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programming projectsTimes are tough, and as society moves increasingly towards digital services and everything online, there is never a lack of jobs for those with tech skills The Hottest Tech Jobs [INFOGRAPHIC] The Hottest Tech Jobs [INFOGRAPHIC] When I was little, I wanted to be a trash collector. Then a postman. Then I decide to up the ante and become an astronaut, while most of my classmates were more concerned about becoming... Read More . If you’re sitting there thinking “you know, I really ought to learn some new skills”, then peruse this list and find something that appeals to you.

You never know – magic might happen. Start learning some programming today, and you might find yourself sitting on the next Twitter, or perhaps the next MineCraft A Latecomer’s Introduction To Minecraft [MUO Gaming] A Latecomer’s Introduction To Minecraft [MUO Gaming] Minecraft, the block-based sensation that took gaming by storm, is now well over three years old. It’s almost hard to believe it’s been that long since the first alpha was posted – and it’s equally... Read More .

Unity 3D Game Engine

Unity is a cross-platform 3D engine and development environment, though not limited to gaming. Its success comes from focusing on the needs of indie developers, and the ability to “author once, deploy everywhere”. In short, it provides everything a budding game developer could need. And there’s a free version to get you started.

programming projects

My interest in Unity is that the Oculus Rift Oculus Rift Will Change Gaming Forever Oculus Rift Will Change Gaming Forever The StarTrek Holodeck - the epitome of a virtual immersive environment - has been a sci-fi dream for far too long now. A week ago, Oculus launched a Kickstarter project for a $300 consumer VR... Read More developer kits will support Unity out of the box, which means I’ll be able to fully immerse myself in any 3D worlds I create.

Where to start? This MineCraft clone is a complete video tutorial series.

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And the Unity guys themselves have a wealth of video material. Or for those who prefer to read: Introduction to game development using Unity.


For web development, the combination of PHP server scripting and MySQL database is arguably the king of the Internet. Even the website you’re reading right now is built on this technology – but specifically WordPress – the most widely used CMS in the world.

Although you could start from scratch, the best way to get into web development with PHP and MySQL would be to begin by customizing WordPress, and then move on to PHP frameworks such as CodeIgniter. These are well established and give you a good structure upon which to build your site. Starting completely from scratch can often leave you with kilobytes of messy code.

programming project ideas

Nearly all web hosts support PHP/MySQL and creating a local server How To Try Out Wordpress, Joomla & More Quickly & For Free In a Virtual Machine With Bitnami How To Try Out Wordpress, Joomla & More Quickly & For Free In a Virtual Machine With Bitnami We've talked about setting up a local server before, but the process is still fairly complicated and there's lots of quirks and incompatibliities if you're trying to run it on Windows, leading to nothing but... Read More is just as easy, so you can get started right away.

Where to start? Make your own WordPress Widgets! How To Create Your Own Basic Wordpress Widgets How To Create Your Own Basic Wordpress Widgets Many bloggers will search for the perfect Wordpress widget that will do exactly what they want, but with a little programming experience you may find it's easier to write your custom widget. This week I'd... Read More

Ruby On Rails

As a PHP/MySQL fan, I’ve found it hard to learn Ruby on Rails. It’s so radically different, but undoubtedly a powerful web development system that lets you concentrate on prototyping websites quickly by providing defaults and standard views. With Ruby on Rails, adding features is often a case of simply installing a new package (such as Facebook login, or the Twitter bootstrap web template).

If you’re tackling web development for the first time and enthusiastic about getting a complex system developed quickly, Ruby is probably for you. Don’t run into it with a preconception about how programming should be done, and you’ll do just fine.

programming project ideas

The only downside to this is that it’s relatively unsupported. I had to make some serious configuration changes to a VPS just to get it running.

Where to start? This free online book will cover pretty much everything you need to get started.

Arduino What Is Arduino & What Can You Do With It? [Technology Explained] What Is Arduino & What Can You Do With It? [Technology Explained] If you're like me, tinkering with electronics is something you'd really like to be able to do - in theory at least - but the realities of time constraints, lack of knowledge and few rewards... Read More

Arduino is an open source electronics prototyping platform, and while it may not land you a new job, it will give you serious geek cred. Arduino makes it easy for absolutely anyone to create complex electronic projects and rapidly prototype ideas. From laser cat defence turrets Forget Pies & Brandy: 8 Arduino Projects To Fill Your Holidays Forget Pies & Brandy: 8 Arduino Projects To Fill Your Holidays Has your Arduino been sitting around gathering dust? Well, no more. Today I’ve scoured Instructables to find 8 fun, family friendly, or just really cool Arduino projects for you to have a go at these... Read More to self balancing robots and home automation, really, anything is possible. Along with 3D printers What Is 3D Printing And How Exactly Does It Work? What Is 3D Printing And How Exactly Does It Work? Imagine if you could print out three-dimensional objects straight from a printer in your home. When I was a kid in primary school, I thought it would be awesome if I could print pizzas out... Read More , the Arduino is about empowering anyone to be a maker.

