Codemaker demystifies the world of code

Text: Clara Guibourg

A desire to learn more about how programming works united the 12 participants who gathered for MiniBarLab’s CodeMaker course, hosted by Publicis Drugstore on Thursday.

“I’m a complete novice,” said participant Diane Gracie, 30. In her work as senior accounts director at Publicis, she often comes in contact with developers.

Diane Gracie
Diane Gracie

“This is quite helpful for understanding what my clients are talking about a little better. And it’s really interesting how it all fits together,” she said.

So what’s the course about?

“Computers are like great complex abacuses,” instructor Peter Brownell, from Code Positive, tells his attentive students.

In other words, CodeMaker takes care to really start at the beginning, before moving swiftly through the next 4,000 years or so of tech history. From a hands-on crash course in HTML and CSS to how exactly programs talk to each other through APIs, CodeMaker covers a lot of ground in just a few hours.

“The point is not to turn people into programmers, but to understand the principles behind it,” said Christian Ahlert from MiniBarLabs.

“One thing people don’t have a lot of is time, and in daily life we often have very little time to reflect over how even your own website works,” he explained.

With Codemaker, MiniBarLabs hope to get people to see technology as an investment,rather than a cost, and the course has been held several times a month for over two years now.

It may sound like a lot to get through in an afternoon, but the audience at Publicis Drugstore seems rapt.

Peter Brownell from Code Positive demystifying code for his students.
Peter Brownell from Code Positive demystifying code for his students

“We do tend to have a lot of exhausted people in the room at the end of the day,” admits instructor Peter Brownell.

“It’s fun to see the shift. Participants usually go through a phase of confusion in the morning. It’s great to see the transition sometime half-way through, with everyone suddenly cheering up as they start to understand HTML.”

One thing CodeMaker focuses on is Open Source software and the merits of a ‘hacker culture’.

“This hacker isn’t someone who’s going to steal your credit card details, though,” Peter Brownell clarified.

Instead, it’s about a community sharing, modifying and improving code together – a network model that’s become the dominant form for software development, explained Brownell, hoping to get his participants to choose a “bazaar model” over a “cathedral”.

As the course concludes, Peter Brownell summarises what he hopes his students have learnt about code:

“It’s not that obscure, and it is something you can understand.”