Boosting Retention When Learning to Code with Github and VSCode Markdown

Boosting Retention When Learning to Code with Github and VSCode Markdown

Let me tell you about a little VScode markdown method of notetaking that really helped me out. Picture this – you’re studying a complex programming language like JavaScript, and as you dive deeper into the subject matter, you realize that taking physical notes is no longer cutting it. That’s exactly what happened to me when I was studying “Secrets of the JavaScript Ninja.” I had always been a fan of physical note-taking, but I found myself struggling to retain and recall information. That’s when I stumbled upon an unconventional method that changed everything.

A few months ago, I was researching note-taking techniques and stumbled upon an intriguing Reddit comment. The idea was to upload your notes onto Github using Markdown, which would not only make your notes more accessible, but would also improve your ability to retain and recall information. I was curious, so I decided to give it a shot.

Using VSCode to Type Markdown

One of the key aspects of this note-taking method is the use of Visual Studio Code, also known as VSCode, to type notes in Markdown. For those unfamiliar, VSCode is a free, open-source IDE that has become increasingly popular among developers. Similarly, Markdown is a lightweight markup language that is easy to learn and widely used in the developer community.

Using VS Code to type notes in Markdown offers several benefits. First and foremost, it allows for efficient note-taking and organization. With Markdown, you can quickly format your notes using simple syntax such as hashtags for headings, asterisks for bullet points, and underscores for italicized or bolded text. This makes it easy to structure your notes and quickly identify key information.

Additionally, learning how to use VS Code and Markdown can be beneficial skills for developers to have. VS Code is an incredibly versatile text editor that can be used for a variety of programming languages, making it a valuable tool for any developer. Markdown, on the other hand, is widely used in the developer community for things like README files, documentation, and issue tracking. Knowing how to use Markdown can make it easier to collaborate with others on coding projects and contribute to open-source software.

How to Take Notes in VSCode Markdown?

If you’re interested in using VS Code and Markdown for note-taking, it’s relatively easy to get started. First, download and install VS Code on your computer. Then, create a new file in VS Code and save it with a .md file extension to indicate that it’s a Markdown file. From there, you can begin typing your notes using Markdown syntax. 

Markdown is super easy and convenient. Create a H2 header with two hashtags ## or create an H3 header with three hashtags. Use asterisks * to create a bulleted list, and best of all, three backticks “` starts a code block. You can see how it’s perfect for taking notes when learning to code.

Here’s an example of a Javascript study sesh, using all the appropriate headers and syntax:

What about using VSCode markdown preview?

As you type, you can preview what the formatted text will look like by using the built-in Markdown preview feature in VSCode. This is handy if you want to see what your polished file will look like when viewed in a public repo.

While in VSCode, editing your markdown file, just hit “Command + Shift + V” on Mac/Linux or “Control + Shift + V” on Windows. This will open a new tab in your IDE, showing you a preview.

Here’s what your preview will look like using the previous example’s markdown:

How to put your notes on GitHub?

Once you have your thoughts gathered for the day, you can catalog them in a GitHub repository. As a developer, learning Git is super important, so this will help you get in the habit of using Git for version control in every facet of your activities. 

Ideally, you should set up Git first, so that you can simply run a “git push” command when you’re done taking notes for the day. Create a new repository on GitHub. Clone it to your local machine using SSH. From there, you can create your file and begin working.

When you want to upload the file to GitHub, just make sure that your repo will be set to public by default. If you want to change it to private, you’ll be able to keep your notes to yourself. But, having your work on display for the world to see is part of the fun, and will force you to keep an eye on quality. Even though you’re just taking notes, this is a good first step toward writing clean and readable code as a developer.

Final Thoughts

Let me know how this VSCode markdown method of taking notes works for your learning style. Typing up your thoughts using markdown in VSCode, then uploading to GitHub–-even if you don’t know how to code yet—is a great first step to take as a developer and build good habits.

What is your favorite method of taking notes when learning to code? Let me know your thoughts in the comments, and let me know if you have any alternatives that work even better for you!

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