My personal ramblings and snippits (mostly tech-related)

Curated Programming Resources

(Mirrored from Github)

First published: February 16, 2015


For the past few months, I’ve been making an attempt to participate more in online communities. I’ve been sporadically answering questions on StackOverflow for a few years now, but wanted to branch out a little.

The latest site that I’ve been participating in is /r/learnprogramming, which is a subreddit dedicated to (you guessed it) learning programming. As I started contributing, I discovered that their collection of resources wasn’t very comprehensive (and that it was getting increasingly difficult for me to remember all the resources available). So, I decided to make my own collection of resources.

It’s definitely a work-in-progress, and has lots of incomplete segments, but I’m reasonably happy with it for the time being. The canonical (and most up-to-date) version can be found on Github, but I thought I’d mirror it here as well.

Table of contents


Motivation and goals

Currently, we’re living in a sort of “programming renaissance”. Programming and computer science is become more popular then ever – major initiatives like the Hour of Code is popularizing learning programming across the world, and the number of people interested in majoring in computer science is growing exponentially.

As a consequence, there is an increasingly huge number of resources and tutorials being produced for beginners who want to learn to code, ranging from books to online tutorials to interactive websites to massive open online courses (MOOCS) like Codecademy and Coursera.

While this is great, it can also be overwhelming for beginners – there are almost too many resources available, and it’s difficult to figure out where to start.

This page is meant to help solve that problem – to present a curated list of resources for people who are either new to programming, new to a particular topic, or want to advance their skills past the beginner stage. This page doesn’t try and list every single resource available, but instead links to resources that are guaranteed to be high-quality.

Where do I start?

If you know what you want to learn about, great! Jump to that section, start browsing the links, and find something which works for you.

If you’re not sure where to start and which language to learn, some good beginner languages are:

Python and Java are both languages that are commonly used to teach programming to beginners in schools and universities, and so will have a wide variety of resources available to help you learn. They’re also both widely used in the industry and so are useful languages to have in your toolbelt.

Web development has been very popular lately, so there are many resources for learning HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, also making it suitable for learning. It also requires little to no installation and configuration on your computer. All you need is a text editor to write code – the code will run on your web browser.

Scratch is a little different from other languages. It was designed from the ground up to be easy to use and learn – instead of typing text, you drag and connect together “blocks” to form programs, making it a very visual language. As a result, Scratch is a good language especially for younger children (elementary schoolers, middle schoolers) or for people who dislike typing.

How this page is organized

This page is subdivded into three parts – first, a “General resources” section that links to sites that tend to deliver high-quality content about a variety of topics, and a “Specific resources” section that provides resources on specific programming languages or topics.

In general, most resources available will fall between two categories – online courses, and books + tutorials. Online courses tend to teach using video lectures, try and be more interactive, and try and emulate the structure of a course similar to ones you might take in college. In contrast, books and tutorials teach via written text and allow you to set your own pace.

Which resource should I pick?

Whether you prefer learning by watching a video or reading text is really a matter of personal preference. I personally prefer reading, but your learning style might be completely different. You may need to explore and browse several different resources before you discover how you best learn.

In addition, you’ll find that most links, whether they’re online courses, tutorials, or books, tend to focus on either one of two things:

  1. Some resources focus more on coding and syntax – the particular details and rules about how a programming language works.
  2. Other languages will focus on programming, semantics, or computer science theory – in other words, how to use a programming language to write something that works.

In general, the second model is ultimately where you want to end up with. Programming is all about taking a problem and breaking it up into small pieces until the pieces are small enough that you can write instructions telling the computer to perform each piece. The ability to break down a problem and see how to write a program is an ability that’s independent of any specific programming language.

However, jumping straight to the second type of tutorial can be a little overwhelming to some people, so it may be beneficial to work through the first type of tutorial which focuses more on syntax before moving on to the second.

In contrast, some people can’t effectively learn this way – the details don’t really “stick” until you see how they can be practically applied and used. In that case, you may want to consider skipping the first type and moving on the second.

