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The CodeSandbox Podcast

Prototyping with Charlie Gerard

Apr 8, 2021

Welcome to The CodeSandbox Podcast with host Sara Vieira, a frontend developer at CodeSandbox. CodeSandbox is an online code editor that assists developers in creating projects and apps both quickly and collaboratively. In each episode, tune in to hear discussions with knowledgeable developers on everything from developer relations to project building, as we provide listeners with valuable insight to help improve their own technical and creative skills.

Today on The CodeSandbox Podcast, host Sara Vieira sits down with senior frontend developer at Netlify, public speaker, and author of Practical Machine Learning in JavaScript, Charlie Gerard. Recorded on International Women’s Day, Sara begins the interview by asking Charlie about how she initially got started in prototyping, a field that Charlie describes as traditionally being portrayed as “for the boys.” After taking a 12 week intensive boot camp course where Charlie quickly learned the basics of coding, there was no going back. She immediately fell in love with project creation and shares the story of the first app she ever made and how she went above and beyond to add special effects to a seemingly simple assignment. To this day, this app remains one of the most fun pieces Charlie feels she has ever created. Sara then inquires about Charlie’s creative process and where she derives her inspiration from. Charlie answers this question by outlining what her goal is every time she takes on a new idea. Rather than aiming for the app to be used by millions of people, Charlie asks herself, “Can I make this idea work and how?” Motivated by a fierce thirst for learning, if Charlie feels excited about an idea, she knows she’s on the right path and knows she’s completed the project when she’s able to answer her initial question. Above all, Charlie stresses that the work should not feel like work. If the idea feels forced or laborious, she knows the idea may not have much longevity to it if it doesn’t keep her interest.

The conversation then shifts to Charlie’s recent work in machine learning and other mind controlled applications where the technology is able to sense the user’s thoughts. In an effort to make machine learning accessible and understandable to JavaScript developers of all skill levels, Charlie has dedicated tireless time, effort, and energy into creating a book that uses inclusive and encouraging language. On the topic of tips for others, Sara and Charlie then discuss their experience having given TED Talks in the past. Charlie provides insight to listeners on everything from how to overcome the fear of public speaking, where to seek valuable feedback from an audience, and how to get started in the world of conferences and meetups. Charlie believes there are many benefits to hosting with CodeSandbox and there is no shortage of tips, insight, and action steps packed into today’s episode. To further connect with CodeSandbox and to keep up with their latest work, be sure to listen, share, subscribe, and shout us out on social media with the hashtag #csbpodcast!

Key Takeaways

00:10 - Host Sara Vieira introduces herself and gives background on CodeSandbox. 00:53 - What is prototyping and how it relates to product development. 01:08 - Sara introduces guest Charlie Gerard. 02:00 - How Charlie got started in prototyping. 02:56 - The first app Charlie ever made. 04:18 - Charlie’s process for project creation. 06:04 - Learning as motivation. 07:34 - The benefits of hosting on CodeSandbox. 08:47 - Machine learning and mind controlled applications. 10:39 - Tips for those looking to get into machine learning. 12:43 - Charlie and Sara’s experience with TED Talks. 13:55 - Tips for those looking to get started with TED Talks. 15:57 - Fear of public speaking and applying to conferences. 17:04 - Where you can further connect with Charlie Gerard.