Danny Mathews is an iOS superstar. He's a self-taught coder, he dreams big, and he's a TA for our cohort of talented iOS students. Lighthouse Labs launched the first iOS bootcamp in Canada, and Danny helped develop its curriculum from the start.
Let’s start from the beginning! How did you get into coding?
It started when I was in Business Intelligence at Hootsuite. I an idea for an iOS app, so I learned the basics of Objective-C through Treehouse. Then, I built my app and launched it over the course of about 6 months. I was working out of Launch Academy during that time, which is where Lighthouse Labs operates, and I became friends with its co-founders Khurram and Jeremy.
You were an integral part of the first iOS bootcamp in Canada! That’s pretty incredible. How has your experience been as a TA?
I like it. I remember being a beginner like our students. I enjoy helping them grow from aimlessly sifting through online lessons to truly developing apps. I've also really enjoyed the community that has emerged here at Lighthouse Labs. Before, I had a group of developers I’d meet up with once in a while, but it’s not even close to the type of group I have here.
Making the transition from just building your own applications to mentoring students is a big leap. Why did you decide to make that shift?
Two things. One, I get to absorb a ton of information. Lots of people don’t understand that a relationship like that benefits the mentor as much as the student. There's a real learning benefit for me. Second, to see that first time someone puts their app on their phone - it’s amazing. You're surrounding yourself with people that are trying to build stuff. It’s a super entrepreneurial community, which is inspiring.
The urge to innovate and build is pretty common here. The Demo Days seem to always be reflective of that.
My experience in teaching has enlightened me as to how we can build a developer community in Vancouver. What I take out of this is that having a learning centre like Lighthouse Labs is the start of a stronger ecosystem. As the talent base grows, you can get the next Unbounce, Hootsuite, or Clio from here.
What’s the most interesting thing you face with people who are still hesitant to get into the industry?
It’s interesting to me when people think age still matters. It really doesn't matter at all - what matters is the different learning styles people have and how they utilize them. There is the coder that does and then thinks about it, then there’s the coder that reads and researches and then does.
Which one are you?
I probably fit into the first case. I look at an app and imagine what it will do, and only once I run into a problem will I look at the documentation.
The seemeingly endless launch of great new iOS products is sparking a lot of people’s interest. What new trends should we know about in developing them?
Apple came out with the new language, Swift, so a lot of the iOS developers are learning it. We’re interacting with the same APIs and we’re using different syntax. It’s fun to be a developer and play with all these things. They say that Swift is a lot like Closure, or a lot of the other modern languages that are coming out. One of the things we may see with Swift is that a lot of developers have stayed away from iOS because of Objective-C, but now with Swift you see more crossover developers. You need to know how to solve programming problems, which is universal, but you think about it differently because it’s mobile.
This feature is part ofan ongoing series on our amazing TAs. Read the other ones below: