by Cesare Rocchi

On Learning to Code as a Shortsighted Goal

by Cesare Rocchi

These days there is buzz around the idea that everybody should learn how to code. Far from feeling that as a threat for my career, lately I have come to realize that learning to code is just a small step. Once you are able to code, you are still missing out a lot of stuff. Ask yourself: what are you coding for? Sure, you can get a job in a company, push code to a repository and get payed. That way you are a ring in a chain and if you are happy with that, good for you. If you are coding just for fun, then I envy you. Finally, if you are coding because you are going to ship a product, then things get interesting. I have worked in big corporations and in the freelancing land, so I have experienced a wide spectrum of situations. I think I can say that coding is just a small part in shipping a product. And the rest? This is a rough list of the rest:

  • devise the idea
  • design it (UX and graphics)
  • pre-release marketing (buzz building, etc.)
  • choose a business model
  • develop the idea
  • market the product (twitter, facebook, blogs)
  • manage support

These are seven steps. Let’s hypotetically assume that each step has the same weight. It’s easy to see that coding is around 14% of a bigger process. That’s what I mean by learning to code is shortsighted. Chances are you spend a lot of time coding and then you have issues with all the rest: the app is not well designed, you have a weak business model, you are not able/ready to market, your support sucks. Sure, you can team up with others and build a company where each one is responsible for an activity. If so, be ready also to split revenues. Just keep in mind that there are people, like freelancers, who are able to manage all the activities above. Sometimes their wives/husbands are a bit angry at them, yet they succeed in shipping and paying bills.

Pimping people to learn how to code is like pimping children to learn just math at college and ignore the rest. Will they ever graduate that way? I don’t think so. Plus, would you like a world full of mathematicians? I don’t.

So learn to code, do it well, but don’t think that once you master coding you are done. You are just at the beginning.