By Cleo Whittingham.
The world has never been more connected than it is now. More and more each day we’re seeing this emergence of people coming together to work, play and share.
It’s a very exciting time and all bought about by technology, the heart of which is the internet. I see technology as the core and the internet as the fertile earth we all play a part in planting seeds which bloom into conversations, games, debates, education, creativity and so much more.
Sometimes it can feel like information overload. You start looking for one particular subject or topic and you’re simply inundated with information and often find yourself drifting over to ‘youtube’ to view the latest craze, ‘Flash mob’, or ‘Harlem Shake’.
Sharing experiences, photos, videos and most importantly knowledge.
When I decided that I was going to attempt to build my own apps, I didn’t really know what I was supposed to look for. Sitting at my computer screen, looking at the flashing point, wondering how to search for ‘tools to build apps’, ‘learn to build apps’. I didn’t even know what an SDK was.
My thought process started with downloading Xcode and when I realised that the software was not going to be as straightforward to use as I’d hoped, there was something in my mind that told me that there must be a library of code somewhere that can be used to play/test/learn with, I didn’t know it was called an API library.
I’d check out the iPhone group on LinkedIn and read the discussions and every time I came across a term, phrase or reference that I didn’t understand, I’d quickly google it. As you can imagine, this was extremely time consuming. I wanted to connect with people who I could have a conversation with, who could answer my questions, give me advice and tips and set me on my way.
I’d found a writing opportunity on line with a company that wanted articles for an app, so I decided to ask their developer if they could answer some questions for me. They were happy to do so, at a cost.
They very kindly gave me a break down of what this consultation would include: –
“Consulting services on app development. In this set-up we wouldn’t actually do any of the programming ourselves, but would provide any other services you need related to creating an app, from simply answering questions on how to find, negotiate with, and communicate what you want to programmers to more advanced services, such as creating the app mock-ups, setting up your iTunes account and agreements to sell the app, advising on how to create a steady revenue stream with your apps, communicating with programmers, coordinating the creation of the app design elements, marketing the app, etc. for a flat fee of $1,000 per app”
There was an additional $50/hour to project manage the development of the app. This did not include the cost of the actual development.
Whilst I appreciated the advice and the quote, this for me was way out of my budget, as my budget was £0. I remember thinking that I must be loosing my mind because why would anyone want to tell me anything for FREE, which is really what I was looking for.
As a creative I never want to undervalue someones time, effort and skill, everybody has to put food on their table. As a writer I’ve worked for free on many occasions, that’s just how it is in the filmmaking industry. At the start, you work for little or no money, to build connections, network and to add credits to your resume so you’re building up a wealth of experience at the same time. Whilst I understand for a seasoned professional, working for free is out of the question, or so I thought.
I couldn’t afford the consultation and even if I could have at that stage, I’d have used the money to go and shoot a short film.
I sat and thought about what I was asking for. Where can I find somewhere to learn more about building apps and all that it entails…..for FREE.
I got the fact that, if someone told me this information for free, I could then go on to build apps and make money from it, therefore that person/company is providing a valuable service, so why should they get nothing out of it.
Finding Corona Labs was like the answer to every question I’d asked, the stepping stone to cross the stream. I’d finally found a company that not only wanted to sell their SDK but they wanted to help you to learn how to use it. Developers and users of the SDK from all over the world were chatting away in the forums, sharing code and ideas. If someone came across a stumbling block, there were dozens of developers giving their advice, opinions and code for FREE. Some were experienced, some, like me, where complete beginners. Everything I needed to know was all in one place, with the support of the developers.
Today if I type “learn how to code” into google, there are a wealth of companies, blogs etc that can get you started. The thing I still love about Corona is that everything is in one place. You can learn to code from newbie to experienced coder coming from a different language, you can get tips and advice on marketing, adding music and graphics and so much more.
I think it’s perhaps much easier to get started today than it was three years ago but the important point is Sharing information and Knowledge.
Since I’ve started coding, I’m so excited about learning this new skill that I want to tell everybody about it. I came across an organisation called STEMNET, who create opportunities to inspire young people in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. People working in those industries volunteer to go into schools and share their experiences within the industry with young students.
There are coding clubs, forums and organisations dedicated to sharing knowledge. The reason why I was keen to write for Widget, was for this exact reason. I’d like to share my experiences and knowledge with others who may be in search of a bit of advice, or know someone who needs that little push in the right direction.
Many people I know and meet have ideas for games and apps, many gamers love gaming and want to find a way in, but as soon as I mention app development or coding, they back away and I mean fast.
Coding and game development may not be for everyone but I think the more people in the industry that can share and be open with their experiences and knowledge, the better it will be for those coming into the industry. If you’re a complete newbie it can feel so intimidating coming into this environment, simply because you feel as if you’re an intruding, imposter, that’s how I felt.
Giving up an hour or so a week to anyone with an interest in coming into gaming/coding is an hour well spent.
Helping others to plant their seeds in the fertile soil can only serve to benefit us all.
Cleo Whittingham is an app developer based in Birmingham in the UK, with a background in writing for a slightly different screen. She completed her MA in Screenwriting at the Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology, and was drawn to app development as a way to complement her digital storytelling by including game elements into her app designs. You can find her on twitter @LuvApp!