This article was published on March 11, 2016

How to learn about software development without writing a single line of code

How to learn about software development without writing a single line of code
Nate Swanner
Story by

Nate Swanner

Former Reporter, TNW

TNW's former West Coast writer in the PNW (Portland, Oregon). Nate loves amplifying developers, and codes in Swift when he's not writing. If TNW's former West Coast writer in the PNW (Portland, Oregon). Nate loves amplifying developers, and codes in Swift when he's not writing. If you need to get in touch, Twitter is your best bet.

Learning how to code takes diligent effort and tons of time digging into Xcode or another developer environment, but there’s another component that you may be overlooking.

Regardless of what type of development you’re learning — or even which language you’re interested in — you can learn a lot without ever writing a single line of code.

Because I code in Swift, I’ll be sharing some of my tips and sources for that discipline. What I suggest applies to everyone, though; you’ll just have to do a bit of digging.

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Email (and a Magazine)

Yes, email sucks — but it can teach you a thing or two about code.

Subscribing to newsletters is a great way to keep up with all the goings-on as a learner. Often weekly, newsletters surface some great information on what’s currently going on.

For Swift, here are my top five newsletters. My list goes far deeper than this, though:

This Week in Swift
iOS Dev Weekly
Swift Sandbox
Swift Weekly
Ray Wenderlich

If that’s not so much your speed, there’s a pretty handy e-magazine called ‘Learn to Program’ that is also available for iOS and Android. It covers a wide range of topics on all sorts of languages and technologies.

Credit: The Next Web

Social Media

Developers love to tweet when they’re working on something, and often do a lot of thinking out loud about projects.

They also tweet about problems they’re experiencing, which may be the same you’re encountering.

Though Stack Overflow can be a bit toxic to newcomers, it’s still a good place to dig through questions and see if there are any solutions you may be looking for. While more basic queries are often locked for being too vague, a more focused search may yield some cool results.

It’d be unwise to overlook Reddit. Another place known for its harsh users, Reddit nonetheless has bright spots. For me, the Swift subreddit is a great place to learn, and there are tons of subreddits out there for all kinds of languages and disciplines.

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Sometimes, watching how it’s done is helpful.

Plenty of places have videos on coding; even Apple and Google make some post-event videos available, and Google is great about making videos when it announces new features or APIs.

If you’re learning Swift, Ray Wenderlich is one of the best. Though many of the videos are behind a paywall, I highly recommend what Ray’s team has on offer. It’s worth the cash, I promise.

There’s also YouTube; many developers post videos of their coding sessions, and use the medium to update followers on the progress of projects.

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We’ll do it live!

While videos are a polished, clean look at how it’s done — it’s nothing like doing it in real life. Seasoned developers won’t tell you this very often, but they screw up just as much as noobs. is like Twitch, except it’s all developers doing their thing. There’s plenty of languages or disciplines to choose from, so you’re bound to find something you like. The livestreams are also made available as videos once it’s finished, so you don’t have to worry about dropping everything to catch your favorite broadcaster.



You might think podcasts are the best form of terrible morning radio we have, and you’re right. But, they’re also good for learning about code.

In fact, there are some really great podcasts dedicated to nothing but code and development, some even as short as five minutes. Here are a few you’ll definitely want to check out:

Under the Radar
Coder Radio
Ray Wenderlich
iOS Bytes
Software Engineering Daily



Blogging platform Medium is the new normal for developers who like to discuss what they’re doing.

You could always search for developers who house their own blog, but Medium has quickly become my go-to for finding info on new technologies and tutorials on how things are done.

A quick search for a language or platform will return more than you thought you were ready for, and that’s a good thing. Follow other users, hashtags and topics, and I promise you’ll be coming back to Medium often.

Credit: Shutterstock

Apps require code, not your brain

We all learn differently, but it’s not always about hacking out a bunch of lines of code and crossing your fingers as you hit ‘build.’ Some of the time, it’s as much about the logic of coding as it is the actual practice.

Listening and reading copiously will serve you just as well as writing code all day, especially when you’re learning. Those times when you’re thinking to yourself ’I hate this, I don’t get any of it’ can probably be remedied with some additional information from someone who breaks it down differently for you.

Code is linear. Learning how to do it isn’t. Supplement your time in Xcode or Android Studio (or whatever IDE you like) with these methods, and soon it’ll be second nature.

Read next: Here’s the one thing everyone learning to code should do, no matter what