In addition, if you’re an experienced programmer and just want to learn a new programming language, tutorials that fall under the second category might be a waste of time for you since you already know how to program and only need to acquire info about the first.

Most people need a mixture between the two, and indeed most resources do have aspects of both.

However, whenever I explicitly state that a resource tends to “focus on syntax”, I mean that it generally seems to lean towards the first category. When I say that a resource “focuses on practical application” or is “heavy in theory” or “is rigorous”, I mean that it leans towards the second category.

And finally, there’s a sort of third “pseudo-category” – resources that teach how to write “idiomatic code”. Every language has a slightly different philosophy and approach to problem-solving, and their own quirks and unique traits, and it does take some time to learn how to most effectively take advantage of these traits and “work with” the language.

Resources that teach writing idiomatic code are an extension of category one, except geared at programmers who already have some experience with the language and already know how to program. They’re generally meant for more experienced programmers, and are good books to read if you want to elevate your skill in a language from the beginner level to an intermediate level.

In general, anything produced by universities and most books tend to lean towards the second category. Anything by Codecademy and Khan Academy, and any interactive tutorials tend to lean towards the first. Everything else will vary.


This page is still a work-in-progress! Some sections may currently be incomplete, and some links may not yet be fully vetted.

Any contributions are welcome! To suggest a change, either make a pull request or submit an issue using the issue tracker to the right.

General resources

You can find a huge and utterly massive compendium of list of free programming books and resources on github. (It used to be hosted on StackOverflow, but was moved over to Github on October 2013).

You can also find a meta “list of programming resources” aggregator here: http://resrc.io/

Online courses

Online courses are an increasingly popular way for universities and professionals to teach programming and computer science in a structured format. As a result, new online courses will pop up all the time, so it’s worth checking these resources periodically to see what’s new.

  • Codecademy - offers free online courses in several different languages. However, Codecademy does have a tendency to teach only basic syntax, so you may need work through more tutorials after finishing Codecademy. Focuses mainly on web development, Ruby, and Python.
  • Coursera - offers free online courses in many different fields from several different well-known universities. New courses are added every quarter, and content from old courses is typically archived. Because many courses appear to be new/may be a one-time thing, this page will not link to courses on Coursera unless it appears to be stable.
  • Udacity - offers free computer science courses taught by industry experts. Udacity offers two kinds of courses – regular courses and nanodegrees. Regular courses are free. Regular courses with one-on-one tutoring/code review requires a monthly fee. Nanodegrees are typically for people with some prior coding experience, and cost more money.
  • edX - a joint effort between MIT, Harvard, and Berkeley to provide free online versions of some of their courses.
  • OpenCulture - similar to all of the above. Video lectures are typically available on iTunes or Youtube. Typically does not require you to complete assignments, unlike many other online courses.
  • MIT OpenCourseWare - static course materials taught at MIT. Unless otherwise noted, most content from this website tends to be very rigorous and fast-paced.
  • Khan Academy - contains a few courses on programming and computer science; does contain many more courses on all kinds of topics (especially math).
  • Stanford Engineering Everywhere - static course materials taught at Stanford.

The following websites also contain a wide variety of tutorials for many different topics, but require payment and registration before you can access their courses.

  • Team Treehouse - focuses on web and iOS development.
  • Lynda - also includes courses on design, animation, video, business, and more.
  • PluralSight - similar to Lynda, but with a focus on developer and IT courses.

In general, edX, OpenCulture, MIT OpenCourseware, and Stanford Engineering Everywhere tend to contain more rigorous, thorough, and demanding courses, whereas Codecademy and Khan Academy tend to focus on giving a more gentle introduction to programming. Coursera and Udacity tend to vary between these two extremes.

Programming Languages


Note: C can be a finicky and difficult-to-teach language. Although the online courses and books are a good starting point and can take you a long way, the general consensus is that the best way to learn is through reading an actual book.


Note: Similar to C, C++ can be a finicky and difficult-to-teach language. Although the online courses and books are a good starting point and can take you a long way, the general consensus is that the best way to learn is through reading an actual book.



