7 Free Courses to Get You Developing Today

Web development is a complex business, and no one just waltzes in and starts creating complex webapps or beautifully-designed UI experiences. That only comes with practice, and a great way to jumpstart that practice is with an instructional course. Luckily, the web development and CS community is rather open to teaching others—for free—which means a bounty of free courses on just about any topic you can imagine.

For the sake of this post, we’re focusing on free courses rather than those that cost money. Paid courses have their place, of course, but it’s often hard for beginners to justify hundreds of dollars for something they’re not sure they even want to pursue.

Getting started with the Web (HTML/CSS/JavaScript)

Who better than Mozilla to get you started on the web? This beginner-focused course will move you from essentially no knowledge about the web to building a simple website and publishing it online. You’ll start by learning about the anatomy of an HTML document, and wrap up with lessons on publishing to Github and a rundown of how IP addresses and domain names are connected.

Where to get started: developer.mozilla.org

The Bash Guide (Bash)

If you want to start developing websites or web applications—no matter with plain HTML/CSS or some complex framework like React.js (more on that in a moment)—you’ll eventually need to use a server of some kind (how about something from SSD Nodes?) to host it. With a server comes some challenges with Linux administration, the first of which is mastering the Linux shell. Maarten Billemont is constantly adding new chapters and making revisions as needed, so you know it’s up-to-date.

Where to get started: guide.bash.academy/

Chris Courses (HTML5 Canvas)

Chris’ YouTube series on HTML5 canvas development recently made the rounds on the Reddit’s /r/webdev subreddit recently, for good reason. His instructional videos on how to take advantage of the enormous-but-complex power of the canvas element have helped thousands already. The first video, linked below, gets you started on what canvas is good for, how to create and resize it dynamically, and how to draw basic shapes. In later videos, you’ll start interacting with canvas objects, and animating them for even more

Where to get started: youtube.com

Crypto 101 (cryptography)

If you’re going to create an application where you have users authenticating via passwords, you’ll want to know a thing or two about cryptography, the art of securely storing private information. Laurens Van Houtven, a principal at security-focused firm Latacora, began this project with a 45-minute presentation about TLS and expanded it into a comprehensive look into ciphers, public key encryption, signature algorithms, and much more. Plus, you’ll learn about “common cryptographic flaws”—so you can protect yourself from them, of course.

Where to get started: crypto101.io

React Fundamentals (React.js)

React.js, built by engineers at Facebook, is the new hot framework for building web applications, and thus demand is high—both from those wanting to learn and those looking to hire. No surprise, then, that React Fundamentals from Tyler McGinnis has more than 60,000 registrants. In just under 5 hours, you’ll cover 48 different lessons that cover everything from getting started to building “production ready applications.” The fundamentals are free, but the rest of the lessons will cost you.

Where to get started: reacttraining.com

The Node Beginner Book (Node.js)

It’s a few years past the Node.js heyday, but the JavaScript-based runtime for running backend web applications is still remarkably popular. The Node Beginner Book is meant primarily for those who know at least one other object-oriented language (like Ruby or PHP), but little JavaScript, and no Node.js. That means no lessons on the true basics, like variables and data types, but it does mean you’ll quickly hop “from novice to advanced novice”.

Where to get started: glitch.com

Oxford Deep NLP 2017 (natural language processing)

With lectures from professors and researchers from Oxford University, Carnegie Mellon University, DeepMind, and NVIDIA, it doesn’t get more better—or more comprehensive—than this advanced course on natural language processing. There are both PDF lecture slides and video of the lectures themselves, plus required reading and recommended textbooks. Basically, everything you need to get onboard NLP, without the exams.

Where to get started: github.com