Bringing People Closer to Code

Rent the Runway's Camille Fournier on broadening the community

When I talk with developers about what needs to change in the programming world, I frequently hear two separate sets of concerns:

  • What can we do to make developers’ lives easier? Better tools, new techniques, and new kinds of abstraction are at the core of that conversation.

  • What can we do to encourage people who need software to take up programming themselves? Some of this is tools, but much more of it is social expectations. Coding is becoming ubiquitous.

The first may feed into the second, but the second may change the whole way we look at programming. Despite years of attempts with varying levels of success, bringing programming tools to subject-matter experts offers the potential of a huge reduction in human-to-human communication breakdowns.

Last month, I talked with Camille Fournier, VP of Architecture at Rent the Runway about ways to make programming more accessible. She suggests changing the priorities of the development conversation, to invite many more people in.

Highlights of our conversation included:

  • “Enable many many more people to write some software” (1:26)
  • Not just a matter of increasing development speed (1:58)
  • Tooling can help achieve basic programming literacy (2:51)
  • Rent the Runway’s efforts to help its non-programming employees learn (3:48)
  • What options are there for training beginners? (4:35)
  • The importance of “a taste of success” (5:20)
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