New Year's Resolution update

Almost 2 months ago, to the day, I embarked on a personal journey to study and complete Michael Hartl’s Rails Tutorial. Today, I’m proud to say that I’ve finished the course and almost all the exercises. I’m just left with work from the final chapter. I may be jumping the gun a little here, but it’s only because I’m really excited about reaching this epic milestone. 

Rails Tutorial

I <3 Rails Tutorial!

I studied Economics in university and have had an on-again/off-again relationship with programming that has been an annoying speck in the back of my mind. Questions like “Should I try harder to finish that tutorial or am I better off just going to the gym?” arise unbidden to the mind. Therefore, to finish a Rails app is a great personal milestone, has banished a couple of doubts in my mind and calls for a little introspection and review.

Rails Tutorial is without a doubt a really good tutorial! It takes you through every step needed and has ‘just enough’ digressions to help you understand the role and importance of JavascriptYamlSass and many others in the creation of a web application. In that way, it is extremely comprehensive, and is a must-read if you want to be guided through the creation of your first web app.

However, I do have a minor pet peeve. I wish that Michael Hartl would revise the numbering system for his code snippets, for instance “Listing 7.16: Good basic tests for signing up users”, with more descriptive names like “Basic Signup Tests” when referencing the code snippet. Sometimes when a numerical reference to an earlier code listing pops up, I lose my train of thought if I stop right here and go back to find the relevant snippet.

General issues

I encountered a few general issues while going through the tutorial that are not flaws with the tutorial, just the way that my computer is set up.

There was one major headache with setup. PostgreSQL was a pain in the butt to install and configure. I tried installing it, wasn’t successful, and eventually ended up at Macports for installation. Sometimes it wasn’t clear if a particular operation had been performed successfully. The command line prompts weren’t always super helpful here. Maybe it was just me and my 3 year old Macbook, but luckily for me it ultimately worked. Differences between platforms were a minor gripe. I used a Linux machine and a Mac at different times for this project, and for growl notifications I had to comment out some gems in the Gemfile and put in a couple of lines depending on which platform I was using. Lack of an excellent search engine that recognizes symbols. Symbolhound was ok but not great at this. Google has by far the better search results, but you can’t actually type in the exact snippet of code that was causing problems. Google would just ignore most of the symbols.



For those who are thinking of starting down their own path to Programming Literacy, make sure that you have the following links copied, bookmarked or committed to memory: RailsTutorial on Getsatisfaction (no longer active but is an archive of info) Stack Overflow (THE best resource for programming questions on teh internets)

Good luck! I’m going to take a well-deserved break now and go look at cat photos or something.

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