A Change is as Good as a Rest

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Every now and again we all need to take a break; to freshen our minds, and refocus our thoughts. it can get really tiring getting bogged down in bug hunting, specification documenting, working on the same project day in and day out or any other long term activity. So when I feel like I’m not getting anywhere I’ll stop what I'm doing and jump over to Programr.com and have a go at a 'code challenge' to exercise my brain on something completely different, it gives me a mental break whilst still keeping my brain active.

Programr.com is a relatively new, free website that is targeted at programmers with the aim of allowing students or professionals to practice programming online. You can make & run command-line programs, web applications, database applications as well as rich media apps right in the browser. Supported languages include C#, Java, SQL, Javascript, C++ and Ajax, amongst others. So not only can you jump across and hit up some code challenges, you can change the language that you are using to really take a mental break. The challenges are only available in Java C++ and C# at the moment.

The website seems to be supported by their offerings of programming courses for a very reasonable $30. I have not partaken of any of the courses, so cannot comment on their quality, but would think that they will be great considering the communications I have had with some of the guys. The support on the website is great, the responses I have received when reporting bugs or asking questions have been swift, friendly and informative, and obviously written by knowledgeable people, not just some monkeys drafted in to respond to emails.

There is much more to the site than the code challenges, you can create projects in your own workspace and edit them right there in the browser. The projects can be made public as well to allow others to see your work, and hopefully to learn from it. This is actively encouraged and points are awarded for making your projects public. The points push you up the leader board and are also redeemable against programming courses. so the more you program and the more you release to the public, the more you can cash in your points and continue learning.

Monthly contests with prizes ranging from course vouchers to Amazon vouchers are open to all, from beginner level up to professional. The contests have themes such as a game, or most recently, any educational application, be it educational in terms of programming, or educational in terms of teaching you something else. The competitions are monthly.

A really cool feature of the site is that any project can be copied to your own project folder, and altered to meet your needs or interests. See a neat project that has a couple of features you're interested in, but misses one you would like? No problem, just copy the project to your own workspace and you can edit it to your heart's content. This allows you to view the code that someone else has written, and often leads you to change your thinking slightly, as they will have approached their project differently to how you have.

All this leads to a socially-orientated, learning-driven environment, which is great to be part of.

I suggest you go and check it out, it really is a very useful resource. i like to use it to write quick programs or complete the code challenges when I'm away from my dev machine, just to keep my brain going. you can check the site out Programr.com, or check out my Programr profile.