Using The Pragmatic Studio to Get Up to Speed with Ruby and Ruby on Rails

This is a completely unsolicited post; the good folks at The Pragmatic Studio have no idea that a random person on the Internet (me) plans to say nice things about them, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away (almost 15 years ago, and I was in California), I read The Pragmatic Programmer, as you do. I remember thinking something along the lines of “smart! useful! will probably keep this on my shelf for a long time!” And I did, and several years later I realized I had more than a few books from The Pragmatic Bookshelf, like The Agile Samurai, The Passionate Programmer, and Pragmatic Thinking and Learning, among others.

Clearly, there was an ethos there that resonated with me, but I didn’t think anything more about “the Pragmatic folks” until sometime in 2011 when I was reviewing training options for some employees and realized that “the Pragmatic folks” also run a very successful training company. A very good developer whom I managed at the time was an alumna of one of their in-person Ruby on Rails courses and spoke very highly of it. I made some inquiries and unfortunately that course was no longer offered, but I quickly realized that the Pragmatic folks were quietly offering top-notch online, self-paced courses in key development topics.

I say “quietly” not because they’re a secret, but because they, like many training companies, are drowned out by the massive number of “learn to code” initiatives that garner all the press and VC funding. Let’s face it: “ongoing developer training” isn’t as sexy as “everyone learn to code!!!1111”..but guess what? Already-practicing developers need to learn new skills and upgrade their old ones, too, and the same pedagogical structures that should exist when teaching absolute neophytes are just as valuable (and crucial) when teaching the already-initiated.

Needless to say, when I evaluate training opportunities for staff, I look really carefully at the offerings. When I see a training company use phrases like “We think the best software developers have a lot in common with artists” and “We believe that learning a new skill or language or tool is good, but being able to actually apply that new skill to a real-world need is far more gratifying,” well, I’m pretty much sold right there. Thoughts that go through my head include: Where’s my credit card? How can I give you all of my money so that you can help me fill in the gaps for some of my staff? Really, would you like this bar of gold just because you’re that awesome?

You guys, The Pragmatic Studio offers really good online self-paced courses in Ruby and Ruby on Rails. Really good. Also, really affordable; yes, I consider $179 for a rich, lengthy, online, well-structured, self-paced course to be really affordable (YMMV), and so do the companies I’ve worked for when I’ve requested funds for staff training. Perhaps not so affordable for the poor humanities (or other) graduate student—of which I personally know there are many who would like to learn some solid Ruby skills—but if you are one of those people and you really want to learn Ruby or Ruby on Rails, find a way to take this course. Find a grant, consider it a good expense to put on your credit card, whatever. There’s also an academic discount, so take advantage of it.

Ways I’ve used the courses include:

  • introducing QA testers to Ruby and Ruby on Rails programming, enabling them to switch to a full developer path, or to start looking at code much like a software engineer in test might, or to enhance their skills to create better test plans for Rails-based applications.
  • enabling developers with skills in a different primary language learn to apply their general computer science and programming knowledge to a different language so as to continue with a company going through an application replatforming process.
  • as a replacement for my own in-person small group training; I recently said to a client that having each member of the small group take the Ruby Programming and two Ruby on Rails courses from Pragmatic Studios would be significantly cheaper as well as (and primarily) a significantly richer learning experience than I could offer in a shorter, in-person workshop setting.

I also nudged my partner to use The Pragmatic Studio’s Ruby Programming course to help her automate some of her tasks in her own job, with which she has been very successful. She, like many people I am sure, is looking forward to the Advanced Ruby Programming course being offered online—there are plenty of people who use Ruby without Rails, or who want advanced Ruby skills so as to do advanced awesome things with Rails.

So, there’s my gushing post about The Pragmatic Studio, which tells you absolutely nothing about the courses themselves except they get my A+ thumbs up seal of approval. Go test drive the courses: here’s a link to the tour of that basic Ruby course. Have fun and learn stuff!

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3 Comments on “Using The Pragmatic Studio to Get Up to Speed with Ruby and Ruby on Rails

  1. As the nudged partner, I fully endorse this message! The Ruby Programming course was great. You might wonder, “how is writing a text-adventure game going to help me do my job?” Well, building on the fundamentals learned in the course (with a little help from Stack Exchange and Scholars’ Lab), I routinely use Ruby to convert between XML and CSV, batch download password-protected files from Internet Archive, calculate map coordinates, generate random samples in seconds, and more. I use it at least 3 days a week, even if it’s occasionally just a quick command through the Interactive Ruby Shell. <3 Ruby and <3 the Pragmatic Studio.

    (also <3 jcmeloni, of course!)

  2. i agree with OP’s article. for me, easily one of the best investments i’ve ever made in my life. $150 and you can save yourself a lot of grief, hassle angst. The course does have its downsides: you might at times get lost if you are a total beginner – discussions about the MVC structure will definitely confuse the noob but overall a very, very good course, which will give you the basic grounding required. It is brief while at the same time, it is quite complete. the Clarkes do not support you very well via – with any confusing points in their course, but i don’t blame them. you won’t become a master, but it’s a great place to start note. this review was completely unsolicited and i DO NOT get royalties from giving it. summary: Overall a GREAT course, one of the best out there at the moment. Michael Hartl is also very good, but IMO he’s more advanced.

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