There are many free tutorial websites for learning any programming language. However, learn a computer language also involves documentation. For Java, one of the ideal options is CodingBat. With its help, you can become well-rooted in any the language and easily solve all problems related to it!
The ability to code has now become a crucial skill in the workplace. For this reason, an increasing number of resources that guide students through the whole learning process continue to arise. In fact, websites like CodingBat allow users to try their hand at two programming languages. These are Python and Java; two of the most commonly used languages.
What is CodingBat?
CodingBat is a free website that has many live coding issues. The purpose of the site is to build the coding skills in Python and Java both. The project was started by a computer science lecturer at the prestigious Stanford University, Nick Parlante. Once you work yourself through numerous practice problems, you can get a great understanding of how the code works.
CodingBat’s Interface – Easy to Use?
One crucial criterion for judging any instructional software is looking at the way the concept is transmitted. Regardless of the information, the software contains, if the delivery is not up to par, then it is useless for the learner. In terms of the concept it transmits, CodingBat could benefit from some improvements. While the interface is simple and straight-forward, its simplicity is not favored by many.
The lesson plans have a minimalist nature. The students are thus hardly left with any recourse if they don’t get a certain concept. Plus, searching for CodingBat on YouTube results in numerous videos that explain the lesson quite well to lost participants.
Is It Suitable for Everyone?
Novices will surely feel the lack of emphasis placed on theories in the lessons. Meanwhile, those just looking for practice will like the syntactical practice involved. Of course, this doesn’t mean beginners can’t learn using CodingBat. However, it does lack the comprehensive explanations that beginners would prefer.
How Are Lessons Delivered?
All the lessons present on CodingBat are divided into various categories. Each concept comes with different examples that reinforce the principles delivered previously.
To understand it better, think about how a pupil might learn English. He or she will dissect the language’s anatomy. The student will also learn about the prepositional phrases, past participles, gerunds, nouns, and verbs. In the same way, a student using CodingBat will be taught all the essential components of the coding language. They will also have to do the practice exercises that make use of the principle taught.
Nick Parlante, the founder, believes that short and practical live coding problems are essential. Since these make up the basics of more involved tasks, these short problems are the key to becoming a master programmer.
He also believes that coding is essentially a mixture of basic elements that form a complex function. For this reason, his course emphasizes on repeating the basics.
Problems with Lessons Delivery
CodingBat can be said to have a stripped-down nature of a text editor. Plus, there is hardly any context-assistance. As a result, students might end up making big mistakes. Moreover, they may also struggle in finding the source of the error.
On the other hand, many like the bare-bones setup. It removes all the crutches that beginners tend to rely on. Instead, the setup cultivates in them positive habits from the start.
Once the problems are completed, students are provided with instant feedback. This tells them if they have successfully solved the issue.
Is the “Help” Section Helpful?
The webpage offers explanations for why the answers are what they are in its “Help” section. However, the explanations are quite complex, and it will be hard for beginners to understand.
Moreover, on the about page of the website, the founder explains why the help section seems to be particularly underdeveloped. He says that CodingBat is not a complete instructional course to learn the language. Instead, it is meant to supplement a course that beginners are taking.
Overall, the help section contains a wealth of information. The only problem is that it must be contextualized properly. Doing so can help students easily pass the more challenging hurdles faced while learning any new language.
Perhaps the biggest limitation is that it covers just two languages. Moreover, the webpage is a project started by a passionate professor. Thus, it is highly unlikely that he has the time or the team to expand further.
Moreover, when compared to other websites, CodingBat looks quite old-fashioned. Some say that aesthetics are superficial. However, we’ve become quite used to the modern interface. So, some can find the website cumbersome to use.
Pros & Cons
+ Exercises Focusing on One Topic
Each exercise present at the end of the chapter only focuses on one concept. For example, it could either be on arrays, recursion, strings, or logic, etc. one at a time. Due to this, the students are not overloaded with knowledge. Plus, they get to improve their skills.
+ Helpful for Testing TDD (Test Driver Development)
The student can be provided an array of tests that pass or don’t. As a result, the learner can make each of the tests pass one by one until all the tests become green.
+ Has All the Documentation Needed to Get Started
The website has a page filled with a basic explanation of all chapters.
+ Features a Basic Text Editor
The text editor doesn’t provide any context-assistance. So, users only get feedback after compilation. Due to this, learners tend to focus on the language syntax right from the start. When compared to other modern IDEs, CodingBat helps in building good habits.
+ Has Numerous Basic Problems
The problems are categorized in different categories. Plus, students can also track their progress using Progress Graphs. The graphs show errors and green tests done over time.
– No Guide for Getting Started
Since there is no help on how to get started, users can become confused. Beginners might find the learning curve to be quite steep. Plus, despite a lot of documentation, it takes time and initiative to begin learning.
Top 5 Best Alternatives to CodingBat
Due to the few shortcomings of CodingBat, users might want to opt for something else. Some suitable alternatives include the following:
1. Codecademy: Interactive & Fun Coding
Codecademy is an online interactive platform offering coding classes for various programming languages. These include Python, C++, and Java. Moreover, it also provides lessons in markup languages like CSS and HTML. For learners wanting to benefit fully, there is a pro version as well. With this, users get quizzes, live help from advisors, realistic projects, and personalized learning plans.
2. Free Code Camp: Prepare Yourself to Become a Developer!
3. Code.org: What Will You Create?
This is another NGO that focuses on encouraging students to learn computer science. The website features free coding lessons. At the same time, it targets the schools to encourage them to include additional computer science lessons in their curriculum.
5. Coderbyte: Improve Your Coding Skills
Coderbyte is built for those wanting to practice their programming skills. Almost every day, new challenges are added. Users must apply their algorithmic thought process on these problems. The website helps to improve users’ ability to work on common problems. These problems include logic, algorithm, and mathematics questions.
Is CodingBat Ideal Choice?
Despite the cons CodingBat has, it is still a helpful tool. It is a simple and straightforward way for students that want to improve their coding knowledge. Once they work their way through the challenges on the website, they can become significantly better in Java or Python. However, it is not to be used as a replacement for any course or class.
To put it simply, it is meant to complement your programming classes. With its help, you can become well-versed in the basics of the new programming language!