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Koen Bok
Posted Jul 16 - Read on Facebook

Hey for all you starting coders, I have a question. I run into a lot of people that always wanted to learn coding, but finally got into it.

I think that is mostly due to a shift in perspective of what it means to be a designer, new output requirements like real interaction and animation, and new tools and communities like these.

For us, the biggest thing we can do for Framer is help even more people learn. So what I'd love to hear from you is what ultimately drove you to pull through and get into coding? How did you motivate yourself? What are your tips for others?

32 Comments

Jacky Lee

I have to admit the initial learning curve for Framer was steep for me. I used QC before jumping on Framer because I was reluctant to learn how to code. For non-coders it's hard to *think* like programmers when building these prototypes. I think what got me over the hurdle was learning from the example files and constant trial & errors. Also, I don't think I would've learnt as much if this fantastic group wasn't around...

Josef Richter

I think Framer could be the 21st century version of "Karel the Robot" - that was used back in 80's and 90's to teach basic programming patterns and it was great because you had immediate visual feedback. You could easily build something like that on Framer. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karel_(programming_language)

Koen Bok

Hey Jacky if you had to articulate what shift in "thinking" you had to go through how would you that? Is it the debugger/problem solver midset? Or something completely different?

Jacky Lee

Koen Yes exactly that! Personally, the shift in *thinking* has been pushing beyond “I want this transition to do this when I click that”, and actually think rationally about “how to” achieve the desired outcomes.

But more importantly, I find it empowering to know that if I learn the ability to code, I can use it in a few ways:

- Communicate better with other people, because what you see is what you get.
- Use code as a tool to play with animations that I haven’t even thought of before.

It’s time that we (designers) stop relying on developers for prototypes and let them focus on the proper dev work!

Josef Richter

There's one significant mental shift for people coming from the world of visual tools – the visual tools "always work" - even if you fuck up, you get some result. different than expected, but you get some. Not in coding. There could be just a bracket missing somewhere and the whole code breaks. And you almost never get a precise error message like "a bracket is missing exactly here". So for many beginners it's very easy and very frequent they end up in a situation that their code doesn't work and they don't have slightest idea what's wrong and where to even start fixing it.

Koen Bok

Josef yeah, we call that "code is unforgiving" here. It's something we'll be focussing on making better because I totally agree with you that it's the biggest hurdle.

Harsha Halvi

I kind of come from the World of Java and Objective C, Picking up javascript meant unlearning a lot of things. I used to run away from doing anything when the program broke and i encountered lots of errors. I took a subscription on Codeschool for JS and then kind of started designing stuff. As a developer (And a first time Entrepreneur) i have mused my self to how far i can push boundaries as far as design is concerned. I kind of took up code samples from Github and saw many dribble posts with the tag of framer. The only motivation that i got was when i shared the working prototypes that kind of looked terrible but worked to friends and i made framer part of my daily tools used. Now i am failing faster by prototyping on Framer and getting feedback than opening up Xcode and starting to code stuff. I realize that you asked it for non coders ; but the thing is I as a developer feel i am no good designer and hence i ran away from using lots of tools (Including Sketch ; I dont know how to use Photoshop yet). I guess you can kind of give a year of Subscription to Codeschool;s JavaScript track so that it will be easier to know where to learn from. :)

Valon Ajvazi

Coding is the last thing I would do, when I try to relax myself from the other works I done before like: Design, Architecture, Database, all other plugins, tools. So I choose probably last thing to work with code. For me there are a lot of more important processes, then putting in first way to code

Arvi Raquel-Santos

What got me into coding?
Believe it or not, I actually like it and like to see what made things work. Ultimately, it's helping me to create better experiences.

How do you motivate yourself?
Figuring things out and having a support community (like this one) to help guide you and help you understand.

Tips for others?
Keep being curious about how things work and try to dissect the examples. The comments that people add to the code is a wealth of knowledge.

Koen Bok

Awesome stories. Keep em coming!

Darin Dimitrov

I used to work in advertising (focused on branding and digital campaigns) and have always been a completely visusal designer. I was the kind of guy who would rather get hit in the face than write a line of code, I was afraid of it. It's definitely a kind of imposter syndrome, with every line you write, you feel it's total crap and "real developers" would laugh at you.

The thing that made me start coding was a web project. I didn't have a developer and I didn't want to use templates or Wordpress, so I got my hands dirty. The result wasn't perfect, but the feeling was probably one of the most rewarding ones in my life. Moving from Quartz to Framer was also a huge thing, it got me into functional programming.

