Chris Maunder started The Code Project six years ago with the aim of creating a Web site for developers done right. Today this resource for Visual Studio users garners 1.7 million unique page views monthly.
Maunder, the Australian native who runs the site (www.codeproject.com), splitting his time between Canada and Australia, said he didn’t start his career as a developer. After gaining a degree in astrophysics, he worked as a research physicist in Australia doing numerical modeling.
When he moved to the U.S. in the late 1990s to pursue a PhD in geomorphology, he began doing some coding in MSC and C++, and began using a Web site, Code Guru, that had resources for developers. “I was teaching myself, and contributed back to the site a bit,” said Maunder. “I was contributing so many articles that the guy running it asked if I could run the day-to-day business.”
He took that task in 1997, and in 1999 he also began working as a contract programmer for Toronto’s Dundas Software. He jokes that his day job was writing software components to sell and his night job was running a site that gave them away.
When the Code Guru site was sold in July 1999, Maunder and Dundas Software owner David Cunningham decided to create their own developer Web resource, and The Code Project was launched that November. “(We thought,) ‘Let’s do it properly, the way it should be, and specifically for Visual Studio developers,’” said Maunder. “The other site was good but it didn’t really allow me to do the things I wanted to do.”
When he started out, Maunder said most development was done on expensive Unix and AIX boxes. The work was fun and interesting, but the tools weren’t sophisticated. He convinced the guys in the lab that their work could be done more quickly and efficiently on a PC, and the tool he gravitated towards was Visual Studio. “There was Delphi, which I’d dabbled with for a bit, but it just didn’t seem to have the power I wanted,” said Maunder.
Today, the Code Project has 2.3 million members globally, with over 10,000 technical articles available in its archives, as well as downloadable software and code snippets. Maunder said the Web site pays the bills though targeted advertising on the site and reselling some software.
“Say a developer needs help with solving a specific day-to-day problem,” said Maunder. “More than likely [we’ll have] an article that’s specifically about that problem.”
He said the site is a combination of free software people can use in their applications and knowledge-based tutorials on how to solve certain problems. A user forum is also available for posting specific questions to other members.
Josh Heyer said The Code Project has been a big help to him in his position as a developer for a heating, ventilation and air conditioning company in Wisconsin. He writes software to help the company’s sales staff and independent contractors in their sales tasks.
Heyer did coding as a hobby growing up and went to school for it, but he said that only goes so far. “You don’t run into anything close to the sort of problems and challenges you face once you start (developing) professionally,” said Heyer.
One of the early projects he needed help with was adding a feature to one of his firm’s sales applications that would display balloon tool tips. He found a few articles describing tools that were similar to what he needed, and by combining those general techniques, Heyer was able to build his own tool.
“In fact, I was able to compile the knowledge I gained from reading the various articles and post an article of my own once I’d finished detailing the completed solution,” said Heyer.
For developers today, Maunder said the biggest challenge is probably keeping up with the ever-changing technologies, and that’s an area The Code Project addresses.
“It’s funny, because everyone wants Microsoft to release their products faster,” said Maunder. “But when they do, some people are like, ‘Oh my god, I’ve got to throw (out) everything I’ve learned, how am I going to keep up?’”