programming projects

The Arduino process involves programming logic using a simplified form of C programming on the computer, then uploading your logic to the Arduino board through a standard USB port. The Arduino device has a number of IO pins so your software can react to whatever inputs are presented. You can even give them the ability to talk to the world, or give the world control over your mood lighting How To Set Up Arduino Web Control Without An Ethernet Shield How To Set Up Arduino Web Control Without An Ethernet Shield For the last few weeks, I handed over control of the mood lighting in my studio to viewers during the live broadcast of Technophilia Podcast - you can see the results of that in the... Read More .

Arduino can be costly compared to some of the other programming projects here – you will find yourself wanting more shields The Top 4 Arduino Shields To Superpower Your Projects The Top 4 Arduino Shields To Superpower Your Projects You’ve bought an Arduino starter kit, you’ve followed all the basic guides, but now you’ve hit a stumbling block - you need more bits and bobs to realise your electronics dream. Luckily, if you have... Read More or elaborate sensors 8 More Cool Components For Your Arduino Projects 8 More Cool Components For Your Arduino Projects So, you're thinking about getting an Arduino starter kit, but wondering if some basic LEDs and resistors is going to be enough to keep you busy for the weekend? Probably not. Here are another 8... Read More – but it also brings your programming into the physical world. If you do come up with a really cool device, you might even think about raising production funds with a Kickstarter to bring it to the world.

Where to start? The MakeUseOf Arduino archives, of course!

Make a Mobile App With iOS

Though you will need a $99 developer licence eventually in order to publish in the iTunes App Store How To Submit Your Own App To The iTunes App Store How To Submit Your Own App To The iTunes App Store So you've programmed your first iOS app and you want to get it uploaded and submitted to the iTunes store? Well, as I found out recently, it's not quite as easy as it sounds. The... Read More , anyone can get started by downloading the XCode development environment for OSX (Windows users; you can’t develop for iOS, you do need a Mac). XCode’s visual designer makes it really easy to connect complex GUI components to your data model, and there’s a vast amount of tutorials. Sure, you can throw together a simple iPhone app without learning any coding How To Create An iPhone Or Android App Without Any Coding Skills How To Create An iPhone Or Android App Without Any Coding Skills If you're really eager to make a mobile app, a website called Buzztouch may well be the web-based solution for you. Buzztouch is essentially Content Management Software for iOS and Android. It provides a template-based... Read More at all, but seriously, where is the challenge in that?

Where to Start? Available via iTunesU, the Stanford University iPhone development course is a top notch.

Whatever language or programming project you go with, the important thing is to just get started. You head may be full of fantastic ideas for projects, but ultimately ideas are cheap and it’s the process of turning them into products that takes real work and dedication. These languages are nearly all free to have a go, so try them out and find something that resonates with you. You might be a born programmer!

  1. AK
    February 9, 2013 at 5:05 am

    Rather do it on Android. It's free and if you want to publish on Google Play then it will cost you $25 and will sure be published.

    • James Bruce
      February 9, 2013 at 9:11 am

      That's a good point, and I've already apologised for the oversight earlier - it's great for hobbyist developers, but not so much consumers. That's why the Android store is basically full of crap.

  2. Eric Jay Palomar
    February 9, 2013 at 3:03 am

    code igniter is good

  3. Ron Lister
    February 8, 2013 at 8:42 pm

    Very inspirational, I have wanted to start a project like this to get my kids interested early this is just what ive been looking for. Thank you James.

  4. Nancy B
    February 8, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    OK that was like reading Greek to me!
    Obviously I'm not going to increase my Geek level anytime soon!

  5. Cody
    February 8, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    Why suggest making iOS apps instead of Android apps!? The Android SDK is wonderful and learning Java is a great idea already.

    Not to mention you could load an android derivative on about any device anymore, allowing you to develop things that aren't just for a phone or tablet you buy new.

    • James Bruce
      February 8, 2013 at 8:51 pm

      That's an excellent point Cody, apologies for not including it. You're right - Java is significantly easier to learn than Objective C, though there's far less potential for revenue. As a learning platform though, Java is ideal. You can also tie Java apps easily into Processing for Arduino linkup.

    • Théophile Nzungize
      February 12, 2013 at 3:35 pm

      Here, take my like sir

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