If the software you have doesn’t do what you want, code your own

If the software you have doesn’t do what you want, code your own. Yes that’s right, you could, you don’t have to be anyone special to learn to create code. Especially if you’re a person who can follow instructions and has a need that is not covered by current software.

As some of you know, I use computers and their wonderful software tools to help me  with visual disabilities. Without them I simply could not function at the level I want to. Compilers, editors, IDE’s, voice command and control of the computer, screen magnifiers, software to aid me with my disability the list goes on and on. 

But as great as the software is, there are times when you want something to work the way you want it to, not necessarily as others may think you want it to work.

I am not saying everyone can or should bother to write another web browser or word processor. But there are times when we use software and say I wish this could do ‘insert wish here’ or why are there so many functions, I just want to do ‘insert the simple task here’.

There is no dark art to programming, everything can be learned; who knows you might even think it’s fun and may become a job or lifetime career. No need to think it’s a young persons game, us older folks can do it too.

Today we have JavaScript, Progressive Web Apps (PWA), Mobile Apps Cross platform Desktop apps. You don’t need to be a nerd to write a simple useful PWA, host it on Netlify and be able to access it from any browser. And that is just a very small list, as they say Google it.

I love being able to write simple applications and Powershell scripts, combining various tasks that run either by one click or voice command, to make my life easier.

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Now let’s not pretend coding a full application is easy for a beginner, it’s not. But it is a learnable skill, and it’s kind of like really like a never ending puzzle that gives your brain something to do. 

Once you learn one programming language there is a sort of a connection to the others. So, if you start with c++ and then move to python, you will find that it is “familiar” and should make sense; and vice versa. Some may disagree with me on this point, but that’s life, it would be very boring if we all thought the same. It may seem like everyone is saying to start with Python and I see no reason not to, however if you want to go with c++ or Java, then go ahead.

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For example, one of my recent projects was a To Do App… yes there are lots of To Do applications around, some are even free to use. However, for me, with both my visual disabilities and the personal desire for clutter free design that allowed me to get things done with a minimum of fuss, I just wanted a simple To-do list, add an item then when it was done remove it; all with a plain simple interface, etc. 

My ToDo list app, written  in Python Tkinter GUI (Graphic User Interface) code, started out very simple. As I learned more about python, features were added to the code, testing as I went, making sure first the feature worked and also I needed it to be included. My ToDo is still a very minimalist app, but I like it and it works for me.

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All of this also applies to scripting, on  Windows 10 or Raspberry PI, Linux. Scripting and automation allows computers to really live up to the hype of being the tools that help us get work done more efficiently.

So, go on, have a go, coding can be frustrating, but it can also be a lot of fun, regardless of which language, operating system, etc. It’s a very rewarding  endeavour.

Cheer’s Al