The Advanced Software Design Course

Learn years of software intuition in weeks


Ned Nguyen, Staff Engineer, Google

Ned Nguyen

As a tech lead at Google, I have always been trying to improve my software design skills. I decided to sign up for Jimmy’s class after looking at the overview of its content.

Jimmy is a fantastic instructor. He spends a lot of time reviewing my homeworks & answering questions. The reading materials & exercises are top notch. Before Jimmy’s class, I had vague ideas of how to write code “the right way.” After this class, I have a lot more clarity in terms of writing good code and designing better software. I find myself better at articulating my design rationale, and having easier time aligning people’s opinions on difficult decisions. My colleagues also said they noticed my code reviews are a lot more objective and convincing.

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.

Azhar Desai, Software Engineer, Thinkst Canary

Azhar_DesaiThis course should be renamed “Jimmy’s Finishing School For Software Wizardry.”

Jimmy’s course has changed my day-to-day thinking about software design. It’s easier for me to reason and talk about how a line of code will hinder or help future code changes. I can motivate changes more clearly to others on my team when reviewing designs and code. The course replaced some unhelpful intuitions I had from several years of software engineering leaving a simpler, better fortified base. And did I mention how well-curated the course readings were? Unlike much writing on software design drifting about, these were rewarding to read closely.

Christian Vanderwall, Software Engineer, Spacebase

Profile photo for Christian VanderwallI loved this course! Thanks to working with Jimmy, I now have a much better framework for evaluating software design. My designs are cleaner, and I feel more confident that my design decisions will stand the test of time.I was also pleasantly surprised by the community Mirdin has created. All of my classmates were wonderful, and the Advanced Sofware Design Slack channel has become a great source of support, inspiration, and fun. I’m a solo developer, so I feel lucky to have found a group of like minded people I can discuss interesting problems with.

Andrew Edwards, Software Engineer, London

Andrew EdwardsThe Advanced Software Design course has transformed the way I work. After the first lectures, I quickly began to see where software I had written could be improved. By the end of the course I felt confident that I knew exactly how, and why, to improve it. Recently, I’ve been interviewing for new contracts, and the knowledge I now have has helped make it far easier to impress. In particular, interview code exercises are easier as I can more easily come up with, and discuss, a design first, a method which has really helped to express my level of knowledge without getting bogged down in code level problems.

I also feel that I now have a clear way to appraise and filter programming advice, something that’s invaluable in a fast moving industry. Thanks Jimmy!

Jess Smith, Software Engineer, New York City

Jess SmithThree great things happened because I took Jimmy’s course. First, I built a vocabulary for expressing my concerns about software design. This vocabulary, when applied to code smells, gives me related examples that can help generate specific failure modes.

Second, I learned how to tell what debates about software are worth engaging in. Some debates are just taste, and some have deep engineering implications. This has sped up my reading because I can filter out a lot of noise.

Third, I gained a sense of the larger world of software design. The course’s resources section has changed my views on design and software as a whole. I know that these articles will be a source of inspiration and knowledge for a long time to come.

Sarah, Senior Software Engineer

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%.

Josh Curtis, San Francisco

josh curtisJimmy’s course was superb. It gave me a set of tools that I found immediately helpful in articulating the drawbacks of certain decisions in the code base and data models I work with. Before, I only had vague feelings that something was off but had trouble saying exactly what or why. The concepts from the course continue to be useful whenever I’m writing code or reviewing a PR. Somewhat surprisingly, it increased the satisfaction of reading and writing code. Instead of writing a bunch of classes to implement feature X, I think of as many implementations as I can then try to think about the trade-offs between them all.

Steve Phillips, Software Engineer, San Francisco

Profile photo of Steve Phillips

Mirdin’s Advanced Software Design Course was fantastic.  I’ve found myself immediately applying what I learned, especially when it comes to preventing subtle dependencies between components.
It’s about time that software design evolve from a pile of opinions into a science.  Bravo, Jimmy, for taking us a huge leap in that direction!

Chris, Menlo Park

In one of my first sessions, Jimmy said he’d make my programming so methodical it’d almost seem boring.  I was wondering what he meant, and after many sessions, I now understand.  And far from being boring, it’s made me so much more productive and confident in my programming abilities.  I now review code for all sorts of issues (coupling, premature abstractions, poor data structures, etc.) in a very precise way, telling engineers exactly what would happen if they did or didn’t listen to what I have to say.  And in most cases, it’d turn out exactly like what I said.  Also, I have a much better understanding of the general structure of large programs that I’m able to navigate huge codebases much more efficiently than before.  Jimmy is really a godsend, and regardless of how good you think you already are, he’ll make you even better.

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.

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.

Become a better engineer

Write clean code with minimal risk of bugs

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

Explain in clear terms the reasoning behind why some piece of code 'feels better' than another

Join over 250 professional software engineers

Apply to the Advanced Software Design Course

I’m Jimmy Koppel, and, six 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 four months working together – and Ivy-League grads looking up to her after another four. Another was a brilliant startup founder with a CS degree and over five 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.

Stephen Balaban, CEO at Lambda Labs

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 is not a guarantee of success. It is a shortcut to understanding the deepest levels of software engineering.


What You'll Learn

Unit 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.

Unit 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.

Unit 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.

Unit 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.

Unit 5: 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.

Unit 6: 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.

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 webinars every other week for 6 total lectures. Each of the 6 units comes with additional readings and homework, with the last set of homeworks due two weeks after the last lecture.

The webinars will be held from 1100 to 1200 US Eastern Time. All webinars will be recorded; attendance is optional but strongly encouraged. There will be an interactive component.

Here’s that in several timezones:

LocationFirst lecture (lectures every two weeks, same time)
San Francisco
New York

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. Students typically report spending 5-8 hours a week on the homeworks, though we've heard reports as low as 2 hours/week and as high as 16 hours/week depending on experience.

Every attendee will also be offered two 30-minute one-on-one sessions with me.

Like everything, what you get out of this course is what you put into it. Every week comes with mandatory assignments, but there's several times more exercises for the truly dedicated.

I'm interested, what now ?

Glad the course has piqued your interest. Maybe you have more questions or want to get started immediately!

Whichever it is, let's start with a meet and greet where we can get to know each other a bit, answer any questions regarding the course, and see if we are a good fit for each other.

To move forward, fill in the form below, and we will set up a video call at a time that suits you.

See you soon!


Next course:
TBD; Register interest, and we will let you know

Register your interest in the course

    Act Now

    Since I started helping engineers years ago, I've been amazed at how many already-good engineers are still seeking to improve, and how few resources there are to help them at the higher levels. Even still, I can only offer 20 spots in this course, and several of them filled up before I had even announced this course publicly. The first time we ran this course, we got over 2 applications for each spot, so move fast.