I attended my first Railsbridge this weekend. Rails is a framework for Ruby that allows a developer to build web applications. Twitter was originally built on Rails. Living Social and Groupon are also built on Rails. I’d learned some Ruby, but never worked with Rails. Railsbridge is a 2-day event where more experienced Rails developers invite novice Rails developers to walk with them through a curriculum that introduces the Ruby programming language and the Rails framework. The first day involves an “installfest” where the students (with the help of the instructors and TA’s) actually get Ruby and Rails installed on their machines. The second day is dedicated to learning Ruby (if it’s new to you) and building actual Rails apps. Even after just completing the “Installfest,” Railsbridge proved to be totally worth my time. I love that there were volunteers on hand every single time I got stuck that were able to help me out. There were things I’ve been stuck on since last August, the last time I did any work with Ruby, that I was finally able to resolve. It was fun to watch the TA’s work together to solve tough issues.
By the end of day two, I’d actually built a real live Rails app. I don’t totally know how I did it, but that’s how it is in the beginning with code. In the beginning, you’re just doing things that somehow work. It’s after you do them a few times that you begin to understand why they work. I know I’ll get there with Rails too. I’m excited to work through the Intro to Rails curriculum a second time to gain a more solid understanding of how my app actually came together.
I think my biggest takeaways were: 1)a much better understanding of all of the different components one needs to build a Rails app and 2) a fuller understanding of how to work work with all of those elements (the terminal, the browser, the text editor, the server & git & Heroku) all at the same time.
Would I recommend attending a Railsbridge event? Absolutely. The TA to student ratio was amazing. Whenever I was stuck (which was more often than I’d like to admit) I never had to wait more than a minute to get help from someone who knew more than I did. It’s also always so rewarding to hang out with other women in my local tech community. There is always so much encouragement passed from one person to the next.
Here’s my first project. It’s the “Job Board” app from the Railsbridge curriculum. It isn’t pretty, but it works. Hopefully, I’ll be able to find some time to update the CSS to make it look a little nicer.