How Did I Become A Ruby on Rails Developer

Every RoR developers has this story — here’s mine.

Have you ever heard of RoR? If you have a programming background, probably yes. If you’re not into the technical world of programming, probably no.

Yes, it stands for Ruby on Rails. It is the framework behind Github, Twitter and Basecamp to name a few. I didn’t know that before as well. Until…

The Discovery

Quora Lurking

“Curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning”
— William Arthur Ward

It all started in Quora. I remember one day of me — a Java developer, browsing through my Quora home page, stumbled upon this question. It made me wonder, what the heck is this framework? I did some googling and it made me more curious.

I then ask this question in Quora. I was amazed by Alistair Israel answer. It pulls the trigger for me to start learning Ruby on Rails.


The Learning Journey

Read, Watch, Code

“Any fool can know. The point is to understand.”
— Albert Einstein

What’s good with RoR is that, you can find tons of lessons online. Yes, trust me, do a google search of ‘Ruby on Rails tutorial’ — you will be overwhelmed with the results. The only problem here is where to start.

Everyone has a different learning style. Some maybe fond of reading books. Some maybe into video lessons or screencasts. Some maybe learn from hacking. For me, I did the combination of these. Here’s the summary of my journey:

Learn Ruby

I need to learn Ruby as it is the language behind Rails. The combination of simple Ruby lessons at tutorialspoint.com and the more detailed The Ruby Programming Language helped me get started. Solving some problems in Project Euler using the language served as my exercises. IRB (Interactive RuBy) helped me hack into it as well.

At this point my goal is to learn the general syntax and how OOP works in Ruby. I just want to get a good feel of it. It is easier to learn compare to Java — at least in my experience.

Learn Rails

Learning Rails is a bit overwhelming. It is a full stack web development framework. I didn’t find a single resource to get a good grasp of it. I had to learn from various resources — from YouTube, online courses and books.

Rails for Zombies gave me a good introduction of what the framework has to offer. It was fun and very interactive learning experience. No need to install Ruby and Rails on your machine — just learning. One caveat of this online course is that, it is meant for introduction. It wasn’t detailed enough.

I tried reading Agile Web Development with Rails and the famous Michael Hartl tutorial to dive into the nitty gritty of Rails. Unfortunately, these books didn’t work for me at this stage. They are too overwhelming for a Rails newbie or at least to me.

Finally, I found a great tutorial of Rails at Lynda.com. I’ve been using Lynda since college. I took their essential and beyond the basic course for Ruby on Rails. The instructor is really good and the lessons are detailed enough. It worked for my learning style.

Code

Armed with Ruby and Rails knowledge, I started working on a hobby project called OnQuiry. Me and my colleague originally started this project in Java. I spent a weekend to convert the project into Rails. This is my very first Ruby on Rails project. I was amazed by how fast I can do things. Less setup and more conventions are equal to more productive and happy developer.


Into the Ruby World

Welcome to Ruby and Rails

“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”
— Winston Churchill

At this point I’m ready to switch world. Coming from the Java land, I never thought of switching programming language at this short period of time. I’m not even sure if someone will hire me as a Rails developer given my lack of professional experience on the framework. I only had 3months of self study, a personal project and a Github account back then.

I started lurking around local job portals and saw a couple of posting for Rails Developer. There were not as many, and most of them requires one to two years of work experience on the framework. I thought I’m not qualified. One that catch my attention is the Rails Developer post from an Australian company which has their office here in the Philippines. I tried my luck and submitted my application. Long story short — I took the exam, had the interview with the CTO and they offer me the position.

That made me an official Ruby on Rails developer. I completely left the Java world, though not the knowledge it had taught me as a software developer. I’ve been coding in Ruby since then. And I’ve been learning a lot so far. This new world is awesome. I’m glad I switched.

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow.
Learn as if you were to live forever.”
— Mahatma Gandhi