Introducing: James Koppel's Advanced Software Design Web Course

Learn To Build Great Software Like No One Else Can.

Do you want to level up as a software engineer?

Do you want to write clean code with minimal risk of bugs?

Do you want to be the person on your team who can explain why a design decision will save your team hundreds of hours, months or years down the road?

Then this may be the course for you.

I’m Jimmy Koppel, and two years ago, I set out to create a better way for people who could already code well to become masters of their craft. One of my first clients went from a major career setback right before we started, to competing offers from Google and Facebook after 4 months working together, and Ivy-League grads looking up to her after another 4. Another was a brilliant startup founder with a CS degree and over 5 years experience; after witnessing how our sessions improved his code’s modularity and architecture, he came out saying “I wish I had started working with Jimmy sooner.”

And now I want to help you. I’ve taken the intuitions that top engineers use to build robust and maintainable systems, and turned them into principles that can be taught and drilled much faster than learning by experience. Now I’ve streamlined this material, tested it on live audiences, and turned it into a course to help bring you to your dream skill level.

This course is not a replacement for hard work, and it’s not a guarantee of success. It is a shortcut to understanding the deepest levels of software engineering.

Advanced Software Design Web Course

Tuesdays, February 27th – April 3rd
Register Now

What You'll Learn

Week 1: The Hidden Layer of Logic

  • Why design is conceptually different from implementation, and what this means for building robust code.
  • How it’s possible for code that never fails to still contain a bug.
  • Understanding how code that looks simple may actually be complex, and how to avoid writing code likely to break in the future.
  • Hoare triples, a simple method of specification that lets you see complexity as concretely as the code itself.
  • Bonus topic: The defect/infection/failure model of bugs and what Hoare triples have to do with debugging by printouts.

Week 2: The Embedded Design Principle

  • Understanding that code can be mechanically derived from a design, and how this perspective de-mystifies system design.
  • Using the Embedded Design principle to better structure your code.
  • Understand the most general forms of couplings. Learn to to spot and eliminate hidden coupling, and prevent 10-minute tasks from becoming 100-hour tasks.

Week 3: The Representable/Valid Principle

  • Understanding how to partition the state space of code and reduce the possibility of failure
  • How to design data structures and APIs that cannot be misused.
  • How to design code that contains zero error-checking, but is less likely to fail than even the most defensively-written code.

Week 4: The Data Over Code Principle

  • Parnas’s 40 year-old “secret” of information hiding.
  • How to use information hiding to make your code more modular and easier to extend.
  • How organizing your program around data structures can make your code cleaner.
  • How an extreme application of this principle can help you understand systems 3x more quickly.

Week 5: Future-Proofing Code

  • Learning to spot and sequester the assumptions in individual lines of code.
  • Using the Liskov substitution principle to make your code compatible with future versions of itself.
  • Using the theory of subtyping to anticipate and avoid “complexity ratchets” that could make your code treacherous to modify in the future, and impossible to clean up.

Week 6: Algebraic Refactoring

  • Understanding sum and product types, and how common data structure patterns in most languages are just special cases of these two fundamental constructs.
  • How most common refactorings are special cases of a handful of rules.
  • How refactoring a program can be isomorphic to factoring polynomials in algebra.

More Than Just a Course

Education research shows lectures are not enough. I’m committed to your learning, and that’s why I’m making this more than just a course.

Access to my curated library of readings

I’ve gone through thousands of articles online and hundreds of academic papers to find the few with insights about the general art of software design. And when I couldn’t find anything that explained a topic well, I wrote my own. I’m giving you access to all of these.

Exercises and case studies

Between sessions, you’ll be given exercises to drill in the concepts and samples from large projects to critique, so you can apply your learnings to real-world software.

Personalized feedback

Rapid and targeted feedback is a general principle that can help you learn anything 3x faster. I read every submission and give individual comments so you can know you’re getting the material.

Two 30-minute 1-on-1 sessions with Coach James Koppel

That’s right, two 30-minute 1-on-1 sessions with ICF-certified coach James Koppel, one at the middle of the course, and one at the end. I’ll use my hundreds of hours of experience working 1-on-1 with professional engineers like you to help you be the best engineer you can be.

Is this course for me?

Are you a junior or mid-level software engineer who wants to build systems that take little effort to maintain, and where adding new features is a pleasure? Then this course may be the right thing to jump you to the next level?