I'll try to keep it rather short. Realizing that code is a tool, not a job, really frees your mind. You don't have to become a developer to write code, you're still a designer, but you've learned to use a new tool. Yow won't be as proficient as a full-time developer, but you're not supposed to be. A lot of things in life are like that, we are not proficient with most of the tools we use every day, but we get things done. I cycle every day and get from point A to point B, but I don't have any ambitions to enter Tour de France.

The other thing: it's really not that hard. Task oriented learning seems to work for most of my friends. Doing something quick and dirty that actually works is a great motivator to dive deeper.

Abhishek Nandakumar

While transitioning from Macromedia's tools to JavaScript back in the day, it seemed like you had to jump too many hoops to get your browser to do a certain thing. The pure volume of code seemed daunting. It was also difficult to try to understand to write code sequentially for what you were used to seeing on a timeline. To pitch code highlighting and autocompletion to a person new to code, and this laundry list of features of code editors and text books approach to learning methodologies like object oriented programming in my opinion proved far less effective than starting with an example that is digestible such as what Framer does today. I remember Flash 5 having these tutorials for motion/shape tweens the very first time you started it – these were fantastic because they started as Flash project files and you had to follow the tutorial in the tool itself. I think a similar approach to programming would be a lot more effective.

Koen Bok

"Realizing that code is a tool, not a job, really frees your mind."

Jordan Robert Dobson

Remember the early Rails videos from 37signals? Get setup and building in 5 minutes. Things like that can be very powerful as well.

Jordan Robert Dobson

That's what got me into coding and wanting to realize my ideas and help my developers be more productive.

Justin Mariano

I've always had working knowledge of web development alongside visual design, but it wasn't until recently that I started to really marry the two together in my work. Making things work, move, or animate right in front of my eyes is what really does it for me. I'm able to add a much higher level of fidelity, and can express my ideas much more clearly to clients AND development teams. It really adds to my worth as a UX designer, and is pretty fun too! That's why I keep coding.

For me, just getting started was always the hardest part when learning a new language or development method. The "Hello World", setting up file structures, etc. can sometimes be daunting and intimidating. That, and learning best practices. For developers, these things are essentially like reflexes - however if you don't know them, it'll sabotage your life (and your code) until you do. For anyone just starting to learn how to code, do yourself a favor and try to learn the very basics of programming logic, methods, functions, efficiency, and coding best practices first. It can be tough outside of context, but it will allow you to soak in the more complex stuff much easier. It's always best to learn things the right way first, then to go back and try an relearn bad habits formed out of a lack of proper knowledge.

Rich Zarick

My first start was in basic web development, which started out as curiosity but really got legitimate when I needed to have a portfolio for applying to jobs. The mentality of "websites reloading and flashing and reformatting when I interact with them isn't good enough for me to get a job" drove me to learn jQuery, which was the gateway drug into all of these ideas and tools today! TLDR; I wanted a real job.

Ash Adamson

Tired of seeing designs not properly implemented. The best solution is to learn to code. Framer was incredibly fun and easy to bring your interfaces to life, so I stuck to it. I set aside a month to focus on learning just framer and that helped me stay on it.

Advice: Assign yourself projects to re-create other apps, it'll teach you a lot about the inner-workings of framer.

Koen Bok

Jordan we're working on a set of really cool tutorial videos.

Michael Lee

I've been wanting to learn how to code for the past few years but I finally got into it the past 6 months. For me it was out of necessity since I currently run a startup with my co-founder and I wanted to also contribute with code. The biggest motivation for me was seeing my designs come to life with code and having users actually use our products. I think that loop kept giving me the inspiration to continue to learn code. I loved being able to implement my designs with code. My tips for others is to not only learn to just code but have a goal in mind, for example - to build a very simple product that does 1 or 2 things. If you are building towards something, than I believe learning to code becomes more fun. Also I would say pick a good coding resource to learn from and stick with it until the end and I recommend reading 'Make It Stick', the principles in this book really helped me with my coding journey. Also finding a mentor that is an excellent engineer helps, luckily my co-founder is also my coding mentor and pushes me through. Also learning JS the past few months really helped me with getting onboarded with CoffeeScript, so Framer has been super useful to me!

Vicky Yang

I got super frustrated relaying on developers to do everything for me. I've always been quite independent, so I started learning to code, in that way I don't have to trouble anyone. Still finding it tricky, but staying positive till one day I finally 'get it'. I think building your own portfolio site is always a good way to start, as it is really easy to create side-project that you don't actually really 'want' to build. With your own portfolio it get personal as you are judged as a designer based on your portfolio. Therefore you will do everything you can to make your portfolio stand out.

