5 Things I Learned in 25 Days

I’ve been studying back-end web development with Launch School for the past 3 and a half weeks. I joined on January 16th, so this is day 25. The most important things I learned so far, and wish I had learned earlier are:

1) Learning by doing: It’s a lot more interesting and motivating. What I’ve done so far, a loan calculator, a tic tac toe game etc. are pretty simple. But that’s what I can do at this stage, and my mind was completely absorbed in what I was doing while I was working on them. That in turn has made it possible for me to increase the amount of time I spend studying. When I was studying by myself, before Launch School, I did try to incorporate this aspect by writing simple programs. But now I realize I didn’t do it nearly enough. The ratio between time spent coding, debugging code, refining code, to time spent reading programming books, tutorials, etc. should be around 80/20, or even 90/10.

2) Pry: It makes debugging much easier.

3) Rubocop: Makes it much much easier to create readable code. It does a great job enforcing the ruby style guide.

4) Structure: It frees your mind to focus on what’s important. Prior to launch school, I had to constantly make decisions on what I’ll learn next. Deciding what to study was a process in itself. I’m now freed of the need to think about that. Do an assignment, mark it as complete, and move on to the next assignment. I can focus completely on the actual learning and not worry about the deciding what to learn next loop.

5) Feedback: It can speed up learning. When doing programming assignments, I spent lots of time on them, and then spent twice as much time debugging them and refining them for readability. Nevertheless, the TAs were still able to point out many shortcomings and errors through which I was able to learn a lot. Looking back, I should have spent a lot more time reading code reviews that were provided to other students. I’ll do that going forward.

I just completed all the assignments of the first course, 101 Programming Foundations. I still have to complete most of the practice exercises, before facing the assessment. Maybe next week…