TO A VAST majority of adults, writing code seems complicated, too complicated in fact. But there’s a growing number of children who are picking it up in the same way previous generations learned how to hula a hula-hoop or master the game of kerbs.
In the small village of Killenard in Laois, a young boy has become Europe’s youngest Android app developer at just 11-years-old.
And Caolan Fleming is self-taught. His father Seán openly admits that his knowledge of computers “isn’t that great” and that his son’s interest in programming came about by chance two years ago.
Caolan himself tells TheJournal.ie, “I was nine when I started on a thing called Python. I drew my own pictures using Paint.” He add that he means “Paint on the computer, not actual Paint”, just in case he’s talking to a 105-year-old.
“When I first started, I got this book and I read that to teach myself. YouTube helped me as well,” he added. Since then, he has moved onto Adobe CS6 and Newgrounds.
The Sixth Class pupil has already completed three apps, which are available for download on Google Play and have been viewed about 3,000 times.
The first one is called 4Path and it asks players to bring ‘a smiley’ to its yellow food by swiping the screen. Caolan claims it is “not that good but it’s the first one I ever made”.
His second, Whack Niall, is a basic ‘whack-a-mole’ game where the target is One Direction’s Niall Horan. To win, users must hit the young crooner 10 times before the timer runs down.
Happy Jump is his third app and it is his best offering, according to the young developer. “It is addictive,” he tells us.
Determined to be the next-big-thing in Android circles, Caolan is already started work on his next game. It will be called Balldodger and will involve controlling the player by tilting the device.
All of this work isn’t achieved by spending all of his time locked away on a computer though. The eldest of four boys in the Fleming household, the student spends just one hour a night on the Internet.
Dad Seán says his boy “hasn’t quite made up his mind yet” about what he wants to do in the future but he’s sure computers will feature in there somewhere. For the moment, he’s content with being one of the youngest app developers in the world and keeping up-to-date on what his peers, such as Waterford’s Jordon Casey, are up to.
He has also upped his ‘online cred’ by being kicked out of a site for being underage. Have we just met the new Linus Torvalds? The next Mark Zuckerberg?