Big Nerd Ranch Clash of the Coders: How BNR smote the NDA

The Big Nerd Ranch has conducted iPhone development courses all the way back to the very beginning, when the App Store first launched in 2008. Doing so had its challenges.

At that time, Apple had imposed a nondisclosure agreement on all developers, with little indication if and when it would ever be lifted. As a registered developer, Big Nerd Ranch had to comply with Apple's rules.

Under the terms of this agreement, developers could not discuss details of the OS and the SDK -- a limitation that challenged any business based on development training.

BNR CEO Aaron Hillegass devised an insane, brilliant and counter-intuitive solution. Leveraging a little-known clause in the agreement, he conceived a way to make an end-run around the letter of the law while still holding classes.

He hired his students.

Each student signed an agreement promising to deliver one (1) line of code to Hillegass upon completion of a week of on-site consultation. In return, he paid each student a sum of $1 and spent that week teaching them the basics of iPhone development

As contractors, students were entitled to discuss project details with their employer, and he was able to freely instruct them.

At the end of the week, Hillegass issued certificates of completion... and paychecks.

Erica is reporting this week from Clash of the Coders, BNR's annual internal developer challenge.