Some people love tinkering. They enjoy repurposing old bits and pieces to make something new, whether it’s a garbage-catching trashcan or a smartphone application, and are able to solve problems on their own. Others need step-by-step instructions to assemble their IKEA furniture or accomplish the most basic technological tasks.
Koding is meant for the latter group. The service, which launched yesterday after a year-long beta and a total raise of $9.25 million from two funding rounds, was built to make it easier for laymen to get support from a knowledgeable community and develop programs with simple tools.
Devrim Yasar, the company’s co-founder and CEO, says that his goal is to help a new generation learn to take control of the technologies that surround them without making them withstand difficult on-boarding processes along the way.
“Imagine that every time you wanted to take a cab in the Upper East Side that someone told you where to buy the wheels, where to buy the steering wheel, and then told you to assemble it and learn how to drive,” Yasar says. That’s what people have to do whenever they want to build simple programs or websites, he says. “We need to make it more like a cab ride.”
People need to be able to accomplish basic tasks — like setting up their own server or learning a programming language — without having to go through the hassle of finding hosting, messing with domain names, and trying to figure everything out for themselves. Koding is meant to make that happen.
The first thing Koding users see when they signup is a global activity stream that resembles something like Yammer or Facebook. This stream is punctuated by references to specific things, such as the Ruby programming language or GitHub, that can be expanded and made the focus of Koding’s social interface. Yasar says that this is meant to make it easy for new users to join the conversation and (to parrot a line favored by social media douchebags) engage the community.
From there they are able to set up their own server with Koding — the company currently offers just one option, which costs $5 per month — and start installing and using applications. Some users have built simple photo editors using Aviary’s tools, which are used by Twitter and Flickr, among other image-focused services. Others have made it easy to install and run software pulled from GitHub. But perhaps the tools most aligned with Koding’s goal are those that allow multiple users to code in the same environment, like a programming-focused version of Google Docs.
Koding is far from the only service to offer such tools. Many services are trying to help the masses learn how to code while social sites like GeekList and Stack Overflow purport to offer knowledgeable and helpful communities. Koding hopes to differentiate itself by combining those things into a simple, cohesive service used by colleges (Yasar says 17 already use Koding) and companies to help students and employees just as much as they help independent learners.
Put another way: Koding hopes to make learning to code, developing programs, and communicating with a helpful community as easy as whistling for a cab. Why build the car on your own when you can have someone else do it for you — or, at least, help along the way?
[Image courtesy Ed McDonald]