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What are some educational resources that will help me better communicate with software developers?

As a "non-technical" founder, I am trying to learn as much as I can about web development and coding so that I know exactly what to look for in my own projects. Where can I learn more about the basics of software development? I just want to be able to hold an intelligent conversation when talking with developers, outsourcing and reviewing code, etc.

24 Replies

David Ward
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David Ward Entrepreneur
Founder & CEO, Telegraph Hill Software
Start here:

http://www.bloomberg.com/company/announcements/bloomberg-businessweek-releases-code-issue-special-multi-platform-package-demystifying-code/

And beware scrum masters with ninjas on their socks...:-)

David
Sam McAfee
6
0
Sam McAfee Advisor
Building Popup Incubators for Corporate Innovation Programs
Not to be discouraging, but it's a steep climb. Software gets compared to everything (construction, architecture, music, manufacturing, team sports, writing, law) and yet it really isn't like any of those things. The best thing to do would be for you to do a small project with a friend and actually build something. Get a buddy who can code, and make a website together. Get a feel for the realities of writing, debugging, and shipping some code. You can do something very small, and get a real visceral feeling for it. I would be happy to do this with you, if you want. I'd wanted to write a piece on this topic at some point, as well, so maybe now is the time?
Eric Lentz
3
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Eric Lentz Entrepreneur
Business Improvement Through Software Application Development
Good luck! That is probably not too far off from saying that you'd just like to hold an intelligent conversation with a doctor. The field is huge and varied and there's so much to it. It can be tough to find, but look for software developers, or a company of such, where the person you deal with speaks your language. There tends to be a lot more of those these days than in the past.

Nevertheless, should you desire to go down the rabbit hole, then you'd do well to watch some videos on pluralsight.com. I have found the material to be excellent and easy to consume.
Ilya Lipovich
1
2
Ilya Lipovich Entrepreneur
Angel Investor/Operations leader
Peter, My company functions as a CTO service for business founders. We are based in California with development resources around the world. If you are interested in speaking I will be happy to jump on a call or get together for coffee if you are in the SF area. Best, Ilya [removed to protect privacy] ?
David Rowell
5
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David Rowell Entrepreneur
CEO & Founder at LifeLinker Inc
I went to follow this thread because I have the exact same aspirations and challenges. Should I be reassured or dismayed to find that others have the same problem and that there is no easy answer?

Comparing this to wanting to discuss medical issues with a doctor is probably fair, but I think it is easier to understand medicine than programming!

In my case, I studied Info Tech (ie programming) in my undergraduate classes way long ago (anyone need an Algol, Fortran or Cobol programmer?), my MBA double majored in Info Systems (and Marketing), I held a senior marketing job with a computer company, I've done some simple database development, I've specified complex systems, for the last year I've been involved at all levels of getting a new software service up and running. All of this - and I still don't understand the first thing about coding. I know enough to know that I don't know enough, and that's about all.

While I rarely give up on challenges or refrain from learning new skills, I have to concede that to become knowledgeable enough to truly understand and participate meaningfully in software evaluation and 'the basics of software development' is impossible, impractical, and also unnecessary and inappropriate.

I have to rely on my technical people to be competent, and confine myself to higher level discussions with them and a focus on the end user experience, trusting in my people that what goes on 'behind the scenes' is indeed being done properly.

That is an uncomfortable situation to be in, but unavoidable. Today's software is so extraordinarily complex and sophisticated, and there are so many products, services, tools, modules, etc, and different ways of reaching similar end points, that it is not practical for someone who isn't 100% tasked with development type issues to become familiar with such things to the point of being able to meaningfully add value.

Even within the tech/dev field, there are few people who truly are 'good all rounders', even though many claim to be.


David Ward
1
1
David Ward Entrepreneur
Founder & CEO, Telegraph Hill Software
Any business manager will benefit from learning about software, because software and its methods permeate the world as never before.

But obviously you don't have to become an in-depth expert to manage a technology beyond your training and skills. Think of all the other highly technical and specialized disciplines we have to manage as well as software.

General management, project and contracting skills didn't become obsolete just because software began eating the world.
Eric Lentz
0
0
Eric Lentz Entrepreneur
Business Improvement Through Software Application Development
Well said Mr. Rowell, inclusive of your last statement; where would one even decide to start? That is usually more driven by a specific project that uses a specific technology because there's too much out there to have knowledge or even a sense of everything. You can test your technical people, as I assume you have learned to, in order to determine if they can be trusted. That's probably a far better skill to have than to learn the trade yourself.
Chaim Sajnovsky
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Chaim Sajnovsky Entrepreneur
owner at b7dev.com
You don't need t be knowledgeable fr each new technology out there, in fact, no developer is. Just try to know the basic working principle of what a front is, an app as client, server-client relationship and databases (all as concepts and as a lego parts)
That could work for beginners..later, you can keep learning on the fly..try to understand basically what part does.
And don't be shy to test the dev/cto communication skills asking for that..
David Albert
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0
David Albert Entrepreneur • Advisor
Founder & Principal at GreyGoo
I agreed with Chaim--just try to understand the basic building blocks first. Web development is a very opinionated field, so you're going to get a lot of varied opinions on the best approaches and tools for web development. There are 5+ major languages in use, numerous scripting languages, and countless front-end frameworks. It's vast.

This Udemy course doesn't concentrate specifically on web development (as it's inclusive of apps, etc.) and it concentrates on building an MVP (Minimally Viable Product) but it's a really comprehensive course and only $30. https://www.udemy.com/launch-your-idea-idea-to-mvp-with-no-cto-and-no-coding/ Evan does a great job explaining how a non-technical person can take a concept to launch. Honestly, I wish I'd created this course! ;)

Giona Pedditzi
0
0
Giona Pedditzi Entrepreneur
Medical Engineering Consultant at Medical Engineer

Hi Peter, the software development field is quite broad as most of us already stated however, being you, I would start looking at it in a very high level approach. Generally, any complex device whether hardware or software can be represented in a block diagram where all the main components are depicted.

By trying to understand the main parts of a Software development process you will get an idea how all things works together. By doing this, you will begin to create the so-called mental models in your mind. These are the real foundations for you to build upon.

As you will grasp what is involved in the Software development process, you will be able to drill deeper in any section of it. Specifically for Web development, I would try to browse through some very well articulated and illustrated books that depict all the sections in more detail. It may be appropriate for you to learn how to create a very simple program so you can see in practice how it is done. There are many books in the subject, but try to begin with something simple and clear enough.

May I suggest one of my favorites is written by Josh Kaufman, "The first 20 hours, how to learn anything". This book maybe specific for your case as Josh, tries to learn web development being a non-technical person by breaking down the tasks successfully.

Then, he becomes proficient in the subject by following a very methodical approach. Hope this helps.

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