Posts Tagged ‘ruby’

CodeSchool / Rails for Zombies impressions

March 23, 2011 2 comments

CodeSchool is a site designed to teach programming skills in an interactive fashion. I went through their free course offering, Rails for Zombies, yesterday and was thoroughly impressed with the offering.

Rails for zombies image

Rails for zombies image

The course consists of 5 sections, each introduced by an extremely well-produced video segment. At the end of the video there is an interactive lab in which you must successfully code solutions to questions covering what was just discussed in the video. For instance, in a section on Rails Routes, it might ask you how to add a global redirect from /all to the page /tweets.

Right now the site is very web development focused, but I’m looking forward to when they start having classes on other topics/languages.

I recently completed a course on School of Webcraft, and while the experience was a good one, it was nowhere nearly as nice as that of CodeSchool. In particular, the awarding of badges for having completed certain tasks is automated and instant on CodeSchool; in P2PU a human must manually acknowledge that you’ve completed all the requirements. In my case I’ve been waiting over a week for that recognition.

I highly recommend checking out CodeSchool, even if you don’t plan on paying for a course. The Rails for Zombies example is free and definitely worth the approximately two hours it took to complete.

P2PU – World of Webcraft

January 13, 2011 1 comment
P2PU (Peer 2 Peer University) is a “grassroots open education project that organizes learning outside of institutional walls and gives learners recognition for their achievements. ”  In particular, they are offering a series of free online classes for web development; you can see the full list at  Once you sign up for an account, you can apply to take part in any of the courses offered.  Due to the limited number of slots, you must complete some rudimentary tasks to prove that you are going to be involved in the class, in order to apply for admission. 

I signed up for the Javascript 101 course and was asked to watch a 30 minute introductory video, write a short blog post, and then write a simple javascript program that did some addition and displayed the result as an alert in the browser.  Pretty simple stuff, but it weeds out those who are not willing to do some work on their own and would just slow down the class.

I also applied for, and was accepted into, the Introduction to Ruby and Rails course.  Longtime readers of this blog might remember that I have dabbled in Rails before, and had an initially favorable impression.  But like any skill, you must use your knowledge or it quickly fades away.  I’m basically back to square one with Ruby/Rails due to not having used it in the past year, so I’m looking forward to the added impetus of a class to get me to learn it.

Given that the vast majority of my programming has been on desktop / mobile client applications, I am excited to learn some web programming languages and techniques.  Technology changes quickly, and I can all but guarantee my expertise in Java Swing is not going to count for much in a few years.

I’ll be sure to write about my impressions as I go through the course; in the meantime, I urge you to sign up for these courses before they fill up.