Diving into Codeacademy's API Lessons

Codeacademy has just launched its program for APIs for open release. The well known Codecademy is a team of hackers working hard to build a better way for anyone to teach, and learn, how to code.  Their investors have been Union Square Ventures, Index Ventures, Kleiner Perkins, O'Reilly, SV Angel, Thrive Capital, CrunchFund, Collaborative Fund, Founder Collective, Yuri Milner, Vivi Nevo, Richard Branson, and several others. Codeacdemy's existing products have been in teaching:

→ JavaScript
→ Python
→ Ruby

The Introduction to APIs course is quite basic though-even though it boasts of marquee names like Hilary Mason of Bit.ly as content creators- The chapters are as follows-

What they have done is used gamification and online tools for making learning both fun and installation-hassle free. It makes learning to code just as fun as playing a Zynga game. Maybe even more. You can use it for your internal training, and if you are an experienced developer, you can even contribute content and sign up as in instructor to Codeacademy.

The ease of navigation does away with any of the installation processes of software like Python etc. This particularly helps remove a bottleneck for newbie programmers. It can also be considered as a cloud way of doing technical education instead of the PC (install,troubleshoot, learn, troubleshoot) era.

Overall, I am hoping Codeacademy introduces more platforms and languages (especially R!) to its Introduction to APIs , and follows it up with an advanced API course. I also hope experienced developers  as well as API owners can contribute tutorials to craft request to their well known APIs (Google APIs?) , and their time to create feedback and content for global online education. As some one wisely said " Programming is the most fun you can have with your clothes on (although clothes are not mandatory)" .

I did the API lessons in Python, Java Script and Ruby.  Some of the content is duplicated across the three courses- and it can be a bit confusing for the noice learner(that's me!) . Maybe a tabular form  for basic syntax revision can help especially for someone who wants to use Python for an API that is not covered by Python requests but by Ruby in the course. I noted that even when I passed the course it takes me some time to recollect if I revisit the course material again. The following APIs are also covered as of now.

Using Javascript:

1) Youtube API

2) Soundcloud API

3) Parse API

Using Ruby:

1) Twilio

2) SendGrid

There is also an issue with daily limits being exceeded in requests (like the SendGrid API). The API courses also differ in difficulty levels depending on course creator- some courses are just copy and paste from the hint- while others can bog you down. In addition sometimes the Codeacademy console just hangs- a quick turnaround was to refresh the page ( I was on Firefox 18.0 - Win7 but with some plugins.) Ideally I would like to do any of the APIs in any of the three languages being supported right now.

In addition Codeacademy has promised a coming soon course for Stripe API. It also has an interesting offer for API developers trying to make API learning easier by offering them a chance to create a new course here!. This is an interesting development. Will Coursera have an API course ? Lets hope so , too.  I hope Codeacdemy creates it's own API for creating or accessing courses like the Khan Academy , the pioneer in online education does here.

Add some REST to programming, and learning APIs is quite easy even for people who have stayed away from the API revolution!

Be sure to read the next Application Development article: Explaining How Your API Uses OAuth


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