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25/10/2016

Codewars

Why Codewars will make you a better coder


Sometimes, something comes along that doesn't change the way you work, but changes the way you think about working. For me, that thing is Codewars.

I find that while I'm working, I can spend large chunks of time writing HTML and CSS, with Javascript implementation coming later on. For example, in my current project, I've written nearly 1000 lines of CSS, compared to just fewer than 90 lines of Javascript. When I get round to the Javascript, it can take a little time to get back up and running, especially if I've had my head in a PHP file. To combat this, I wanted to do some programming challenges over coffee in the mornings, at the end of the working day, lunchtimes, dinnertimes, bedtimes, mornings, the middle of the night… you get the picture. Codewars is the solution I found and it's proving to be quite addictive.


Codewars is quite a simple premise really. Complete challenges (or 'Kata' as they call them) of varying difficulty created by other users and earn 'honour' amongst your peers. There are different categories and the challenges range from simple one or two liners to extremely complex challenges such as 'create a compiler'. That's as far as I will go in explaining how it works, but if you want to know more, you should definitely go check it out.

Completing challenges on Codewars has many benefits, but the two that have stood out to me most are that it keeps me fresh on Javascript during those long CSS stints and it teaches me so much more about the language by seeing how other people solve problems. For example, I spend an hour tearing my hair out over a problem, writing and rewriting my code until I finally pass it, then I get to see everyone else's solutions and feel extremely dumb when someone has solved it in one line. It's this humbling that teaches you so much. It breaks the way you think about solving a problem and encourages you to discover new language features and methods.


I've learnt so much already from the sites users and while I'm learning to control the urge to only complete challenges and subsequently neglect my work, I'm integrating Codewars more and more into my everyday work regime and I think you should to. Check out my profile here.