Becoming a better Rails developer

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Vahagn Hayrapetyan

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Nov 13, 2009, 5:46:06 AM11/13/09
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Hi,-

does anyone have suggestions on how to evolve one's Rails skills from the junior / intermediate phase? I've started learning Rails about a year ago by copying the code from a book teaching how to design social web apps. It was all right, but having recently browsed source code for an app written by a more experienced developer I realized that I need to know more about "the other way(s) of doing it" (there's always "more than one way to do it" in the Ruby world!)

Usually, the path to becoming a better developer lies through:
  1. Learning by developers better than you, by direct observation
  2. Learning from books and tutorials
  3. Learning by downloading other developers' apps, browsing the source, and "decomposing it" (whatever that means to you)
Unfortunately, option 1) is out of my reach right now so I'd be interested in suggestions on 2) and 3). What books or apps could you recommend that teach "better" Rails? For the Ruby world, there is the "Design Patterns in Ruby" book (http://designpatternsinruby.com/), which I'll soon be getting my teeth into. What I'm looking for is a Rails equivalent(s) - books about Rails done the right way.

Thanks beforhand.

/ Vahagn

PS. Matt, I know this mailing list is for promoting Rails - the reason I'm posting here is because 1) I'm interested in your opinion on this 2) I believe one can promote Rails better by being a better Rails developer.

Gregg Pollack

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Nov 13, 2009, 8:34:56 AM11/13/09
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Hey Vahagn,

Good question... Here are a few things I've seen lately on this topic:

Rails Antipatterns - by Chad Pytel & Tammer Saleh
This book isn't complete yet, but you can get the rough cuts, and
I'm sure there's some great tips.
http://my.safaribooksonline.com/9780321620293

"Rails Best Practices" presentation
http://www.slideshare.net/ihower/rails-best-practices

Also:

- There are several good Ruby books out there on Refactoring which may
be worth checking out.
- There are also some good paid screencasts around which should help.
- You could also find someone in your community who is more
experienced and pay them to pair with you for a day.
- Lastly (here comes the shameless self promotion), you could listen
to Ruby5, to make sure you keep up to date with the latest news and
libraries: http://ruby5.envylabs.com

;-)

-Gregg

Vahagn Hayrapetyan

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Nov 14, 2009, 2:56:28 PM11/14/09
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Hi Gregg,-

thanks for the suggestions. I've checked out the links and they all look promising.

(Btw, the UI for that media player on the Ruby5 site is rather cool! :-) )

/ Vahagn

Johannes Thönes

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Dec 7, 2009, 12:15:26 PM12/7/09
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Hi Vahagn,

for me the best source of code example has been rails itself. It's not
that difficult then you think, after you got started.

Reading rails from the source gave me great insight and ideas what I
could do with it - and of course makes tracking down errors far more
easy.

2009/11/14 Vahagn Hayrapetyan <vah...@gmail.com>:
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Vahagn Hayrapetyan

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Dec 9, 2009, 6:57:57 AM12/9/09
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Hi Johannes,-

that's an interesting recipe for getting better at Rails - I assume you were already proficient at Ruby before reading the Rails source? I tried doing that before I had any real Ruby literacy (I was coming from the Java / .NET world), and found it to be challenging.

I'm getting better at Ruby idioms now, so at some point I'll definitely follow your example. One has to get past the point of "syntactic haze", when one stares at the code figuring out what the syntax means as opposed to what the program does.

Cheers,
Vahagn

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Johannes Thönes

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Dec 10, 2009, 1:59:13 PM12/10/09
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Hello Vahagn,

2009/12/9 Vahagn Hayrapetyan <vah...@gmail.com>:
> Hi Johannes,-
>
> that's an interesting recipe for getting better at Rails - I assume you were
> already proficient at Ruby before reading the Rails source? I tried doing
> that before I had any real Ruby literacy (I was coming from the Java / .NET
> world), and found it to be challenging.
>
> I'm getting better at Ruby idioms now, so at some point I'll definitely
> follow your example. One has to get past the point of "syntactic haze", when
> one stares at the code figuring out what the syntax means as opposed to what
> the program does.

Yes, I had done some Rails development at the time. In fact, I got to
it by accident - I though I had discovered a bug and did look for a
better information on the ticket (it wasn't a bug ad all :D).
But I think, starting to read the code of any application is kind of
hard. At first, you don't understand anything and I had the impression
sometimes, that it doesn't change. But after some effort, I got some
clue and after another, it even starts to get easy.

Cheers
Johannes

By the way. Dave Thomas has given a great interview about reading code
to SE-Radio: http://se-radio.net/podcast/2009-11/episode-148-software-archaeology-dave-thomas

Vahagn Hayrapetyan

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Dec 12, 2009, 7:03:33 AM12/12/09
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Hi Johannes,-

thanks for the link, that's a good interview. There's also a 5-star book about dealing with other people's code, though its focus is more on the refactoring / extending side:

http://www.amazon.com/Working-Effectively-Legacy-Michael-Feathers/dp/0131177052/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1260619245&sr=8-1

Cheers,
Vahagn

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