I would like to learn Coda faster

I’ve been trying to learn Coda for a year now and I think it’s a complete product for a wide variety of applications. I am very motivated to learn it, but very often I encounter problems that prevent me from getting a solution. The process of learning formulas is very difficult for me. I know some applications because I learn basic syntax by heart but whenever I try to do something new I have huge problems. This is very demotivating.
I would love to have someone like a teacher who can explain to me step by step where I am making mistakes and why…
I think Coda is a great product, but it also requires a lot of motivation and time to be able to use it for serious tasks. I just hope that I will persevere in my learning…

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Have you take a look at Coda 101 ? (available in your docs :wink: )

Yes, I’ve watched it many times - doing exercises as well. What is your experience with learning formulas? How did you manage to learn them? Have you had experience with coding before?

Those are good questions :yum: :

I’m a profound autodidact (for everything).
I learn enough CSS (HTML) years ago when creating my very first blog to fully customize that blog, I learned a little bit of javascript at that time too :wink: .
I never really created anything with Google sheets or Excel but I learned quite a few things about databases when I was using a direct concurrent of Coda just a few years from now.
And when I was younger, we also had some lessons at school about Miscrosoft Access (at that time) :slight_smile: .

So, yes, with all this, I had a little bit of “advance” when I discovered Coda :wink: .

I’ve got no miracle solution though. I’m very far away from being an expert to create databases as I do a lot of things by “instinct” following sometimes unnatural logic as I tend to think “in reverse” when creating a doc or writing a formula, going from the desired result I have in mind, thinking about what I need to get there (and/or what do I already have) and after that how to get there.

When I began to use Coda, unsure about my formulas, I tested them extensively and often just wrote them bit by bit, until I’ve got the desire results :slight_smile: .

I still do this when I’ve a doubt, but less often :wink: .

If I run into a problem, even if it take me away from my actual “goal”, I search here, until I understand why it wasn’t working.

I also create outlines (on Dynalist for example) to build schemas/brainstorms of my “ideas” for a doc to build before effectively create one :wink: .

After that, I must say that I actually have the time needed to learn and explore Coda (I can spend more than 8 hours a day in between Coda and the Community).

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Hey Przemek!

Formulas in Coda are very much like traditional code (even though Coda is advertised as no code). All the best coding practices still apply, and knowledge of algorithms and familiarity with generic C-like programming language syntax all help very much. Do you perchance have any programming knowledge?

I personally discovered Coda when I had already been a seasoned full-stack software developer. So it was much easier for me to get started and get creative with formulas. The pinnacle, perhaps, is the snake game.

Yet still, at first I was also confused. I had a project in mind that I wanted to implement on Coda, and I just started looking through the docs and template gallery to see how different things were done, and also looked into the community forums to discover some interesting tricks. This was my project, by the way:

I am going to start a blog on Coda: codatricks.com. Formulas will definitely be one of the main focuses there. I just need to overcome my writer’s block now and finish the article about best Coda practices (the most important one, the reason I’m starting the blog in the first place).

In case you’re interested in something like this — I also do Coda consulting. Usually this means I’d just build docs for clients, explaining the intricacies if asked. But I used to do teaching and mentoring before too, so we could try that. PM me if you’re interested.

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This is a pretty neat idea :grin: :bulb: !

I should have mentioned this as well :blush: .

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Dear @Przemek_Sawicki,

When I started a year and a half ago I had the same thought. I received much support from the community and Coda team. Maybe also lucky to grow with the development of Coda.

I suggest also to study the templates and shared content in the community, by just selecting the use case the closest to what you intend to build.

From personal experience, I would say, it’s worth to go through the learning curve as it will bring much more positive then negative for a person’s personal development.

:bulb:
Don’t give up and feel free to question what is bothering you. I always recommend to share a dummy copy, where you try to explain the expected outcome.

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@Przemek_Sawicki - Thanks for your kind words about Coda.

We completely empathize with you and agree that certain aspect of Coda is hard to follow/learn.

