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Rails, stuck on the tracks


I have put much thought into this post, now that is not to say that the other posts were created without any thought.

I am what I consider to be as a self taught programmer.  A couple of years ago I decided to learn Python as I was working with ArcGIS on a regular basis and I wanted to automate some of the functions that I did on a regular basis.  That summer I studied and taught myself Python at least the part for creating geoprocessing scripts.  Before this I had no desire to learning programming let alone programming itself.  Soon I had found that it was fun to program.  I then created user interfaces to pass data between our application that ran on ESRi’s ArcGIS and our clients and third party softwares.  I was hooked.

The company that I worked for then began to create a web based routing application that was written using Ruby on Rails.  I started to dabble with this application as I already had a pretty good grip on HTML and CSS.  It was fun designing and developing this application and helping create it from the ground up.  I started to learn Ruby on Rails.

Not to insult those that created the initial application or those that have made it what it is but as I now know that the application is horrible.  As I was trying to learn RoR, I would ask the developer questions about Ruby.  I will never forget the comment that this well known Rails developer told me; “I really do not know Ruby that well.”

So going forward, I assumed that learning Ruby was not that important to be a Rails developer.  On the outside looking in or scraping the surface it truly is mostly HTML or as I have learned to love, HAML.  I didn’t spend much time learning Ruby as the ‘expert’ Rails developer said he didn’t know Ruby that well so why should I?

So off to the tutorial I went.  I was and am amazed at the amount of learning tools and tutorials that are out there for learning RoR be it free or paid stuff.  I originally looked at Django as I was coming from Python but I did not find as much material for learning Django as I did for RoR.

Blogs, To do’s, pretend stores…..

I spent quite a while going thru many of the available Rails tutorials that are available out there from Michael Hartl’s tutorial to creating pretend stores to Rick Rolling it, I went thru the tutorials.  Over and over like a sponge I went thru these tutorials.  Rails for Zombies, and Peepcode and anything that I could get my hands on, I did tutorials.

But then, I found myself stuck on the Rails tracks not sure where I was going or how to get there.  I knew how to follow the step by step instructions but how was I to advance?  I tried to think of an application that I could create and tried to create that application.  I had no clue what the Hell I was doing and got really frustrated.

It hit me; Rails, now what?  What do I do now?  What is the next step to becoming that super ninja Rails developer?  Now what?

We have all been there.  It seems that most of the RoR people I know are ‘self taught’ with some having formal education for programming.  How do I make it from making applications using tutorials to becoming that full fledged Rails developer?

That is in my opinion the missing link.  As I have brought aboard my 3rd Rails intern I have seen that they are most of the time in the same situation as I once was, asking themselves ‘now what’?

Well, I am happy to announce that Rebel Outpost is going to be adding a ‘learning section’ to our website and we are going to be adding videos for a “Rails, now what?” screencast series.

I will be adding a list of topics soon as well as our first screencast “BDD and the User Story” to include the presentation slides.  These videos will hopefully help others in the ‘missing link’ stage of their Rails training.

I will be blogging about the videos as we release them and if there are any topics that those of you feel should be included, by all means, email me your suggestions.

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