Though Ruby on Rails may be hard for a newbie to learn it is not impossible to learn. I decided to create a list of useful resources that helped me (and a few others) make the transition from novice to pro. This list of tips and resources is as follows:
- First Learn HTML + CSS - Ruby on Rails is a web development framework which means in order to build rich applications with the framework you’re going to have to at least know HTML as a prerequisite. Also if you want your site to look halfway descent it would help to know how to style it. This is where CSS comes into play. A good resource to get started learning these two languages is Codecademy’s Web Fundamentals track.
- Become familiar with the Ruby Programming Language - The more comfortable you are with Ruby, the more you increase your ability to become a stronger Rails developer. Before diving into Rails, familiarize yourself with the Ruby programming language. A few good resources that I came across during my learning phase are Try Ruby, Ruby Monk and Codecademy’s Ruby track. If you’re like me and enjoy a good read a nice book that I highly recommend is How to Program by Chris Pine.
- Understand what Rails is - A solid and fun introduction to Rails is Rails for Zombies. This is a free Code School course that covers the basics of Ruby on Rails and is a good way to get an idea of how the Rails framework works. Another way to learn more about the architecture of and the philosophy behind the Rails Framework is to read and work through the “Getting Started" section of the official Ruby on Rails Guides.
- Read a book that covers the Rails framework - To take a deeper dive into Rails, a good book to go through is Michael Hartl’s Ruby on Rails Tutorial: Learn Web Development Rails (also available online for free). This book is awesome because Michael Hartl not only provides a solid introduction to Rails; but also covers test-driven development (you can read more about it here) using Rspec (a popular Ruby testing tool) and basic Twitter Bootstrap (a popular front-end framework). In this tutorial you’ll build a fully functional Twitter clone that you will deploy to Heroku. Code Crew is currently running a study group based on this book and you’re more than welcome to join us!
- Add some features to your sample app from the RoR tutorial - Now that you have a basic Twitter clone up and running you should now add more features to your application. For example, your Twitter clone can easily become an Instagram or Tumblr clone if you enable it to handle image uploads and post comments. A good site that details how to add cool features to your Rails app through 10 minute screencasts that you should definitely check out is Railscasts, which is maintained by Ryan Bates.
Until next time. Code long, code strong!
Jamal started learning how to code a little less than a year ago and currently works as a fullstack web developer at a startup in SoHo. When Jamal’s not helping people learn how to code through Code Crew sessions, you can find him blogging his inspirations or shooting street photography and short documentary films around the five boroughs. Say hello on Twitter, @jsogarro.