We constantly try to make product easier to use - so my request to you while you are learning coda - please share your feedback with us - what is hard, what you find difficult etc. or even better, how would you expect it to work instead.

when customers ask us questions (either via community post, via in-product support chat or send us an email at support@coda.io) - it gives us a great signal into the use cases and helps us streamline those scenarios. so asking questions is equally helpful.

Thank you fellow community members who have shared some great tips.

Krunal.

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This.

Try to help someone else in the Community. It’s really hard, and you’ll feel you don’t know enough to contribute.

But even if you’re not confident to actually give an accurate answer, you’ll learn a lot just by putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, thinking “How would I solve this problem?”, building example docs to test those ideas.

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The Coda community is great! I have never met such a positive environment and people in any other place on the Internet. It’s impossible not to teach Coda syntax with such positive support around you. Thanks again! Below is a condensed list of your tips and tricks:

  • Try to think “in reverse” going from the desired result, thinking about what is need to get there and after that to how to get there
  • Build schemas of an idea before effectively create a doc
  • Study templates and shared content in the Community
  • Question what is bothering you
  • Try to explain the expected outcome
  • Help others in the Community
  • Practice thinking “How would I solve this problem?” when studing shared content in the Community
  • Share your feedback with Codans - what is hard, what is difficult, how would you expect it to work instead
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I have to second @Przemek_Sawicki. I am very interested in deploying Coda for my team but the formula language is still rough for me. I actually started a budget template for my firm about a year ago, and kept asking support for help.

I ended up giving up on it, but decided to come back to it after the launch of 2.0.

I noticed there were some great improvements to helping users understand filters and columns, but it’s the formulas that are still not clicking for me.

One thing that could be helpful, is if Coda could start to guess a few possible answers might be before the user even enters a formula.

I know that sounds a little crazy, but just some simple things like, oh, are you looking to reference this cell from another table? Cool, here’s how to do that.

With some basic guesses showing as examples, some of us are struggling with formulas may start to see how to perform lookups, and references and the slightly more advanced stuff.

I would definitely second this. A primer / tutorial that goes a couple levels deeper than Coda 101 or any of the existing content would be very helpful.

Specifically, the problem we run into is handling all the data types with the formulas. More often than not, we end up with unpredictable results. A little more clarity / depth on the syntax and best practices for coding would be great.

Hey everyone!

I didn’t read the above comments, but I wanted to say that I think there is not much lacking in Coda education imo. At first it can be daunting, so definitely start out with their own short course (Coda 101, formulas,…)

Then there’s a plethora of resources available in the form of Templates. Which I personally think is AWESOME, having an abundance of actual real world examples of how to use Coda.

I’m personally making relatively complex tools with Coda now, after just a month of working in it. The first week I dived deep into the tutorials and then copied almost every template and worked in it, looked at the formulas, the automations,… I also read all of the formulas, just to get a grasp on what they actually offer. I must be honest and say that I was already a heavy Google Docs and Sheets user and now and then even used tools such as iMacros for automation.

On a side note — I was thinking of starting an educational series on YouTube as I’ve noticed that there’s a big gap in knowledge compared to for example Sheets and Excel. Even though it’s easier to use, it’s nowhere near plain easy.

The main thing that’s keeping me from actually doing the channel are:

  • Time
  • Form (which way of implementing would help people the most)
  • Projects - which kind of projects would work best?

Maybe recreating some templates or showcasing my own tools? Even though they’re pretty specific to my niche.

Just putting this out there to see if anyone wants to give some feedback :wink:

Good luck! You’ll figure it out, it’s really not that hard once you get the hang of it. Practice makes perfect.

Cheers,
Sonny

FWIW it did get easier with the latest improvements. You can now create interactive filters and setting up lookups from other tables without writing a single formula.

I am honestly curious why some people find formula language complicated. I am myself coming from software engineering background though, so it’s all natural for me. Could you please tell more about what exactly you’re struggling with? I’m planning on starting a blog about Coda, and one of the things I’d like to do there is explain formulas to those who have troubles grasping them.