  • Gain collaborative wisdom by working with the community.
  • Create your own kata based on your interests.

Codewars alum Martin Genev says, “I swear, @codewars is better than college.”

freeCodeCamp. freeCodeCamp has one mission: “To help people learn to code for free.” Started in 2014, it is a donor-supported, tax exempt, nonprofit organization that creates thousands of videos, articles, and interactive coding lessons with study groups located around the world.

Participants complete coding challenges and build projects within the freeCodeCamp community. They are able to earn self-paced certifications, with each one taking about 300 hours (though freeCodeCamp says some people may take longer).

Certifications include:

  • Responsive Web Design.
  • JavaScript Algorithms and Data Structures.
  • Front End Libraries.
  • Data Visualization.
  • APIs and Microservices.
  • Plus five more.

A lot of questions about freeCodeCamp, including information about their open-source stance and how to donate, can be found in this About freeCodeCamp – FAQs post written by founder Quincy Larson.

According to a recent tweet by Quincy, a popular coronavirus-tracking website with over 30 million visitors a day was built by a freeCodeCamp alum, 17-year-old Avi Schiffmann. Avi turned down an $8 million ad offer because he didn’t want to ruin the UI with popups, be contractually obligated to keep up the site, make changes he didn’t agree with, or slow down the site with ads and trackers.

Avi is a perfect example of why you’ll want to check out freeCodeCamp for yourself.

Invest in (free) learning

Life is busy, but we should never be too busy to invest our time in increasing our knowledge. We have access to amazing (and free) training tools, including Intuit’s Developer Portal and these free resources for children while we work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, that will help us make a difference and advance our careers.

One of the many reasons I love being an Intuit Developer is that Intuit challenges me every day to learn new tools that can solve customer problems. Intuit provides Tech Learning courses and gives employees two full weeks to work on pet projects every year. And, Intuit is big on improving developer productivity, offering new features based on developer feedback.

Like Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin is all about learning. He said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” With the aforementioned free training tools, you can invest your time wisely and expect huge dividends.