Friday, May 6, 2011

Code School's Rails Best Practices Review

The guys at Envy Labs have created a really great new set of learning materials over at Code School.
I've been teaching some people Rails recently and sitting them down in front of Rails for Zombies really worked for them. The idea of mixing short screencasts with convenient practical exercises has been a great way of teaching and the web based format is really quite slick.

I wanted to try out some of their stuff myself so I went and bought their Rails Best Practices course. Honestly, the course was a little bit too easy for me, but it was something I wished had existed a couple of years ago when I was just picking up little Rails idioms here and there.  

Inside of this, the format of very dense screen-casts with quick practical excercises meant that the familiar stuff didn't really get in the way and bore me like a slower intro would have. Overall the full run through took less than two hours effort, while I know newer devs would probably find themselves skipping back and forth between the exercises and the videos.

While I knew most of it there were a few small things that for some reason I wasn't familiar with. The .presence method for example is a little thing that is easy to miss but has quickly made its way into my everyday coding after having seen it. The usage of delegate is something that I hadn't really been familiar with beforehand but now really like. A couple of other things were also new to me but don't seem so helpful, Memoizable and Nested Layouts come more under this heading.

The only drawback of the whole thing is the price really. If you're already confident that you've been reading widely on ruby then it might not be quite as worthwhile. But, I wish something like this had existed a few years ago when I was just starting to get deeper into rails. It would have saved me a lot of time. They're also giving away a free Peepcode screencast when you finish now which it a little nicer. There's no shortage of decent Peepcode videos that are worth purchasing after all.

The thing I'm most excited about is what they're going to do with this platform in the future. It really is a great system and something that I intend to get anyone I come across wanting to learn something to sit down in front of. I'm particularly looking forward to some frontend devs I know sitting down in front of their upcoming Jquery course.

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