Startup Adventures: 5 ways to start learning Ruby on Rails

I’m a huge proponent of coding as a life skill. Coding is the new maths. It’s the next science. It’s the language of the future. And it’s pretty amazing how governments all around the world are starting to recognise coding as the ‘literacy of the 21st century’ too.

Well, except for this guy, but he is clearly a tool.

Coding is empowering

Why learn to code? Well, have you had an idea for an app? And felt trapped because your ideas just keep staying ideas?

I’ve had hundreds of ideas. And the best thing about learning how to code, is that I can finally transform my ideas into beautiful functional web apps. I can build whatever I want, when I want, exactly how I want it. And that’s pretty cool.

Jadi… bagaimanakah saya boleh belajar koding?

So, every now and then, people ask, “hey WJ, how can I learn to be kickass coder like you?” (haha I paraphrase). Well, there are so many awesome ways to start learning, but here are my top 5 suggested resources for new coders to kickstart learning Ruby on Rails.

5 ways to learn Ruby on Rails

1. Join a bootcamp – say, Code Division (Josh didn’t pay me to say this but he very well could…)

I know I rave about it all the time, but Code Division was the best 9 weeks investment into coding I’ve ever made. Nothing beats an immersive, no nonsense coding experience where all you do is eat, sleep, dream code (see what I did there) . The learning experience is accelerated by pair programming (coding in pairs, so you’re learning new things from your partners, faster, smarter). And coding is always more enjoyable in a mildly competitive but intensely fun group environment. However, what’s best about a bootcamp like Code Division is the access to awesome mentors to guide you through the forest of code and logical mess when you’re stuck, so that life has meaning and the world is sunshine and butterflies again.

Cost: RM1,000 if you get the scholarship, 9 weeks of the best time of your life

2. Codecademy

The story behind Codecademy is pretty amazing and never fails to excite me. A product of Y-Combinator, Zach Sims and Ryan Bubinski’s initial ideas were rejected by Paul Graham multiple times before they pivoted to create Codecademy. Being so close to not having anything to show for Demo Day, they eventually, and accidentally, launched Codecademy 4 days before Demo Day, getting 250k users and $2.5m shortly after (read the Launch Pad for the full tale). ANYWAYS I DIGRESS. Codeacademy’s Ruby course is a must-do-Ruby-initiation course for beginners to at least familiarise yourself with the basic Ruby syntax before starting anything else. Do it again if you don’t get it the first time, and the forums are a great reference point if you get stuck.

Cost: Free, 9 hours estimated course time

3. Railscast

We all miss Ryan Bates and wonder if he is ever coming back to Railscast, but his existing library of over 400 screencast are great for beginners seeking snippets of step-by-step video tutorials on building RoR features. Although Ryan has been MIA, I honestly think his screencasts have a sense of timelessness to them – most of his older screencasts are still pretty applicable and great for learning the basics. Whether you’re looking to build features from scratch, or through using popular ruby gems, or incorporating third party services, railscast is a cool source to go to.

Cost: Free screencasts available, more available by subscription

4. Michael Hartl’s RoR Tutorial

The book is a legend. Take some of the sections with a pinch of salt (may not all be relevant), but it’s a great step-by-step tutorial with detailed explanations to help you build your first rails app, user model with signup/login features. What’s great is that the whole book is free to view online.

Cost: Free to view online

5. RailsGuide

If in doubt, always go back to the source! People tend to search for answers in the sea of stackoverflow but forget to go back to basics in the RailsGuide. RailsGuide is a good place to start learning comprehensively about the RoR framework – structure (MVC), rails asset pipeline, working with javascript on rails, the whole shebang. If the guide seems too overwhelming at first, try to get started by creating your first project here.

Cost: 100% open source and free

I always get excited when someone tells me they’ve started learning Ruby on Rails and are just excited as I am. Drop me a line and let me know how your RoR journey goes, I’d love to get geekily drunk on code!

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