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Diving Into Ruby on Rails

Up until this point in my career I’ve pretty much stuck to the front end of web development. This was a conscious decision when I first started out. I knew that there were two distinct paths you could follow: the front end or the back end, and both have always appealed to me.

Ultimately, I went with the front end because of the immediate satisfaction I got when I created a style and watched it suddenly appear on a page. This is possible in the back end too of course, but that side always contained ‘THE DATABASE’, which seemed so inaccessible when I was first learning web development. “Thar be Dragons in there. Don’t touch it”, I told myself.

So the front end is where I focused my attention. CSS(Sass), HTML, JavaScript and a few CMS’s. There’s plenty there alone to keep you learning for a lifetime, especially JavaScript. Along the way though I’ve dabbled in getting to know some back end technologies. Plenty of PHP meetups (and even a PHP conference) and a few courses on Ruby.

Ahhh…Ruby. Every time I ran across that nice, clean syntax I told myself “I’m going to learn Rails someday”.


Luckily, at my job we work on a few Rails apps, so I get to play around a bit. I mostly I stick to the ‘views’ folder (again, there’s Dragons in the other folders). My co-worker, Clinton, is a master of the back end technologies. He knows his way backwards and forwards through Rails, so I tend to ask a lot of questions and he’s always willing to answer them for me. Slowly, four Rails apps are becoming my responsibility, and we have another that’s about to go into development. I recognized right away that now is my opportunity to finally dive into Rails. Score. I’m ready.

On the advice of the entire internet, I picked up Ruby On Rails Tutorial by Michael Hartl and started from the beginning. I’ve just wrapped up Chapter 1, which gets a surprisingly lot done in a single chapter. I’ve created an app, put it into version control, and deployed it to the web. It does absolutely nothing (you can find it here), but it lays the ground work for what’s to come. More specifically, it lays the groundwork of learning “the right way” to develop by using a combo of version control and test driven development.

I’m extremely excited to get going through the rest of the book and getting more involved with the apps we have at work. To use a video game analogy, the fog of the war is beginning to dissipate and there’s no better feeling. There’s far less Dragons than I anticipated.


Learning a new language/framework is always exciting. I’ll update here as I go along. The book should take me about 4-6 weeks to get through, and in the end I hope I can call myself a novice Rails developer. The work that’s coming up for me at my job should help me become well aquatinted before too long as well. Maybe turning me into a full-fledged Rails developer eventually.

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