Taking tutorials doesn't make you a noob


3 min read

Here's a word of encouragement. You aren't a noob if you take coding tutorials.

It is generally agreed that programmers become better at what they do when they take on projects. But here's something no one says

The projects you build while developing yourself consist of things other people have done. So if you need to take some tutorials to get part A to work, that's totally fine.

Let's see a real-life case-study.


Build a school management system

Frontend Task breakdown

  1. Get some existing designs from dribble
  2. Set up React project
  3. Create the basic UI
  4. Use graphql as the data layer
  5. Use Auth0 for identity management

Now, you only know how to execute 1, 2 and 3. To get 4 and 5 to work, you look through the docs and start trying to get it into your existing project. But you fail at it because you have no idea of what you are doing.

There's nothing wrong if you set up a new project and take tutorials on Graphql and Auth0, totally unrelated to your school management system. After completing those tutorials, you can immediately apply the knowledge you attained to your school management system. That's an efficient way to learn and grow.

How great engineers learn

Great engineers take the business problem presented to them. They then analyse this problem and chose the best tools for the job. If the job requires them to learn a new skill/technology, they quickly find a means to learn that skill/technology.

No one will pay you to figure out your way around a technology entirely from the tech's docs. If you combine tutorials, StackOverflow and docs to get the job done, then you have done well.

So, what's the general approach to learning new things?

Referencing this tweet on how software developers approach learning new things, we can see that most people combine tutorials, documentation and StackOverflow.

When you're just starting out, docs may not be ideal. As you grow, you'd learn how to read docs. Docs usually contain info you won't find in tutorials.

When is calling yourself a noob justifiable

Calling yourself a noob largely depends on your standards and situation. In my humble opinion, you are doing what a noob does if you blindly take tutorials for the sake of taking tutorials. When you don't have any clear goal for taking the tutorials you are taking.

Some people do it for the joy of learning. Others do it to have a bigger picture of how products are built. It's your life. Don't allow anyone (or your internal voice) to call you a noob for no reason. Thanks for reading.