Moriarty: How to develop 
that killer app – learn to code

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

You love your smartphone, always have the latest device and check Twitter before you grab your coffee in the morning. Or perhaps you recently purchased your first smartphone and are getting used to all the computing power you’re carrying around.

Either way, you might be struck by that inspirational moment of creativity, societal good and potential profit when you ask the following question: “Why isn’t there an app that does this?”

And there you are. You have the idea but little notion of how to create it.

Mobile devices already are one of the most pervasive consumer digital technologies the world has seen. At 6.7 billion, mobile subscriptions should pass the number of human beings sometime this year, and 60 percent of the global population has a mobile phone. Compare this to the personal computer, which experts estimate has about 2 billion units worldwide with slowing growth. If you are looking to reach the most people, mobile devices are the platform of the present and future.

Two main players dominate the smartphone market. Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android have between 80 and 90 percent of the smartphone market, with Android defeating Apple in market share around 3 to 1. So, if you’re looking to reach the most users for your killer app, you likely will want to focus on these platforms.

While many people have ideas for a hot new app, getting it created is another story. Assuming you don’t have access to a venture capitalist and an engineering team, what do you do? You have to write code. Over the past year, there has been discussion of “programming literacy” – the concept that to compete at a high level in the 21st century, you will have to know how to write code. If you want to build the next big app yourself, you will need to increase your programming literacy, which also will enhance your overall marketability.

At Waubonsee Community College, you can walk in the door having never touched a computer and take our Business Information Systems class, learning computer and office software skills. You never can have written a line of code before and take our Introduction to Programming class, learning how to write code and build software. From there you can take classes that will teach you how to build mobile device applications, server side applications, databases, a beautiful website and more. There also are business classes that can help you achieve your goal – think finance, accounting, entrepreneurship, economic, marketing, management and more.

A leading technology theorist recently wrote in a CNN column, “Learn to code – get a job.” This is good advice because people with a strong coding skillset and a passion for technology rarely are looking for work. Increasing your programming literacy can help you get your business idea off the ground, strengthen your skillset and understand the digital world around you.

• Tim Moriarty is an information systems instructor at Waubonsee Community College. The Waubonsee column runs the third Wednesday of each month in the Kane County Chronicle.

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