Earlier this week, I wrote about why existing programmers should learn Ruby on Rails, however this wonderful technology is also great for aspiring programmers. Ruby on Rails is a web framework (software that helps you create websites) that is increasing in popularity and allows you to build websites and web applications in an easy and enjoyable way. Not only is programming in Ruby on Rails fun, but through training and practice, aspiring programmers can learn one of the most highly sought after web technologies in today’s job market.
Part 2 of 2: Why Aspiring Programmers (who may not have any any programming experience at all) should learn Ruby on Rails
Get a job even in this lousy economy!
Whenever I encounter recruiters , I love to ask how many unemployed Ruby on Rails developers they know. The answer is almost always that they don’t know of any. In order to recruit a Ruby on Rails engineer, they need to approach people who are already working for other companies.
Unemployment levels are currently at all-time highs in the Unites States (and elsewhere). And it seems that this isn’t going to change any time soon. Imagine if there was a career that was (almost) guaranteed to provide employment opportunities! Well, there is. Become a Ruby on Rails developer. Most Ruby on Rails jobs are based in urban areas, but there are many opportunities to work remotely as well. One popular website to search for Ruby on Rails jobs is http://rorjobs.com .
Ruby is easy to learn (and so is Rails)
If you have never programmed before, Ruby makes for an awesome first language. It has a natural, pleasant syntax and various other features that make it really easy to learn. If you wanted to program the equation 1 + 1, the Ruby code for that is simply that: 1 + 1. (So you may already know some Ruby without even realizing it!) The same can’t be said of all languages. In Clojure (another programming language), you’d actually have to type ( + 1 1). Clojure may be cool (for some people), but I wouldn’t recommend it as a first language.
Rails is a web framework built with Ruby. You may not know what a web framework is, but the gist of it is that it is software that helps you build a website. You write Ruby code in conjunction with Rails (which itself is written with Ruby). Rails, like Ruby, is easy to learn, and can help you create fully featured websites without much effort.
How do you begin to learn how to program? I believe that the greatest obstacle that prevents people from attempting to learn web development is simply not knowing where to start. There are many great books and tutorials out there, but here are my suggestions:
One excellent book that is especially written for the total newbie, is “Learning to Program” by Chris Pine. It uses Ruby, so you get to learn general programming and Ruby at the same time. I have also begun creating a new screencast series, specifically designed to teach Ruby to those who know absolutely nothing about computer programming. This is especially useful for visual learners, who may have a difficult time learning a new topic from a book and would rather see it in action. No matter how you learn best, I recommend using both resources together, which provides a multifaceted approach that can allow you to grasp the material more fully (and quickly).
Once you have picked up the basics with the aforementioned resources, I highly recommend Michael Hartl’s popular Ruby on Rails tutorial, which consists of a book and screencasts together. (Again, the combination of a book and screencasts together make for a killer combo.) The book is actually free online, but I am a huge proponent of making the investment to purchase the screencasts; they are absolutely incredible. This is actually what I used to learn Ruby on Rails (which I now use professionally) and let me tell you, it just works. Again, if you don’t have previous programming experience, you should first check out the other resources I mentioned.
Ruby on Rails can help you embark upon a fun and rewarding career whether you are a veteran programmer or just vaguely interested in becoming one. If you want to learn more or have questions about where to start, a mentor is also a good option. I happen to know a good one who would love to help!
This is a two part series. For part one visit: “Why to learn Ruby on Rails for the experienced programmer”
More about our guest blogger: Jay Wengrow, a Ruby on Rails software engineer, is the lead developer for doggyloot.com. He is also the creator of the new Anyone Can Learn To Code screencast series for aspiring programmers who have no previous programming experience.