On Learning Code

As we gear up for Prism development proper, I have been trying to get up to speed with some coding basics so that I can hit the ground running. Here are the learning aids that I have found most useful over the past couple weeks. Nearly all of these materials can be found in the Praxis Program’s scratchpad.

Ruby

Learn Ruby the Hard Way – I enjoyed the learning approach here: the site displays a chunk of code that you type out, fix, and then examine more closely. It might seem like working backwards, but it works well for people who learn by doing.

Ruby Warrior – Learn Ruby by programming your own video game! There is nothing quite like tricking your brain to work. Each new level presents a problem that you must solve by changing a Ruby file. This one is great for learning the syntax, but it will only go so far in teaching the methods available to you in Ruby. You’ll be doing a lot of methods unique to the game, and I doubt that warrior.walk!(:backward) will come up in normal situations. Syntax is all, though.

Rails

Michael Hartl’s Ruby on Rails Tutorial – Hartl walks you through building an application step by step via a Rails scaffolding. They are quite thorough and easy to follow.

RailsCasts – These very short video tutorials walk you through Ruby on Rails concepts with screencasts and commentary.

JavaScript

Code Academy – I’ve been using Code Academy for JavaScript, but they also have HTML, Ruby, Python, and several other coding tracks. There are a wealth of resources here arranged in interactive exercises, and the site also has lots of extra opportunities for practice once you finish the main courses. It also gives out points and badges as you code for added incentive!

Brandon is a 2012-2013 Praxis Fellow and a Ph.D. student in the Department of English. His research focuses on modern and contemporary fiction, especially on Anglophone modernisms and the novel in relation to sound studies and musicology.

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