Treehouse Review: How a Non-Coder Used Treehouse to Build a Social App

By Istvan Fekete on April 18, 2014

Aaron Watkins knew nothing about coding when he started working on his first mobile application. After wasting time and money attending classes for coding, he realized that there was a much better and more fun way to learn how to code – Treehouse.

After launching his own mobile application, he is now busy working on a social app, and he has great plans for the future. I reached out Aaron via email and asked him to share his story.

Why Treehouse?

The videos were extremely easy to follow and even quirky and entertaining.

They have tracks and program the curriculum to make it easy to learn the things you want to learn – even if you skip around.

For example, I haven’t watched the foundations of Objective-C course and went straight to building a simple app. I didn’t feel lost at all – even without the foundations course.

What did Treehouse give you compared to other, classic classes?

Treehouse was just a very easy to follow curriculum that allowed me to learn the things I wanted to learn when I wanted to learn them and at my own pace. I could rewind the video, download source code and even ask questions in a forum that got responses very quickly.

I started with iOS as I absolutely love the operating system, Objective-C, and Xcode. For me, this was a good place to start. I have one app on the Google Play store, but am looking into Apportable as a platform to port apps over to Android from iOS going forward.

I do feel like a programmer. I was even able to move to a technical team within Walmart.com (Product Strategy – Mobile) because of what I’ve taught myself.

How did Treehouse seed your app dreams?

Treehouse seeded my app dream with a tutorial on using Parse.com that enables easy social networking in a native app.

That was the foundation of what I wanted to build. I saw that you didn’t need a PhD in Computer Engineering to do this and I was hooked, curious, and got to work.

What was the worst moment you experienced? The best moment?

The worst moment was realizing that I spent over a year in school learning something I didn’t want (HTML5). I didn’t do any iOS development in that year and I had to almost learn from scratch. The best moment was definitely launching my first app.

When I got the email that my app was accepted I was on top of the world.

Treehouse helped me after taking a year off from iOS. I did have to learn from scratch basically, but Treehouse made it much easier to get back up to speed and go even further.

I actually understood what I was doing at a deeper level such that I could apply the concepts to other projects outside of their examples.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on building this social networking app around fitness. I’m also getting some GREAT advice from the AppMasters group that Steve Young founded. Just yesterday, they had some advice that had me change my entire monetization model. It was based on their experience and it just made sense! I’m so glad to be a part of Treehouse and AppMasters.

Any plans for the future?

I would love to keep developing apps that I love/need and hope that other people need them too. I will see where this social app takes me. I have built a business model around it – hopefully it pays off.

Advice to those with no coding skills?

Just start.

Even if you hire a developer – you should know how to program – at least basic websites. You should get familiar with the terminology and realize that learning a programming language is very similar to learning a speaking language. It’s learning a principle, applying that principle, and repeating.

Start now. Get familiar with resources. Find like-minded people who are interested in coding (took me way too long to do this). Join a group and sign up for something like Team Treehouse to help get you started.

Photo Credit: c_ambler