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You probably know by now that learning to code—even if just a little—can seriously help your career in almost any field. But no matter how much you may want to code, there are plenty of barriers to actually doing it.

One of the largest barriers I’ve found is simply getting set up with the tools I need to write my code and view it. Developers say it’s easy (“You can just write it in text edit and then view in your web browser!”), but it never seems as accessible as they make it sound (plus, you always see them set up with fancy schmancy tools). In any case, I find that the process of flipping back and forth between two windows impedes my ability to learn in the early stages. I want to see the effects of the code I’m writing as it’s happening to make sure I’m on the right track!

Enter a brilliant new tool by General Assembly, designed to help remove some of those small barriers to getting your code on.

Called Dash, the tool walks you through PowerPoint lessons on HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Sounds pretty standard as far as online learning goes, but what’s unique about Dash is the user workspace: The presentation is in the top left corner, a window for you to practice your code in below it, and a window showing the output of your code—in real time—on the right-hand side. There are even little “checkpoints” throughout the lesson to make sure you’re implementing what you’re learning.

I’ve tried several online “learn to code” tools in the past, and was seriously impressed when I discovered this one. Each lesson is quick (I’m talking you can complete it in less than 10 minutes) and easy to follow, the projects feel valuable (such as building a personal website or making a blog theme responsive), and to top it all off, the design is beautiful.

Will you be any sort of coding master by the time you finish these lessons? Probably not. But going through Dash is a great way to dip your toes in the water and start to become a little more familiar with the big world of coding.


Photo of coding at computer courtest of Shutterstock.