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How Much Knowledge Is Needed For App Development?

I have recently started the iOS development with Swift 2.0 track, but I wanted to know just how much knowledge of swift is necessary before you can go out on your own and start developing apps by yourself?

I know that a certain basic knowledge of the language is necessary for success, but at what point can you stop taking courses and learn to make apps through practice alone? I know that it will take a long time to get skilled, but I want to be able to work on my own projects as soon as possible. Pasan Premaratne Amit Bijlani Ash Furrow Ben Jakuben Douglass Turner Gabe Nadel Josh Timonen Sam Soffes

P.s. This question applies to Android app development with Java as well, for those who are interested.

2 Answers

Nathan Tallack
Nathan Tallack
22,159 Points

This question is very much dependant upon your goals.

If your goal is to develop an app that you feel personally motivated to develop so that you can achieve a personal goal you have set out, then the answer is "surprisingly easy".

If your goal is to develop an app that you are financially motivated to develop so that you can achieve a financial goal you have set out, then the answer is "most likely very difficult".

Let's examine the personal motivation scenario.

You have an idea for an app. Maybe something that someone else has done before that you think you would like to do also, just to know how it can be done, or perhaps to expand upon it or do it better. Then you have a lot of your work done for you already. You already have your functional and non-functional requirements clearly identified. You know what it needs to look like and how it needs to work. Hopefully it is something that confirms to an existing template and uses well designed frameworks and standards. Then it is just a matter of learning those and developing with them.

All achievable within a few tens of hours work to your first working beta that you could testflight with your friends.

It is not likely to make you much money, either because there are so many other kinds like it out there, or because you have not done all the hard work required to make money from an app (most of the time), but remember you were not doing it for financial gain, you were doing it for personal reasons. So job well done. Move onto the next app! :)

For the financial motivation scenario, you would be well advised to do a lot of research. There are almost as many books out there detailing how to achieve success with mobile app and game development out there as there are variations of the Candy Crush Saga in the iTunes App Store. So go jump on amazon, type in "Mobile App Development" and spend a few hours reading the reviews on the books. Invest in an Amazon Prime membership (if you have not already) and read as much as you can.

You should spend an equal amount of time learning to code as you do learning to successfully make money as an independent mobile app/game developer. If you are not doing that then you are not likely to maximise your chance of success.

My recommendation, spend a good amount of time on personal motivation projects before you start investing time and money into the financial motivation projects. ;)

Thank you for your insight Nathan.

Can anyone else comment on this please?

Pasan Premaratne
Pasan Premaratne
Treehouse Teacher

Nathan answer is a good one. It all depends on your goals. I'd add that the personal-app-goal is a necessary milestone to the financial-success-app milestone if you intend to develop the app yourself. Get lots of projects our and get them out often in front of people. Finishing an app is just one milestone. Fixing bugs, adding features in a timely fashion are all part of the process as well.

In terms of treehouse content, we've framed our beginner track (currently underway) as necessary knowledge. At that point you should feel comfortable enough to start working on your own projects.

The last thing I'll mention is that this field is unlike most. You can't do a set amount of learning and then move on to doing. Apple releases new things every year, software development practices change...be prepared to be constantly learning.