  • Online courses:
  • Interactive tutorials:
    • Try Haskell
      An interactive guide that teaches basic Haskell.
  • Video tutorials: N/A
  • Books and tutorials (online):
    • Getting started with Haskell
      A comprehensive meta-guide that suggests the recommended order for following Haskell tutorials from beginning to advanced.
    • Learn You a Haskell for Great Good
      A beginner’s introduction to Haskell. Tends to focus on syntax.
    • Haskell
      One of Wikibook’s featured books. Covers basic to advanced Haskell. Very comprehensive.
    • Real World Haskell:
      Covers how to use Haskell for practical applications. This is a good second book to read, after completing one of the above tutorials.
    • More free books
  • Books (paper): N/A
  • Exercises:
    • H-99
      A collection of 99 problems designed to increase your proficiency in Haskell.

HTML, CSS, and JavaScript

Note: HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are the three core technologies that runs on every web browser and makes up every webpage.

HTML is a language used to describe the structure and content of a webpage. CSS is used to describe the style and appearance. JavaScript is used to add behavior and interactivity.

The recommended learning order is typically to start with HTML and CSS, then move on to learning JavaScript once you feel you’ve acquired a basic understanding of the previous two.

Also note that HTML and CSS are examples of “markup languages”, not “programming languages” and so will feel fairly different from JavaScript. If your goal is to learn just programming, you might want to jump straight ahead to JavaScript (or pick a different programming language!). However, since the main way to actually use JavaScript is through the web browser, you do need to learn HTML and CSS at one point or another.

  • Online courses:
  • Interactive tutorials:
    • CSS3, please!
      An interactive website that lets you dynamically change CSS rules to style an element on-screen. Not for beginners, but is a good way to discover advanced applications of CSS.
  • Video tutorials: N/A
  • Books and tutorials (online):
  • Books (paper):
    • JavaScript: The Good Parts
      A short book that covers the core aspects of JavaScript as well as info on writing idiomatic and clean JavaScript.
  • Exercises:
    • CSS Diner
      A series of exercises on using CSS selectors effectively.

Lisp (Scheme, Common Lisp, Clojure, etc)

  • Online courses: N/A
  • Interactive tutorials:
  • Video tutorials: N/A
  • Books and tutorials (online):
    • The Nature of Lisp
      Not really a tutorial on Lisp, but is instead an article on why so many people advocate Lisp and claim it will fundamentally change how you view code. Very good at explaining the philosophy of Lisp.
    • Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs
      SICP is the canonical introduction to Lisp, and used to be part of MIT’s introduction to CS course (before they switched to Python).
      • SICP in Clojure
        An amended version of SICP which uses Clojure instead of Scheme.
    • How to Design Programs
      A competing book and philosophy of teaching to SICP. SICP tends to focus more on CS theory whereas HTDP tends to focus more on writing how to go about writing programs/analyzing problems.
    • Build Your Own Lisp
      Walks you through how to write a Lisp interpreter in C, teaching both languages simultaneously.
    • Practical Common Lisp
      An introductory book on Common Lisp. Covers practical and real-world applications of Common Lisp.
    • Where to learn how to practically use Common Lisp
      An aggregation of books and resources on effectively using Common Lisp for programmers coming from an imperative world.
    • Learn Clojure
      A website collecting many links related to learning Lisp.
    • More free books:
  • Books (paper):
    • Land of Lisp
      A book that teaches Lisp (specifically Common Lisp) via making games. For beginners.
  • Exercises:
    • L-99
      A series of 99 problems designed to increase your proficiency in Lisp.
    • 4Clojure
      A series of exercises geared around learning Clojure.



  • Online courses: N/A
  • Interactive tutorials: N/A
  • Video tutorials: N/A
  • Books and tutorials (online):
    • Beginning Perl
      A comprehensive and thorough introduction to Perl.
    • Modern Perl
      A guide on writing clean and idiomatic Perl code. Very good for teaching the philosophy and fundamentals of Perl. Comprehensive and thorough.
    • Impatient Perl
      An accelerated guide for impatient people or people with prior programming experience.
    • Learn Perl in about 2 hours 30 minutes
      Another accelerated guide for the impatient. Geared towards people who have prior experience in another programming language.
    • More free books
    • Perl.org also hosts a list of recommended books, many of which are available online for free.
  • Books (paper):
    • Learning Perl
      An introductory text on Perl. Teaches on focusing syntax/the details of Perl, and not so much on how to program. Pragmatic and practical.
  • Exercises:
    • Perl Quiz of the Week
      A mailing list which sends out a new quiz/prompt once a week. Archives of past prompts are also available.


