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Review: Learn Rails with Codecademy

I’ve been waiting for a long time for Codecademy to come up with a Rails course. So I got quite excited when I read about their new Rails tutorial. I immediately participated and will share my thoughts with you.

Summary
I completed Codecademy’s course on Rails in about 5 hours. Yes, it’s quite short. The course is broken up into 5 units.  The first four units consist of a part with exercises to teach you things about Rails and a part ‘do it yourself / challenge’. The last unit, unit 5, offers two projects where you need to work on yourself. The challenges and projects collectively go over what you’ve already covered in your previous lessons.

The course guides you through the basics of Rails and making a new application with Rails. MVC, routing, migrations, databases, associations are all well-explained.

You don’t need to install Rails on your PC and you don’t have to work with an IDE or some other text editor. Everything works in your browser.  Your screen is divided into 3 parts:  on your left: tips and tricks and exercises, in the middle your ‘terminal’  and the repository and on the right, the webpage you’re creating (see image).

Pros

  • The course is very well-organized. It’s well-written, clear and easy to follow.
  • It’s a nice course for when you’re new to programmingg, although some knowledge of Ruby may come in handy.
  • I really liked the fact that you immediately learn how to debug. You needed to actually write and mess with code to move on.
  • When you have a typo or a bug, you’ll get the same errors as when you really are coding Rails (through terminal etc).
  • The Q&A forum is really helpful.  You can ask all your questions about your code or the error message you received. There are many people who ran into the same problem. You learn a lot from their explanations and from talking about your code with others.
  •  The course may be short, but it’s very comprehensive. In the last unit you really have to do-it-yourself. You have to build a portfolio. And you have to use HTML & CSS for the front-end, Rails for the back-end, Git to manage your code, Heroku to deploy your app and GitHub to share your code with others.

Cons

  • I don’t know if it depends on the browser that you’re using (I used Chrome). But sometimes it was very very very slow. It took some time to load the exercises or just to type some code. This resulted in me making more typo’s than usual ;)
  • If you’re totally new to coding, then some debugging can be tricky. Once I had a typo when generating a controller. I called it ‘MEsagges’ instead of ‘messages’. Codecademy told me I’ve failed the exercise and needed to try again, but the controller was still generated. So I ended up having two controllers instead of 1. I know how to fix that, but it can be confusing.
  •  Some units were harder to follow than others. I’ve had some trouble understanding some exercises in Unit 4 (Associations I) when it came to add something to the view. It wasn’t quite clear what was expected. Maybe this is also a multi-author course, like the Python one.

Conclusion
Overall, I would recommend this Rails course for people who want to get a basic handle on building web applications. While Codecademy won’t train you to become a pro coder, it’s good for learning the basic skills .You can always start at Codecademy for free and then switch to more advanced training when you’re ready. But of course, the best way to find out if Codecademy is for you is to try it out for yourself.

If you also tried the Codecademy course on Rails, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to comment and to share your experiences.

Enjoy coding!

  • Hi Lieke!

    Thanks so much for the feedback! I’m glad to hear you enjoyed our course, and we always appreciate folks letting us know what we can do better. Please feel free to reach out to me on Twitter at @margotcodes! I’d love to hear more from you.

    Margot Mazur
    Community Manager
    Codecademy