Code

My journey to becoming a web developer from scratch without a CS degree, 2 years later (and what I learned from it)

Today I’m going to let you know about what went right, and what didn’t, so that anyone else embarking on this journey has better luck than I did. I know articles like this are plentiful, but I’m guessing that maybe I could provide a better insight on the process of learning since 2 years is quite a lot of more time to have found things I could have improved in my learning process.

Stop saying learning to code is easy

Learning to programming is NOT easy but it’s totally possible. You can do it.

Please do learn to code

Here’s why programming — unlike plumbing — is an important skill that everyone should learn: programming is how humans talk to machines.

Why Learning To Code Won't Save Your Job

Unfortunately, many have already learned the hard way that even the best coding chops have their limits. More and more, “learn to code” is looking like bad advice.

It’s Okay To NOT Learn How To Code

Realistically, I don’t want to learn how to code. I want the social cachet of being able to build stuff using computers, and I want the high salary a programmer can command in today’s labor market. But there are much easier ways to garner social cachet, ways that exploit my comparative advantage. Maybe I won’t make as much money as the wizards who design APIs and put together apps, but that’s just a function of supply and demand. In other words, it’s a reflection of my skills’ economic value, not a reflection of my value as a human being.

A Product Hunt Maker Success Story

A year has now passed since I learned to code.

My goal was never to transition into a developer, but to acquire a skill-set that would enable me to understand code and actualise my ideas. It has been as much a process of demystifying technology — “How does that work? Is it difficult to build something like this? What technology do I need to do that?” — as learning how to learn.

How A Non-Techie Learned To Code From Scratch

My background is in business and apart from being intellectually curious and interested in technology, I have no previous programming, database or web design experience. Like most non-techies, I have lots of ideas (of varying quality), but lacked the technical know-how to execute and develop a minimum viable product (MVP) without outsourcing the technology. In September 2014, I decided to teach myself Ruby on Rails and create a web application.