Things were pretty simple when I first learned to code, almost ten years ago. I started by building simple websites. Once I figured out how to set up a LAMP server, I started hacking away, guided by free online tutorials and blog posts. When I later learned to build desktop applications (badly), it with C# and WPF, guided by the Internet and plenty of trial and error.
It was hard, but it was also straightforward. Even as an absolute beginner, I had a clear roadmap to get to where I wanted to. But now, aspirant coders are bombarded with a dizzying list of frameworks, languages, and libraries, all of which the folks at Hacker News insist are essential.
It’s ironic that despite laudable initiatives like the Hour of Code and CodeAcademy, it’s never been harder to learn to program.
Which is why I think Fog Creek’s Gomix is pretty interesting initiative. The philosophy behind this new service is simple: “It ought to be as easy to make an app as it is to edit a blog post or to change a formula in a spreadsheet.”
To accomplish that, it’s created a pretty interesting developer work-flow. You start off with a fully-functional application. Then, you can start hacking away at it, changing only the elements you need to.
Multiple people can collaborate on the same application or bot simultaneously through its in-browser IDE, allowing you to work on your project no matter what device you’re on, and without setting up a development environment.
Fog Creek CEO, Anil Dash, describes this as being “like Google Docs for editing code” which he believes makes Gomix an ideal teaching tool, as well as helpful for pair programming.
You can try Gomix from today. If you need any inspiration, it already has an impressive collection of barebones projects, including for Slack bots, Alexa skills, and Bootstrap websites.