From Zero to Hero (hopefully) – Part 1 (Learning ServiceNow and Xcode/Swift)

Part 1 of a series of articles about me learning how to code and delivering two prototypes.

I am a management consultant, which means I get involved in many things. I am 55 years old. Although I have studied computer science at university, and did some software development in my first few years after university, I haven’t really been involved in writing code, or delivering solutions, or being part of IT projects, for over 30 years.

I do have some experience working in IT organisations, but on the strategy side. I have delivered multiple IT strategies, managed architecture teams, and dabbled in analytics. But my day to day work as a consultant is about governance, operating models, roadmaps, strategies and business cases.

So my current client has set me two challenges. I am to get in deep and learn new things, and deliver two working prototypes by the end of the year:

  1. a ServiceNow application implementing a simple service request hopefully integrating to SAP, and
  2. a native iOS app written in Swift and Xcode using the SAP iOS SDK

To give you an idea of what I need to learn very quickly in a short space of time, the last time I did any software development we were using Unix terminals and writing C code in vi and compiling using make. Lots of things have happened since then. I keep hearing things like object oriented, MVC, IDE, Agile, Scrum, CI/CD, DevOps and they sound great except I don’t have any first hand experience on any of them.

This will be an occasional series of articles/journal entries on my progress on the journey and what I will encounter, good and bad. I will have a fellow traveller on the journey, a mobile developer with some knowledge of SAP but limited exposure to ServiceNow and Xcode/Swift.

So far this is what I have done:

  • Attended the Now Forum and did some hands on workshops. Registered as a developer on ServiceNow and created a developer instance and going through the learning paths.
  • Found some books on the iBooks store on Swift app development, and some courses on iTunes U.
  • Started reading the Swift book – wow this is heavy.
  • Figured out how to connect ServiceNow and Xcode to my github account.

My current thoughts are: it’s exciting, but also daunting. So many things to learn. I may have to do some stuff on the weekend.

Also, I keep getting distracted – meetings, events, social. Need to find a way to focus.

I am also a strong extrovert, and find that I lose motivation fast working by myself. I need to find a way to keep motivated by surrounding myself with people, but at the same time not be overly distracted.

I am reminded that I am pretty much following the footsteps of the archetypical Hero’s Journey by Joseph Campbell, so I will also be comparing my progress against the stages of the journey.

Wish me luck!