your daily code for breakfast

Spotlight 81: Introducing you to Tracy Osborn!

Happy Friday everyone! I hope you’ve had a wonderful week and that you’ll have a great weekend. This weekend my & my friends will run the 3rd edition of Rails Girls Amsterdam. Well, to be honest, I’ve been so swamped that I didn’t do a lot of organizing this time (sorry Hester & Martina)..but..I’m looking forward to a weekend with the Ruby & Rails community and meeting a lot of new people :-) Back to today’s Spotlight: this week we’re going to meet Tracy Osborn, designer, developer, ‘entrepenerd’, author of HelloWebApp ánd creator of WeddingLovely. Yes, that’s quite an impressive list and I’m very excited that she wants to share her story with you today! Enjoy reading!


Name: Tracy Osborn
Job: Self-employed entreprenerd.
Favorite website, app or gadget: Google Docs
Favorite book: It’s dorky, but Princess Bride. If you have only seen the movie, then you’re in for a treat — the book is even better. My cat is even named Westley.
Twitter: @limedaring


What inspired you to pursue a career in IT?
 I grew up in a very rural area and was lucky to have several family members who worked in tech, so I had a computer very early on (era of the 8″ floppies!) When the internet started to be a thing, I started messing around with websites. I almost left tech after hating computer science in university (I ended up with an Art degree) but I kept building websites and eventually taught myself Python to launch a startup.


What does your working day look like?
 I work from home so thankfully every day is a little bit different! Generally, I get up around 7am before my husband, and I make myself a cup of coffee and do emails (with a cat on my lap) until he wakes up. We’ll either make breakfast or go out, and then I work either at home or at a coffee shop until the mid-afternoon, when I start getting a little tired of working. At this point I’ll usually go to yoga, or do some painting, or something else “non-techy” before dinner, and then either TV or more work after dinner.


What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
 Writing and self-publishing a book ( is the best thing I’ve ever worked on. It’s such a fun and fulfilling project — I made something that helps people out, and it makes me money so I can continue to work from home. The worst part about working for yourself is worrying about money constantly, and the success of Hello Web App has been great for my career and has allowed me to continue working for myself on things I enjoy.


Do you have a hero, or someone who inspires you?
 Elon Musk is a huge inspiration — he’s doing such great work in areas I’m interested in (space exploration *and* renewable energy *and* electric cars!)
My husband, Andrey Petrov,  has also been a huge influence in my life. He did a startup, so I wanted to do a startup, he helped teach me Python, he’s very smart and helps me out with everything techy. I’m glad to have him in my life — I probably wouldn’t be here without him!


Why do you love working in  IT/Tech?
 I love being able to work from anywhere! I can take my laptop and go on long trips — since my husband pretty much does the same as me, we can rent our place and then work remotely for months at a time. We’ve taken three 2-3 month trips in Europe so far.


Do you have a degree in IT? If so, what taught you the most? And if not, did you miss some important knowledge?
Nope, I quit CSC and got an Art & Design degree!
I hate the idea that every person has to have the same tech knowledge when working in tech. I certainly missed out on some essential computer science essentials by not finishing my degree, but I know more about startups and entrepreneurship and that’s truly what I’m interested in. I love programming but have no interest in theory, and I hope to help spread the gospel that there isn’t only one thing you can do if you’re interested in IT. :)


What would be your advice to everyone who is interested in a career in tech? (or learning to code)
 Related to the above — don’t feel like you have to become an engineer! You can learn how to code and use that work in tech as a copywriter, or build a startup, or just a fun side project, or become a project manager, or become an engineer. I know a lot of people get intimidated by the amount of information they feel they need when they learn to code, but there are so many things you can do when you know how to code, not just go into a back-end engineering position. :)


Could you tell us a bit more about your book? :)
Haha, which one? :) Hello Web App ( is actually two books teaching web app development using Python and Django. My goal was to help folks who are interested in coding with no coding background get to that “success moment” quickly — so the books are a straightforward tutorial that glosses over theory and the “how” behind things… and my goal is to show how easy it is to build a basic web app and then folks can learn the theory and best-practices after.


I’m working on Hello Web Design ( now. I loved teaching basic programming ideas, so I decided to work a bit on the other side of the equation and teach basic design skills. Same thing as Hello Web App — I’m going to gloss over a lot of theory and best-practices and teach more shortcuts and guidelines. After all, there are a *lot* of theory books already! I’m fundraising for it now on Kickstarter:


Extra question from Meri: What discovery (tech or process or tool) has made the biggest difference to you personally?
 I’ve started a Google Doc I call “Daily Goals” where, at the top, I have a list of all my major goals I want to accomplish (like “become a leader in tech” and “launch Hello Web Design”) and a place below where I can write what I want to accomplish that day. Reviewing that in the mornings keeps me more on track.


Tracy almost reached her fundraising goal at KickStarter for her new book ‘Hello Web Design: Design Basics for Non-Designers’! It would be great if you could give her project some love :-)