In the spring semester of 2015, Professor Allen Tucker taught a course that tasked Whitman students to build open source software solutions for real, operational nonprofits. The team I was a part of built a web based inventory management system for the Blue Mountain Action Council Food Bank. It was no doubt my favorite course I’ve taken at Whitman because at the end of it I had something I could point at and say, “I made that and it made a difference for somebody.” Even better, I now have two things to point at because at the end of that course Prof. Tucker set up a meeting for us to present the project to faculty and local technology professionals, among who was Nanqi You. Nanqi, with funding from Whitman’s great internship grants, set me up with an interesting project to work on at her company, Walla Walla Web Weavers.
The project is an iOS point of sale app that works with their existing online shopping cart solution. Their clients who sell stuff, mostly wineries and a few other local shops, want to be able to sell to the online masses with an eye catching custom shop but also want to make sales the old fashion brick-and-mortar point of sale way, and ideally they only want to update one database of product information. That last bit is best met with a custom point of sale app. The one we’re building will run on an iPad with a credit card reader accessory.
It’s been a task and a half to start from knowing nothing about programming for Apple devices to having something of consideration and though it was intimidating always it was never boring. Even though the programming bug caught me pretty early, there will always be more for me to learn and I don’t think I’ll ever stop feeling like a novice. And that is what makes it fun. When you learn new things about computers you always feel like you’re just scratching at the surface of a more complex, intricate and fascinating beast. It’s immediately engaging in the same way as taking a bunch of 101 courses. But when one concept clicks it never fails to unearth a pile of new, even more interesting topics. It’s great. I’d recommend programming to anyone.
Thanks Nanqi and Whitman for keeping me off the Netflix this summer.