Free curriculum for the self-taught web developer?
September 8, 2015 6:27 PM   Subscribe

I want to build up my skills as a web developer, and just completed CodeAcademy's Ruby course. What's next?

I've always been interested web design and spent a lot of time in high school in the mid-90s building random web pages; I also enjoyed learning programming in my computer science classes (Turbo Pascal and Hypercard!) I don't want to make any kind of a career change, but I think learning more about web development would be a useful complementary skill set for my job as a business analyst. There are a lot of free resources out there, and I'd like to take advantage.

I am reasonably comfortable with HTML and CSS, so I thought I'd tackle Ruby as my next focus. (The devs at work use Ruby on Rails.) I enjoyed learning skills and breezed through CodeAcademy's lessons, but I don't have any illusions that I'm adept or anything now--I've been looking at some of the exercises at RubyMonk and still find many of them quite challenging and/or beyond my skill set.

I'm ready to learn more, but where do I go? RubyMonk is one place, but I'd like to be at least somewhat deliberate with this and make sure I make the most of my time. The trouble is there is just so much out there. Just for Ruby there are so many web resources and that's without going into all the other stuff I want to learn about. There's loads of stuff on CodeAcademy, of course, but there's also The Odin Project, Learn [Language] the Hard Way, and all kinds of books.

How can I best spend my time?
posted by synecdoche to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
Depending on what exactly you hope to achieve, it might actually be worth becoming familiar with a couple of other languages, say Python and PHP. It can be fairly handy to be able to understand what is being done in a wide array of languages.
posted by wierdo at 7:47 PM on September 8, 2015

Try your hand at a css zen garden design.
posted by colin_l at 8:14 PM on September 8, 2015

Honestly, you're better off thinking up an idea for a project of a problem you want to solve and then using that as a guide for what skills you pick up. Programming can be hard to learn in a vacuum, without the fun of seeing your ideas come to life. If you need some inspiration, I recommend the "cookbook" style books. Or get some data from the government and try to build a tool to visualize it.
posted by deathpanels at 8:27 PM on September 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

FreeCodeCamp is interesting. It's JavaScript focused, walks you from basic stuff to reasonably advanced coding, and includes project assignments you can tackle to build up your front- and back-end web dev chops.
posted by zjacreman at 9:28 PM on September 8, 2015 [3 favorites]

I preferred the (low-priced but not free) Code School over Code Academy. Going through their JavaScript coursework was a good foundation for Free Code Camp, which I am currently doing and which I love. They don't hand hold too much, it's very structured and the gitter chat is very active if you need any help. You'll probably fly through the HTML/CSS parts.

Coderbyte also has some good (difficult!) challenges that you can do in the language of your choosing.
posted by FiveSecondRule at 2:23 AM on September 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

This isn't so much for Ruby specifically, but you might like how Bento lays things out. I personally enjoy the color-coding for, e.g. back end vs. front end, but some may find it overwhelming to see the variety of things one might want to learn.

Here's the detail page for Ruby, with various links for learning more.
posted by brackish.line at 3:04 PM on September 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

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