Teach Yourself Code

September 2, 2013

If you are a start-up, without a developer as one of the co-founders, think about teaching yourself code. Many co-founders find themselves asking, "But what language?"  Well, that's a great question! 

If you have a "big idea", and it can be deployed within a browser, it is best to start with Ruby on Rails.  Rails makes it easier for newbies to get their feet wet without committing to 6 to 12 months of rigorous training as you would learning Ruby, PHP, Python, etc.  From there you can expand your knowledge, without being too discouraged at the onset.  There are schools popping up all over the place (FINALLY!), as this market segment has recently exploded amongst start-ups.

Lynda.com (7-day free trial)

Teamtreehouse

Code School

Codeacademy (free)

Rails for Zombies

Railscasts

In the following video, Mattan Griffel first explains how to get started with Rails.  Around the 28:50 mark he tells of an experience that offers the best argument I have seen for starting with Ruby on Rails. Essentially, the lesson he learned after a frustrating experience at a developer's conference is that coding has become similar to the digital camera vs. the 35mm.  If you've never held a camera before, but you want to learn the basics of taking pictures, you can start with an old Leica IIIf, learn apeture and f-stops, and develop the film in a dark room OR…you can just flip your smartphone on camera mode and start testing your eye. Most professional photographers thoroughly entrenched in the craft would advise starting with an old camera, to help you understand the basics of photography and develop your eye from there but the digital approach is really all you need to get started just like Rails.

Rails is not as thorough as mastering Ruby or Python, nor is it as easy as taking pics with a smartphone (although my mother's tech skills might present a valid argument). In the world of start-ups it's about getting your vision out there and testing the waters with a minimal viable product. 

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