Us software developers need to learn continually. New technologies arrive, new languages, new ways of doing things. Or, more likely, the next project requires that you use new libraries and/or systems.

Tutorials are one of the best ways to learn how to do new things. However, have you ever gone through a tutorial and still been puzzled? Yep, been there. Sometimes it's a poorly written or out of date tutorial. Other times, the problem can be found by standing in front of a mirror. Here's my very simple 3-step process to get the most out of software tutorials:

1. Do The Work

Yes, this is so simple. It's "commonsense." But, are you doing it? I can remember reading through tutorials and skipping doing the actual work, thinking it's simple and "I get it; I know how it works." Then, I'd try writing my own code, and realize that I didn't understand after all.

So, do the work. Write and test the code.

2. Type out the Code by Hand

It's so tempting to copy and paste the code to save time, but don't! Typing it manually forces you to read it all carefully. Plus, the action of typing helps you learn. If you're more of an audial learner, then you could try reading the code aloud as you type too.

3. Tinker With the Code

Got the code working? Great! Now try changing it. See what happens when you adjust parameters. Or, decide what you'd like the tutorial code to do, and try to make it do that. Playing with the code will help give you an intuitive idea of how it all works.

This is why I try to always have an "Exercises" section at the end of each of my tutorials (e.g., this one).

Got Stuck in a Tutorial?

Download the full code if it's available, and compare what you did with what you should have done. And if all else fails, you can always reach out to others for help.