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Review of Coding for Writers course by Peter Gruenbaum on Udemy

Nov 13, 2016 • api-doc, beginners

Peter Gruenbaum has a new course on Udemy called Coding for Writers. Overall, this course takes a unique angle in not only teaching you the basics of coding (in this case, mostly JavaScript and Java), but also teaching you how to document the code, such as focusing on parameters, responses, and data types. He even talks about style conventions in the documentation, including verb tenses, code formatting, and sentence structures.

Coding for Writers

You can take Peter’s Coding for Writers course here on Udemy with a coupon code IDRATHER for a discount. This makes it $29 instead of $45.

My Review

Peter gave me free access to check out the course and provide a review. Overall, this is the only tech course I’ve taken where the instructor not only teaches you code, but specifically calls out what you should document in the code and how you should do it. For example, here’s a slide where Peter explains what you should focus on in function documentation:

Coding for Writers

That unique angle of combining “how to code” with “how to document code” makes the course worthwhile. I do wish with the course focused more heavily on the documentation side of code, but that’s okay – all the info is highly worthwhile.

What kind of code does the course focus on? Mostly JavaScript, some Java, and general principles of programming. You can find dozens of courses on JavaScript, Java, and other programming languages already – but almost no course that covers how to document programming.

Peter also covers quite a bit of ground in this course. He starts out with the basics and makes his way to more advanced concepts. Don’t let the first couple of exercises, which are extremely simple, fool you. It gets more complex as the course progresses.

Peter adds a number of exercises throughout. I mostly just glanced through these exercises rather than actually doing them, but these exercises are where someone new to programming would get more hands-on grounding.

The course format is consistent but at times a little monotonous. Peter mostly reads bullet points on slides, and then provides an exercise related to the concept. The format works all right. The exercises and answers are both PDF files that you download from the course (I wish the exercises were online, since the mode switch from online to offline is a little disjointed, but it’s not a big deal). There are brief 3-question quizzes every few sections to keep you awake. Each section closes with a summary of the points covered.

Do I recommend the course? Yes. It’s relatively short and focused. (You can probably finish it in about 5-7 hours if you played it straight through and actually did all the exercises.) If you’re already familiar with JavaScript and Java, you may find yourself skipping ahead and looking forward to the sections focus more on documentation.

For the most part, any course you take on coding is helpful, and I like a lot of the focus Peter takes. If your goal is to learn JavaScript or Java, there are plenty of courses online to choose from, but I do like that Peter focuses mostly on the programming concepts that tech writers will likely need to know, and discusses how to document them.

If you’re currently documenting a JavaScript SDK, Peter’s course would definitely be something you should take, since much of the course focuses specifically on JavaScript.

Other courses from Peter

Here are some other courses from Peter that I’ve reviewed on my blog:

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About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer based in the California San Francisco Bay area. In this blog, I write about topics related to technical communication — Swagger, agile, trends, learning, plain language, quick reference guides, tech comm careers, academics, and more. I'm interested in simplifying complexity, API documentation, visual communication, information architecture and findability, and more. If you're a technical writer of any kind (progressional, transitioning, student), be sure to subscribe to email updates using the form above. You can learn more about me here. You can also contact me with questions.