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For Experimenting: Chrome’s Console and jsFiddle
This is a very good way of learning by trial and error, because it’s so accessible and there’s zero fear. You can’t do any damage — none of your changes are saved anywhere, and all it takes is a single tap of the F5 key to revert everything you’ve done and start over. Another important thing to understand about the console is that you’re not limited to one-liners: You can write several lines of code. To begin a new line without executing the code you’ve entered so far, hit Shift+Enter.
For Reference: Mozilla Developer Network and jQuery API Documentation
Another key reference resource is the jQuery API Documentation. Just like the MDN, this API documentation may seem daunting, scary, and altogether unfriendly at first. And yes, none of these reference resources will handhold you through gentle explanations — but they make up for it by being comprehensive, very trustworthy, and authoritative.
Coders don’t necessarily have to know everything — a big part of the work is knowing where to look when you need to figure something out. Learning how to read and understand the official documentation is an important step on the road to improving your coding style and knowledge. References are powerful tools in the quest to learn by doing, because each topic usually stands on its own: you can quickly look up something you need more information on, get the core of what you need, and carry on coding.
And Finally, One Optional Book
Code Simplicity is not required reading by any means, but if you do feel your knowledge may benefit by reading a book, this is a great one to start with.
Do You Learn by Doing?
And now I finally get to ask you: How do you approach learning to code? Do you learn by doing, or are you more of a reader? What are the resources you’ve made use of in your quest to become a coder? Let me know in the comments!