Resources for Beginning Programmers

by Moms With Apps on July 22, 2012

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 comments… read them below or add one }

Survi Gopal July 22, 2012 at 10:43 pm

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.

Cynthia Nugent July 22, 2012 at 10:51 pm

Thanks so much for your inspiring post and extremely useful links. I just posted on this myself. http://bit.ly/H7mAQc
Just completed the intro to programming course on Lynda.com and was wondering what to do next. Your post has given me direction.
Cynthia Nugent

Susan July 22, 2012 at 10:51 pm

Congrats on the big leap!

Laura Bangerter July 22, 2012 at 11:40 pm

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.

Yam Regev July 23, 2012 at 4:55 am

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.

Yam

Moms With Apps July 23, 2012 at 9:46 am

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

Stephanie July 23, 2012 at 10:56 am

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

Bill July 23, 2012 at 3:12 pm

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…

Svetlana July 24, 2012 at 3:44 am

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! )

Roger August 9, 2012 at 10:50 am

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.

David Fox August 9, 2012 at 12:01 pm

Awesome, Lorraine! For those in the SF Bay Area, Alex Souza of Kwiksher will be demoing Kwik 2.0 on August 20th at a Corona SDK Meetup in San Francisco. In addition, Ron Martinez will be demoing his new Aerbook Maker Cloud Publishing system for ebook and book app creation, also for the non-techy. http://aerbook.com

http://www.meetup.com/Corona-SDK-Group/events/75877802/

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