Want to know what it’s really like to learn Ruby on Rails?
Perhaps you’re new to programming and looking to learn a beginner-friendly language. Or maybe you know you’d like to learn Ruby on Rails, but you aren’t sure about the commitment it will take. One of our Ruby on Rails instructors, Jesse Wolgamott, recently gave us a bit of insight into what it’s really like to learn Ruby on Rails, and why it’s a language you should consider. (Update: Read more about our new curriculum changes and language focus here.)
“Clean code is simple and direct. Clean code reads like well-written prose.” – Grady Booch, author of Object Oriented Analysis and Design with Applications
Why should beginners learn Ruby on Rails?
When I hear from people who are comparing programming languages for the first time, they have this impression that reading code should be difficult, frustrating, and not fun. They think it should be hard to read and hard to execute. But often when they read Ruby, they find it reads almost like English prose – it does what you expect it to do. This quote by Grady Booch explains it well. To me, there are no better programming languages that follow this philosophy. When you read Ruby, you understand it. The code says what it should do and doesn’t let symbols and other ceremony get in your way.
How did you get into teaching Ruby?
Before I started as a Ruby on Rails instructor at The Iron Yard, I taught a course called Ruby Off Rails that I started in 2012. I taught the course for two years. It was hosted online but we had a mentorship component as well. One of the most important aspects was reviewing beginner’s code and being able to say, “Oh, did you know you could do THIS?!” and I’d show them a way to condense Ruby into clean code that reads like well-written prose. My first class at The Iron Yard was in May 2014, and since then I’ve taught nearly 100 programmers.
Ruby was not the first language I learned. I actually did a lot of .NET programming before I was able to learn Ruby on Rails. I remember fighting against some of the conventions in .NET — I was productive and could build systems, but I was not enjoying programming, When I came to Ruby it seemed like, “this is what I was looking for.” It was like that scene in the Matrix when Neo takes the red pill. Ruby has opened me to a community of people that were dedicated to making the world better, to making it more inclusive, to making it more diverse, and to generally helping and being nice to everyone.
Is the community really important for someone who wants to learn Ruby on Rails?
The Ruby community is the nicest, most helpful, most forward-thinking and inclusive community that I’ve ever been part of. We give awards to people based on how helpful they are, not how great of a programmer they are. That selflessness is a defining asset of Ruby on Rails. The entire idea behind it is that developers should be happy when developing software. Too many developers spend their lives unhappy. People from all walks of life are learning Ruby on Rails, so it’s really helpful to have is a community where people are welcoming and want to be helpful.
What is the story behind Ruby on Rails? And where is it headed?
Ruby has had a very unique history. It’s an accepted and well-used language by both startups and enterprises, plus by anyone just writing code on their own. It can help someone launch a business, it can help a software developer get stuff done, and it can be used to run huge billion-dollar companies. It has reached levels that I never thought we’d see. People just love it.
In terms of where it’s going in the future as a language, it will continue to be a preferred choice for companies to both prototype software and web applications. Plus, it will continue to be an excellent language to help beginners learn how to program.
What jobs are available for those who want to learn Ruby on Rails to begin their programming careers?
In my experience, there are three primary job tracks that I’ve seen graduates take. One is to go the freelancing route. Generally, these are people who came into programming as entrepreneurs and want to continue to either build an existing business or join a startup. Learning Ruby is a great choice for them because you can build something quickly, host it cheaply, your costs are very low, and the community sort of rallies behind it.
Another option I’ve seen often is for junior developers who’ve learned Ruby on Rails to be hired by software agencies. So many agencies use Rails it’s able to get an application up, to get it deployed, keep costs down, and able to be productive, to build out for their clients.
Then I also see people join organizations and companies as software developers who can take requirements and turn them into working software. There are also tons of grads who have accepted jobs that focus on other programming languages, which is the beauty of our philosophy and our curriculum at The Iron Yard. We really do help our students learn how to learn so they can pick up other programming languages because they already have a great foundational understanding of programming.
Want to know more about our Web Development Career Path course and Ruby on Rails language focus? Click here.