Education · Continuing Education

What coding classes or courses are meant for business people?

Cyrus Radfar

April 24th, 2013

I'm interested in understanding what resources and courses exist and are helpful for business people to learn about coding, product development, etc.

Blake West Software Engineer at Hint Health

April 24th, 2013

David's point about coding being an art is spot on. Definitely takes thousands and thousands of hours to master.

However, I will disagree with the point that taking a software development course is fruitless. On the contrary, my experience taking just a few courses (Udacity, Coursera), reading a book on HTML/CSS, and actually doing some VERY minor real work (like creating our splash site www.lessonup.co) has taught me an immense amount about what it means to code and about the architecture of the web, computers, etc. It's given me a visceral appreciation for the mental discipline (and kinds of environments) that are needed to do good dev work, which lets me interact with and "get" the devs on my team better.

Perhaps most importantly, it's given me the vocabulary and knowledge of modern technologies to intelligently talk to developers, and to understand what kind of developers and technologies I need for my project. Which in turn, gives me more respect from the devs I might try to hire. 

So my thought is don't take a course because you think you'll be able to do it yourself after just 1 class. You won't (see Dave's point above). BUT it's extremely important for any "business" person in technology to at least know and actually do some coding so that you aren't completely blind. 

--> and to your actual question: Udacity's CS101 is a great head-first dive into coding for complete beginners. Then their Web Development course afterwards is an excellent followup for getting your hands dirty and understanding web architecture.

David Bergman CTO, Co-Founder of Stackray, Inc.

April 24th, 2013

Maybe it is just my being overly stupid, but it took me some solid 3,000 hours just to get a firm understanding of coding, and around 12,000 hours to master it.

What I would rather do is the meta study of the object: to understand what the development process means, rather than trying to understand coding per se.

There is a stance in the "business world" that coding is just taking some ideas - concocted by business folks - and simply linearize them into a format suitable for computers. The term "coding" does not help in ridding this misconception.

To put it another way: software development is a very challenging combination of art, science and engineering (if done right...) so trying to take a course in it is as fruitful as taking a nightly course at advanced neurosurgery without any a priori knowledge about anatomy or biology or thinking that learning to apply band aid could somehow yield a deep understanding in heart transplantation processes.

Rant done, so just take a "technical project management" course or read some such books.

Michael Brill Technology startup exec focused on AI-driven products

April 24th, 2013

Ha... I was just wrote an inelegant version of David's post. Look, there's nothing wrong with dabbling and learning a bit about programming... but if you really want to contribute in a meaningful way, you have to learn a ton about lots of different technologies - not something you'll pick up in a few days on CodeAcademy.  

What engineers need is good product managers... people who can understand a market opportunity, work with customers, and work with the development team on an MVP and roadmap.  It definitely does help to understand development in this process, but it's more about concepts rather than syntax.


Anonymous

April 24th, 2013

Well, Codecademy (who just announced that they are moving to NYC full time--woohoo!) is a pretty awesome resource. http://www.codecademy.com/#!/exercises/0

Anonymous

April 24th, 2013

I tried a few different sites (including codeacademy and phpacademy) and found Lynda.com to be the best. It's not interactive like codeacademy, but the depth and breadth of content is remarkable. They have courses  ranging from LAMP stack to amazon web services  to product development.

Matt Monday Partner at STRV

April 24th, 2013

http://teamtreehouse.com is solid.  If you have some money to spend, can't go wrong with https://generalassemb.ly

Peter Baltaxe Consultant, product leader, serial entrepreneur

April 24th, 2013

So as I understand Cyrus' question, he doesn't want to know how to code, but rather about the process of coding; and product development.  I would recommend a couple of things:  get a book on "agile" software development.  That will help you understand how to work with engineers as a product or program manager.  You will understand the tradeooffs of agile vs waterfall, and you'll know what a "sprint is" and a "scrum" and why some developers might get cranky if you don't list out your customer use cases (stories) in the right syntax.   If you really want to know more about the art and science of coding, read a book about software concepts or architectures, rather than trying to dive into a particular language. I have a masters degree computer system design and knew how to code 25 years ago when the languages in use were Fortran and APL, and then C++. But I haven't coded since I went to B-school 20 years ago.  To keep from being completely lost,  I have found it a useful exercise that whenever someone mentions a language or tool or programming concept that I don't know, I immediately look it up on Wikipedia so that I am not completely ignorant when a developer talks about "RESTful API's" or SPARQL, etc. ...
My 2 cents.

Ben Sykes Design Director + Experience Strategist - Since '95

April 24th, 2013

Check out http://www.learnstreet.com.  They are based in Palo Alto and have some serious backers.  I'm in discussions currently to improve the experience.

Vijay MD Founder Chefalytics, Co-owner Bite Catering Couture, Independent consultant (ex-McKinsey)

April 24th, 2013

Best place to start is probably the Steve Blank/ Eric Reis stuff: . 4 steps to the epiphany (product), . Lean Startup. If you want to code, opinions will vary on language. I'm learning Rails. Really enjoyed: . Michael Hartl's rails tutorial . Codeschool's Rails for Zombies . Railscasts

Blake West Software Engineer at Hint Health

April 24th, 2013

Yeah, I think we're on the same page with this one. With only a minor addition...

It's more than just understanding that it's hard. It's also about having some clue as to what the hell your project will even need. It's about understanding what questions you can even ask. It's an easy mistake for inexperienced business folks to assume all developers are the same. Or even that all "web developers" are the same. When this is clearly not even close to reality.

I'm a musician, so I'd liken it to trying to put together a band, and just putting up some ad on CL saying, "we need a singer". Great. A country singer? a soul singer? a rapper? female or male? Someone who can improvise, or someone with classical chops? 
It depends on what kind of band you're putting together. The wrong person could ruin it. And not even knowing what questions to ask or what parameters to put on your search makes you look clueless, which is not conducive to getting good people on your team.