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Why you learn nothing from tutorials


Maybe you do that: you want to learn something new and you are wondering where to start. Everything seems so strange and different. You are heading to Google and ask for a good tutorial to learn it by example. Of course you find lots of hits, because most people ask somewhere for a good tutorial to learn something new.

But I am wondering: did you really learn something from a tutorial yet or do you just keep asking, hoping to find any good one day which will really help you get started?

I don’t believe in tutorials anymore. I did a lot. I am pretty sure that everytime I started to learn a new programming language I looked up a tutorial and tried to learn from that. But it always became as hard and unfulfilling as it could get.

It always starts very simple and often you get lots of hints on what you will be able to do, when you will have finished the tutorial one day. Adrenalin is running out of your nose as you can’t wait to learn about all that crazy stuff, so you are heading to the next chapter.

Now there are three types of tutorials:

Of course there are those that trick you at the beginning and you get the feeling, that this might be the first or maybe the only tutorial that is different. And then, just a couple of chapters later you realize that it is just one of the three above or a mixture of them.

The worst about a tutorial is, when you kind of enjoy what you are doing, but you get the feeling that it might be good to do something else with your time. Or you feel derailed in your progress, because the author seems to have different priorities than you.

My consequence always has been to find a good reference book or sample code from others. What you need next is an idea what you want to achieve. A small application, solve one simple task, … It should be something small, should not involve forking of processes or metaprogramming in the very beginning.

Then, just start hacking.


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