Mark Hansen

Few things. 1) Seeing absolutely stunning interactive experiences on the web again and again. It just ate at my soul. 2) I came into a big project that had a tense/hostile environment and the devs were blocking me with saying that something couldn't be done. Though I knew there was some BS, I unfortunately couldn't challenge them or call them out because I lacked credibility. But more importantly, I couldn't connect with them as coworkers by saying I understand the trenches their in. 3) I'm doing a civic tech project and civic tech isn't sexy, so finding committed programers is a rarity. Just started getting into angular so we'll see how it goes D: I'm going to come back to framer more when I go through the trenches a bit more with javascript

Luis Ricardo La Torre

Example of really amazing work that can't be done on any other prototyping tool

Soleio

Getting my hands on Joshua Davis's praystation hard drive was my seminal moment. In combination with his books on dirt-simple ActionScript examples, these two resources gave me the courage to tinker with programming and learn to become a Flash developer/designer. http://www.eastgate.com/catalog/Praystation.html

Ben Lee

Actually picked up code when writing scripts for Half-life 2 mods. Also learned the ins and outs of Photoshop when creating tileable textures for the same mods.

Koen Bok

Ha I remember Joshua Davis so well!

David Martinez

When I use the word coding, I mean strictly front end coding of front end HTML pages, as well as some dynamic coding using Flash. At first I didn't want to learn coding (1997) but a developer friend put Apache on my work machine (Windows NT?), we made a 'Hello World' page, walked over to another machine and pulled it up in Netscape Navigator. So what did it? It was that lightbulb moment when I understood this string of characters can form instructions on how content is displayed - and SHARED across a network! The second thing (some time later) was I was really into video learning and purchasing Lynda.com DVDs (yes, after books and before the streaming we had DVDs!) and there was one or two from Josh Ulm on how to program Flash. I was hooked.

David Martinez

To control the first version of code nowadays, I'll grab something in codepen.io that fits as a base solution to my problem, tweak the hell out of it in a fork, then shoot that new link to a developer. They can pick and choose what to use the production code... I too hid my great frustration at not being able touch the final version. I'm a keyboard cowboy. AND I get to refer to the link as my master 'visual' so it can't be jacked up.

Aaron Abentheuer

Hey, awesome conversation! I’ve been doing QC for as long as I can remember (way before Origami came out) but have always been afraid of doing “real” coding. Then in the first semester of design-school we had a Processing course and the model of the always running loop() made the jump from QC quite easy. The next jump was from that to coding for iOS when Swift came out. I was working on a project for school back then where I knew that it had to be the real deal and that’s when I really got into coding. A year later I attended WWDC on a Scholarship. So I think the most important factor is just finding a project for yourself that keeps you motivated enough so you just don’t give up. — There’s another big thing though I was wondering about. Even though QC and similar tools involve thinking like a programmer they don’t come across as development tools and seem less scary. I think this could be a job for something like Framer to employ some sort of more descriptive UI to make the code more approachable and make Framer feel more like a design-tool which happens to have a code-UI instead of a development-tool that happens to be very capable for designers.

Josh Davis

It was breaking through the scariness of code. I used Codecademy as a "paint-by-numbers" (code-by-numbers) tutorial. Because it requires almost zero thinking, I was able to walk through the entire thing without any fear. I didn't come away remembering most of it, except that I could follow along and I completed something. I then turned to Team Treehouse because their coding classes are extremely newbie friendly. From there, to learn more, I read books which require more thinking. I then jumped into to freelance jobs which forced me to work through the hard stuff I ignored at that point. You also need a mentor and StackOverflow. Learning Framer has proven a lot harder for me, personally. Because the amount of tutorials and inspiration is limited. But I have some ideas I want to build out to help the next generation.

German Bauer

For me it was a direct link to something I needed to demonstrate like a motion aspect and where I needed the ability to parametrize for covering/testing/exploring a number of "what if I change..." which after a while you realize is much more expensive to explore in timeline based tools like After Effects (even though the initial mental investment is lower). When I have to make 10 changes or more, I'd rather build code/tool to explore freely if that costs me the same time or less.

Christian Hagel

I've coded for a long time but I've found for me as a designer the best way to learn is to build something, not learn about variables, tuples, and so on. designcode.io does it well. AppCoda has worked well for me, and I am hopeful that code4startup.com will also work for me. Not knowing real programming concepts sometimes hurts because I don't know how to do advanced stuff, but it's a tradeoff I'm willing to live with.

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