Note: while PHP can be very convenient, quick, and easy to use, it’s also a language viewed negatively by many programmers. (See PHP: a fractal of bad design). If you do decide to learn PHP and adopt it as your language of choice, just be aware of the fact that people will probably make fun of you at one point or another.

Also, it’s important to first learn [HTML and CSS][#html-css-and-javascript] before attempting to learn PHP. PHP is a language which attempts to “extend” and work with HTML, so may not fully make sense if you try and learn it before picking up basic web development.

  • Online courses:
    • Codecademy’s PHP track
    • Team Treehouse’s PHP course - allows a free 14-day trial, but later requires payment.
  • Interactive resources:
    • Learn PHP
      An interactive guide that teaches basic PHP.
  • Exercises:
  • Video tutorials: N/A
  • Books and tutorials (online):
    • PHP Manual
      The official tutorial on PHP. Tends to focus on language features and syntax.
    • TutorialPoint’s PHP Tutorial
      An introduction to PHP. Tends to focus on syntax. May make a good reference.
    • PHP The Right Way
      A comprehensive guide that covers modern best practices in PHP and attempts to address common flaws, misconceptions, and errors that many beginners (and many tutorials) seem to possess. Assumes some prior knowledge of PHP.
  • Books (paper):


Note: there are currently two versions of Python that are commonly taught and used – Python 2, and Python 3. Python 3 is the most recent version, but for a variety of reasons Python 2 still is fairly popular among many developers.

If you’re not sure which version to pick, my recommendation would be to pick the resource which looks like the best fit for you, and just use whatever version they’re recommending. Luckily, the differences between the two are very minor (at least from the perspective of the beginner), so there’s really no difference if you learn using Python 2 vs Python 3.


  • Online courses:
    • Codecademy’s Ruby track
      For beginners. Tends to focus on syntax.
    • Team Treehouse’s Ruby course
      Allows a free 14-day trial, but later requires payment.
  • Interactive tutorials:
    • RubyMonk
      A collection of interactive tutorials to help you learn basic and advanced Ruby.
    • TryRuby
      An interactive online guide that teaches you basic Ruby step-by-step.
    • Learn Ruby
      A downloadable set of interactive tutorials.
  • Video tutorials: N/A
  • Books and tutorials (online):
  • Books (paper):
    • The Well-Grounded Rubyist
      A comprehensive and thorough introduction to Ruby. For beginners.
    • Eloquent Ruby
      A guide on how to write Ruby idiomatically and cleanly. This book assumes that you already know Ruby or some other programming language.
  • Exercises:
    • Ruby Quiz
      A series of exercises on writing programs in Ruby. New exercises are no longer being written, but the existing exercises are still very good.


Scratch is a language wherein you create programs by dragging together and connecting “blocks”. Unlike other programming languages, Scratch is very visual, making it a very good first programming language, especially for children and younger teens.

Because not many people may be familiar with Scratch, this section will contain resources that are helpful both for learning Scratch, and teaching Scratch.

There are two

  • Online courses:
  • Interactive tutorials: N/A
  • Video tutorials:
    • Video tutorials from Scratch’s website
      A collection of video tutorials on Scratch for absolute beginners. Very comprehensive.
  • Books and tutorials (online):
  • Books (paper): N/A
  • Exercises: N/A

Other topics


Developing on specific platforms

Please see our FAQ for more information.


Mac and iOS

Windows and Windows phones

TODO: Expand? Don’t want to duplicate too much existing content.

Data structures and algorithms

Unless otherwise noted, all of the resources in this category assume prior programming experience.


Version control



TODO: Expand, add info on Subversion

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