Lionel Camacho is a student developer from the University of Pretoria in South Africa. In January he told us how he got interested in developing. For Windows 8 app development week we asked Lionel how he learned to develop on Windows 8 and to share his tips for other students hoping to learn.
Since I started developing apps for Windows 8 and engaging with students through The AppFactory (find them on Facebook and Twitter: @The_AppFactory) and the MSP programme, they always seem to have common questions they ask like “How did you get started developing apps?” and “How hard is it to get started, what do I need and where can I find resources to learn how to develop apps?” The answer to the first question has already been covered before on my first Microsoft Student blog post.
The second question is the one I get asked most often. In terms of finding the resources and knowledge needed to start developing apps, it really isn’t that difficult at all, Microsoft really has a great amount of easy to find and use resources available to get you started. Resources such as DreamSpark, Dev Centre and build.windowsstore.com are some of the best and easiest ways to give yourself a kick-start in developing apps quickly.
Dreamspark provides all the software and resources you need for free if you’re a student. Dev Centre is the place where you can open your developer account, find samples, upload your apps and engage with the developer community. build.windowsstore.com (Make sure you sign up!) will provide you with tutorials and guidance to get your first app done and in the store in 30 days.
Another great resource is Channel 9 if video tutorials are what you use to learn then it’s a place you cannot miss out on visiting. One of the great Windows 8 series I can recommend is called Windows Store apps for Absolute Beginners.
You can have all the resources and software will only get you so far, your attitude will always determine your success as an app developer. Some of the tips I give students who want to get started are given below:
1. Never fear new challenges, each one is an opportunity learn. Even if it ends in failure you learn something that you wouldn’t have had you not even attempted to tackle it.
2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Whether its fellow students, lecturers or tutors, there is always someone who is willing to help you in the areas you are struggling with. The people around you are usually the best source of help.
3. Make time to expand your development horizons. Most students are so busy studying that they only focus on what they are forced to learn for the courses they are doing. I would advise experimenting with at the very least one new programming language a semester that is not covered by what you’re studying, it will help expand your experience and portfolio and also help improve your skills as a developer.
4. Create a portfolio of your work as soon as possible. This will motivate you to always create work you will be proud of and later it can be showcased to future employers to show exactly what you can do with real tangible evidence of your skills and the quality of your work.
5. Get involved in programmes and initiatives that are aimed at student developers. This is a great way to find help when you are stuck or don’t understand something. Networking with other students is generally a great motivator when you can see what other students are achieving. A great example of such an initiative in South Africa is Geekulcha (find them on Facebook & Twitter: @Geekulcha) founded by Mixo Ngoveni which is “A hub for IT students and young IT Professionals to connect, share, learn, develop, find jobs and put their skills to work.”
How can students contact you if they want to find out more about you?
The easiest place to get hold of me is on twitter, my handle is @LionelCamacho and I am always open to questions students might have about development or anything else they might have queries about. I also have a blog that I recently started where I share all my latest apps and where I will also be posting tutorials in future.
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