This is not a beginner’s course. I designed it for engineers with at least one year of professional experience, and I’ll talk with you 1-on-1 before the course to make sure that it’s right for you.

If you already have a proven track record of designing systems so that it’s hard to make a mistake in the implementation, or if you routinely show teammates why their code will fail in a year, then you may find this course a nice way to put a more principled perspective on intuition you already have. You may also find the exercises too easy. But, in that case, you might be a great fit for my 1-on-1 coaching, where I’ll teach even more advanced material at the pace you desire.


We teach skills which are more fundamental than any particular language or framework. Still, all examples will be in C, Java, or Python, and you should be somewhat comfortable with the syntax of all three.

This is a course for professional software engineers. For homework, you will need to be able to understand code samples from open-source projects we give you to critique, and you will need to be able to reflect on code that you’ve worked with in the past.


The class will meet in weekly webinars for 6 weeks, starting Tuesday February 27th and ending Tuesday April 3rd. There will also be weekly readings and homework.

The webinars will be held Tuesday’s from 4 to 5 PM UTC. All webinars will be recorded; attendance is optional but strongly encouraged. There will be an interactive component.

Here’s that in several timezones:

  • San Francisco: 8 AM-9 AM
  • New York: 11 AM-12 PM
  • London: 4 PM-5 PM
  • Moscow: 7 PM-8 PM
  • India: 9:30 PM-10:30 PM

(Note: Daylight Savings Time may change some of these times.)

In homeworks, you will be asked to design programs, or critique an existing program, but not implement new programs. You will get personalized feedback on all assignments.

Every attendee will also be offered two 30-minute one-on-one sessions with me, after the 3-week mark and the 6-week mark.

Like everything, what you get out of this course is what you put into it. You should expect to spend 2-6 hours per week working on this course.

Ready to Join?

Here’s what will happen:

  1. Fill out this short application below
  2. I will contact you and we will talk over Skype
  3. After determining that you are a good fit for the course, you’ll be officially signed up.

See you in class!


Act Now

Since I started helping engineers two years ago, I’ve been amazed , and how few resources there are to help them at the higher levels. Even still, I can only offer 10 spots in this course, and several of them filled up before I had even announced this course publicly. Spots won’t stay open for long, and, since this is our first time teaching in a webinar format rather than in-person, this is the cheapest it will ever be.

What others say

Over the past 2 years, I’ve made a big difference in many people’s lives through my 1-on-1 coaching. My goal for this course is to help 100x more people in the same way.

Chase, Palo Alto

Jimmy has a wizardly knowledge around software design. There were several instances in which I asked him questions that I didn’t expect would have a nicely packaged answer, and he somehow was able to arrive at one. He’s able to take the ambiguity of how to “design a software system” and be very explicit and clear about how things should or shouldn’t be done, and the reasons behind them. There really isn’t another place or person I know of that’s able to teach software design as uniquely and effectively as Jimmy. I frequently see many of the topics I’ve learned come up in practice and now know what to do in those situations.

Sarah, Palo Alto

Jimmy took me from being that coder that people tolerated because of “potential” and taught me so much that I had Google and Facebook fighting over me, then had all the hottest teams at Facebook fighting over me.

Oh, and my salary increased 67%.

Stephen Balaban, CEO, Lambda Labs

Jimmy is an intelligent, patient, and deeply knowledgeable coach. His sessions have markedly improved my code’s architecture and modularity. In addition to becoming a better SWE, I’m now a better manager and coach to the other engineers on my team. I went into the program with over five years of software engineering experience and an undergraduate degree in Computer Science; I came out wishing that I had started working with Jimmy sooner. Simply put, if you want to become a more effective engineer, I highly recommend working with Jimmy.

Eve, New York City

As a self-taught programmer who works as a Product Manager and aspires to be a CTO, I wanted to grow my technical abilities so I could better contribute to my team. I decided to work with Jimmy because I wanted to accelerate my progress and become more capable at identifying good and bad software architecture patterns. Before we started working together, I was shy about participating in more technical work on my team and didn’t have a concrete growth trajectory planned out for myself. Since I started working with Jimmy, I’ve developed the confidence to participate in code reviews with my team and assist with various technical challenges. I have gained a better understanding of my strengths and weaknesses, and I am much more equipped to set realistic goals for my technical growth. My intuitive sense of how to write clean, effective code has been honed, and I can’t wait to continue learning from Jimmy.


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