Resources for Beginning Programmers

If you want to build an app from the ground up, and you aren’t a computer programmer, where do you start?

I threw the gauntlet a month ago announcing my intentions to learn programming, and since then have collected suggestions from our community. I’d like to share those suggestions, because they are as diverse as the community itself. Here, have a look…

So, what did I end up doing?

  • Decided I wanted to go straight to the source and explore native iOS. The iPhone is the darn gizmo that got me here in the first place, so it’s the iPhone’s operating system that is most compelling to me – at the moment.
  • Headed to Barnes and Noble with the kids, and spent too much money on large books
  • Bought a Mac (not so bad timing, given my PC just died)
  • Downloaded Xcode
  • Read a few chapters of the Barnes & Noble programming books
  • Listened to a few lectures of the Stanford iTunes U course
  • Did a few Ray W. tutorials

Then, things got a little murky. Swimming around in my brain were terms like Objective C – Class – Object – Method – Instance Variable – Setter – Getter – Synthesize – .h – .m – Interface Builder – NSObject – Curly Braces vs. Square Bracket – and semicolon to end the statement. I thought a period ended a statement. (!)

How can I listen to Paul Hegarty’s lecture on model-view-controller when I’ve never written an original line of code?

I decided to adjust my keyword searching on Google, and instead of using “beginning iOS” I used phrases not exactly like but similar to “never wrote a single line of code in her life”. Bingo! I found this:

Most of the books I scanned, even the “Dummies” series, assumed a basic knowledge of computer programming even for iOS beginners. What I like about Kevin’s writing, is that he doesn’t make any assumptions – he just takes you there – step by step. For example, check out this paragraph in Chapter 2:

Most books start out teaching you Objective-C by building your own custom classes. Although that approach may work for seasoned software developers, for non-programmers, it’s like teaching someone  to drive by having them build a car—it can be a bit overwhelming.  So, I’ll teach you to drive first, and then I’ll show you how to build your own custom car. Let’s start out with a few easy classes to help you get the feel for Objective-C.

As of July 2012, there are only sample chapters available for this book. From what the website says, it’s supposed to be out on the iBookstore in August. In the meantime, I was able to make the iPhone simulator run tonight using his sample code – which was kind of a big win for a “non-programmer”.

Now, I can go back and listen to the Stanford videos on iTunes University, and when he talks about objects and methods and classes, I’ll recall Kevin’s section about passing a method to an object…and then, I’ll take a break and go launch App Friday.

Lorraine Akemann | In Transition | Moms With Apps

11 thoughts on “Resources for Beginning Programmers”

  1. Way to go Lorraine! Thats great. More than welcome to fire questions my way. You have already got my husband excited about coding too. Keep it up.

  2. Thanks so much for your inspiring post and extremely useful links. I just posted on this myself.
    Just completed the intro to programming course on and was wondering what to do next. Your post has given me direction.
    Cynthia Nugent

  3. Making the iPhone simulator run IS a big win no matter who you are. At least I too was excited when I got it to work. You’ll be amazed at how accomplished you will feel when you implement the smallest things. 🙂

    Also searching for “Hello World” is also a good way to get started. Typically the first program you write in any language is a “Hello World” program.

  4. What a great way of self learning/ training. I might dive into it to; even just to understand what my programmers are talking about.
    Thanks for sharing.


  5. Just checked out your post Cynthia! How cool that you met Bill, he is a great guy. –Lorraine

  6. I am curious for my 13 yr old son about programming. Will be following up on these recommendations! Thank you!

  7. Why thanks Lorraine!

    And I’m going to check out that book by Mcneish – I’ve had others ask me “how can I get into iOS development?” a few times…

  8. Great post for beginners!  
    Do you make small simple samples and launch it? IAs for me, this is one of the coolest thing – see this code strings in action! a lot of motivation to make more! )

  9. I highly recommend the Ray Wenderlich Tutorials. They’re a great way to learn and code simple games explained in a simple and logical way.

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