Meet the world’s youngest software developer who has learned to ‘code’ – aged FOUR.
Anshi Perla became interested in coding after watching her parents work from home at the start of lockdown.
Mum Sri, 28, and dad Akhilesh, 35, are software developers and Anshi would watch their screens and ask if she could “play”.
Akhilesh taught her to use code to make pictures of her favourite cartoon characters – like Peppa Pig – appear when she input commands.
It’s the same technology used to send messages over Facebook or to check the weather on an app.
It only took her four days to master and now she can create her own Application Programming Interface (API).
API is software which allows two applications to talk to one another – in just over three minutes.
Akhilesh, from Barking, east London, said: “She’s really taken to it.
“She’d see us dragging different components to create programs, and was fascinated with the visual elements.
“Anshi wanted to get involved and when I would sit down in the morning to work she would come over and say ‘Daddy, daddy I want to play!’
“She was getting bored of her toys so I let her play around with the keyboard and the mouse first to see if she could actually use it.
“She managed to figure how a mouse worked straight away and was able to type in her name.
“It was the beginning of lockdown so we were thinking of creative ways to keep her occupied while working from home.
“I taught her how to open the software and went through each step.
“It took her about four days to learn all the steps and now she can complete it all in a few minutes.
“I uploaded different images of her favourite characters to keep it interesting for her.
“That way she continues to learn the skill and it’s still fun for her.
The coding she has mastered sees her doing the leg work – or the keystrokes – usually done by apps automatically, having been already programmed by a software engineer.
She can’t fully write and spell yet, so her dad wrote out the code, and dumped it on a file on the computer, for her to choose from.
First she had to learn how to use the mouse and keyboard, and then copy and paste, so she could use her dad’s pre-written code lines.
She uses this text to write code, copying and pasting the words, so that when she gives the app specific commands, she gets a chosen outcome – like a photo of her favourite cartoon character appearing on the screen.
It’s the same code that is used by a weather app, so that when a user searches for where they live, they get the weather for their area.
“It sounds complicated but an API is a software which lets two applications talk to one another,” he said.
“Each time you use an app like Facebook, send an instant message, or check the weather on your phone, you’re using an API.
“If you were working in a call centre and wanted to find out information on “Mark Smith”, you would type “Mark Smith” into a system, press enter and get all the details relating to that person.
“That’s essentially what she’s doing but with more simplistic input.
“What Anshi is doing is all the stuff that goes on in the background. That users don’t actually see.”
Anshi codes in a programme called Anypoint Studio, and to start she has to create a ‘New Project’, always naming it ‘Anshi’ – one of a few words she can type on the keyboard.
She then configures the code, makes a ‘request’ – writing the question or command end of the code – and then sets the response – a photo of her teddy, or TV character.
Now with the skill of coding under her belt, Anshi’s parents now hope she will develop an app before she starts primary school in September.
Akhilesh said: “She’s really enjoying coding and that’s the key thing for us.
“I think for other parents out there who want to teach their children coding, the key is to keep is visual.
“That way it keeps it exciting and fun for children.”
She’s now working on creating code which integrates two apps – and allows her to send selfies to friends using platforms like Whatsapp.
“Although she could just send the selfie to people on WhatsApp, she’ll be learning a different type of programming,” he said.