Learn to Code and Make the Software You Want

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Learn to Code and Make the Software You Want

I attended this session because I want to be more self sufficient as a Marketing Technologist and not rely on developers as much as I am. It turned out to be my favorite session. Background: Neither of them could code a few years ago. They walked the audience through the steps they went through to learn to code. They learned how to create the ideas in their mind and bring them into the world.

Social Tags:

  • @innonate
  • @vacanti
  • #sxhope


You have to have a specific need, not “I need to code.

[important]One and only one pre-requisite: really, really need something specific to be built.[/important]

Outsourcing your code dev is difficult. They don’t know what’s in your head. No matter how long your documented tech spec requirements are they can’t make realtime decisions about what feels right they way you can. A benefit of being able to create your own code allows you to test out the ideas before involving partners, investors or anyone else.

The Big Secret:

[important]”It’s not that hard”[/important]

Both continually had the realization that coding is not as hard as it seems. The ecosystem has grown up and it’s easier for non-coders to code. In the last 5 years it’s gotten much easier.

What Does it Take?

[important]”The Sweat Lodge”[/important]

Take a chunk of time and do nothing but learn to code. Sweat it out. At the end of Day 1 and 2 – Westheimer still had no clue on what he was doing. After 5 days he finally had a clue of how to achieve accomplish his coding goal. You need a dedicated block of time to get over the early hump. Although coding easier, there are somethings that are really, really hard and you need dedicated time to work through it.


Nate Westheimer

Nate Westheimer

Vinicius Vacanti

Vinicius Vacanti


Coding Components: High-Level Explanation in 3 steps

User Request: “http://yourdomain.com/actions?details=number_two”

Server: “Yo app! I got this request. Check it…”

Your App: “Sweet! Going to do some magic. Here’s the result.”

Things Not To Worry About

Don’t worry about much – get it up and running.

  • Security
  • Scaling Issues
  • Writing Beautiful Code
  • Maintainability of Code

When you’ll need these things, you’ll either have a team to do it or you’ll have moved on.

Learning Python/Django

Vicante bought the O’Reilly book, read 4 chapters and that was enough to understand the basics. Django sits on top of Python. Start by learning the basics of Python. Examples of Django include Instagram and Hunch Resources:

Learning Ruby on Rails

Resources Westheimer used:

So which one should you learn? –> Python or Ruby?

Doesn’t matter which, but you do have to pick. Decision criteria: Do you know someone you can call for help? Can you call them in a tough moment?

Learning HTML/CSS

Resources: (affiliate links)

Help Yourself

[important]24 hour rule. Figure it out. Don’t ask for help for 24 hours[/important]

It’s okay to write ugly code that works.  You learn by trying. There is value in that journey, it’s better than a leg up by phoning a friend.

Still Need Help? Just Ask

If after a day you haven’t solved the problem, go to an online forum. Responses often happen the same day. Resources:


Open-Source Projects

At the moment there are well over 4,000 site examples with the code. It’s a great way to see how others are solving a similar problem. Check out djangosites.com.

Sites They Built:

Find Authors At:

Photo Credit [sxsw]

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