Is there any point in learning how to code when I can just use the source code from another app?

The simple answer is, yes, it is very worthwhile to learn how to code. And for many reasons. But my reasons might surprise you.

We live in a more open world than ever before where information is freely available and even more important, it’s easy to find. When I was in school, one of my teachers told me that while it was good to know facts, it was even more important to know how to find answers. Because if you know how to find answers, then you’ll be able to do things you’ve never done before. There will always be some problem that goes beyond our existing knowledge. And that’s why the ability to find answers is ultimately the more important skill.

Things are much easier but no different today. With just a few carefully chosen keywords, it’s possible to find relevant information that comes from anywhere in the world. And you can do all this with just a smart phone from almost anywhere.

It’s even possible now days to get custom answers done for you. You don’t even need bother at all with finding an answer. All you have to do is ask. You can ask for other people to do your homework for you and to solve your work assignments for you, and you’ll likely get an answer. Is this right? Is this fair? Is this cheating? Or is it stealing? Or does it break copyright laws? Instead of getting bogged down in all these questions, I think there’s an even more important reason to learn how to code for yourself.

Imagine for a moment we’re not talking about programming but writing. Just plain and simple fiction writing. You can walk into a library and have access to all kinds of stories. If you know what to look for, you’ll be able to find examples of similar stories that you want to write. It’s been said that if you want to write a story, don’t worry about coming up with a unique plot or story. They’ve all been written. Magic, spells, monsters. How many books actually invent a new type of creature? How many instead take existing ideas and creatures and combine them in slightly different ways?

So if everything’s already been written about and most new books just spin a slightly different tale, then do authors try to just copy paragraphs from other books? Do authors start by copying chapters and then modifying them so they’re not accused of plagiarism?

And what about self-plagiarism? Is it wrong to start with somebody else’s work but okay to start with your own previous work? And where is the line drawn? Is it necessary to actually highlight other work and copy and then paste it? What if you start with a clean page and type some other work from memory? Is that still plagiarism?

If I actually try to write a unique story, how much has been influenced by other stories I’ve read before? And if I write some code, is it really unique? Or has it been influenced by all the code I’ve seen online, read in books, reviewed from colleagues, or even written myself years or just months ago?

So instead of trying to convince you to learn how to program by appealing to your morals, or your sense of pride, or even your fear of infringing on somebody else’s copyright, I’ll say this. You need to know how to program because that’s the only way you’ll be able to put it all together.