Just finished the Hartl tutorial and wondering what's next?

20 Mar 2016

The Rails Tutorial by Michael Hartl is absolutely a terrific resource for getting started with Rails. If you’ve completed it, you probably feel like you know something, but also that you are not sure what to do next.

Hartl points to a couple of other resources, but do you just need to follow them all? Or some of them? Do you feel lost in all the options available?

Don’t be.

While there indeed are many, many articles, tutorials, and courses on Rails, simply going through one after the other won’t make you a better developer. Why? Because being a developer means understanding things, it means solving problems, it means comparing your solution to others and growing.

Tutorials are the easy mode: they give you something you won’t have in the real world — a step-by-step guidance on everything you are trying to accomplish. They give you a how, but not a why. And heck, you need that why.

So, what should you do? Build a small project. It can mean something to you. It can be anything. The key here is not what you’ll build, it’s the fact that you’ll do it completely on your own. (If you are out of ideas — check my post about coming up with project ideas.)

Compare your solutions with these of other people faced with similar problem. Learn from them.

You will run into things you don’t know how to achieve. And that’s ok. You will do a lot of googling and research along the way. You may even ask on StackOverflow if you can’t find anything. That’s how you learn.

But don’t just focus on the how. Don’t find the answer, apply it and forget about it. Try and understand why it has to be this way (or does it?) and how the pieces fit together. If you feel like it, exploring the source codes of the things you use can’t be more valuable.

You will learn so much by doing it. No tutorial can realistically teach you that. You have to do it all yourself.

Do it, do it now. Pick an idea, any idea (remember, it’s not the most important step, don’t let it get you stuck), and do it.

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