New LearningRails.com podcast posted, what topics would be useful to you?

Hi all, Michael S. and I just posted our second episode of the
LearningRails.com” podcast intended for new programmers aspiring to
learn and use Rails and for designers who need to work with Rails
developers.

This episode covers what happens when a user enters a URL in their
browser. We compare and contrast a little bit with static and PHP
based sites, then provide a gentle introduction to Rails Controllers,
Models, and Views. We define some Ruby terminology is a very simply
way to present some general concepts (Class, Object, Variable, etc).

For the experienced developers out there, please realize we are
trading precision in our descriptions and terminology in favor of a
simplified introduction that can give more new developers and web
designers a general conceptual model to start with. We intend to peel
away the onion over time and refine our audience’s understanding. This
is not a heavy CS presentation by any stretch.

Big question is: What questions do folks encounter the most when new
practitioners quiz you on Ruby and Rails? What about when you work
with designers? Do you find there are topics that you wish the
designer knew a little more about so your collaboration was more
efficient?

We’d love any feedback so we can make this a more useful resource to
all…and hopefully something that experienced developers can use to
point new folks at.

Here are few things I struggled with to get the barest of starts.
Thankfully I’ve figured most of these out with lots of help from people
here. And a few of them are probablly half-baked but its a brainstorm.

  1. The books all use the rails convention of symbols and and variable
    names identical to the names of model of objects…I personally found
    that convention (while valuable for real work and one that i will
    follow) used in the books made it hard for me to grasp how to pass
    information from database to contoller to view etc.

1a) getting data back and forth from forms understanding exactly what
params is, what you can name params elements etc. Examples of doing the
same thing three different ways using form_for form_tag and maybe
straight html.

1b) show how to use hidden fields to pass extra information. (really
sort of easy but for some reason there aren’t examples in the books )

1c) show some fleshed out examples of how to use partials for forms
where the whole form is in a partial , not just the fields portion like
in the scaffolds… how do you get the info in passing the partial an
object and locals to populate select lists on that form on a partial)

1d) show forms with associations and manipulating associations without
using java drag drop so one can get a feel for writing controller
actions that take information from params and use logic on it.

  1. Walk through a few plugins to really show exactly (ad naseum) where
    you type what, where new code will appear where, how to access new
    features. I imagine certain parts of plugins seem so second nature to
    experienced developers that they can’t even imagine what a newbie would
    struggle with. (I got help here…and am grateful for all the help ive
    been getting here). I really struggle trying to understand exactly
    what neat sounding plugins will do and how i’ll access their features.
    (I know they’ll enable named methods in already existing helpers for
    example but that was even a mental leap for me) ( some baby-step hand
    holding examples would help eliminate some fears and get me in the habit
    of incorporating things that other people have done better before).

  2. Hopefully I’ll have figured this out before you do it, but show how a
    person will actually use the redhills foreign key restraint plugin s
    showing what I’ll need to do differently in declaring relationships than
    I did before etc (oops is that a repeat of number 2, shamelessly
    specific? ((and I know I’m being lame being afraid to just go ahead and
    try it and learn by debugging))

  3. As long as you are targeting ultra newbies to programming like me,
    giving us a look at how you actually would work on a real application
    would be nice. Almost all of the screencasts try to simplify and hone
    in on one particular feature which is understandable if the point is to
    teach the feature. I’m curious about work habits.

I’d love a bigger picture glimpse at someone’s desktop…I’ve read a few
chapters of the subversion book but I’m unclear on how I’d actually open
things in my windows based editor using subversion(just seeing someone
else do it might be reassuring) I’d like to get a glimpse of what
controllers look like or how many different controllers there might be
at real sites that were somewhat bigger than the demo’s in the books and
perhaps incorporated logins, blog like things, and scheduling… how
long is the model list going to look like…are some controllers 700
lines? etc.

I’m not asking that all the features of a larger app be explained but
just ten minutes of life over the shoulder of someone adding an
attribute to an existing model, adding controller code and view tweaks
to accommodate that into an already full featured site. Not so much to
teach one specific right way but to give an idea of scope and procedure.

Lol, ok those were just a couple of ideas.

These are a good “few” ideas :slight_smile:

The challenge we are trying to tackle is to find the “obvious in front
of our noses” type stuff that experienced developers tend to take for
granted, but can be a real mystery to a new practitioner. Alistair
Cockburn, the Crystal Agile methodology inventor, has a nice way of
thinking about learning a new skill --Shu, Ha, Ri, or following,
detaching, and fluency. Long story short, think of this as three
levels of mastery. When you are a master, you rarely even have to
think about “how” or “why” you are doing something, you just naturally
do it. When you are an apprentice, or even a journeyman, that kind of
information is critical.

I’ll take this list back (and any other feedback…anyone else either
personally have new areas they are interested in or find that they are
fielding too often from new folks?) and see what we can incorporate.

Our next few topics will cover View related items (including some of
the mysteries you mention–partials, forms, etc.) and peeling away
what is happening in Models and how to think about your problem in
terms of OO Modeling.

The plugin topics and general glimpse at other non-toy/sample projects
are good ideas.

Keep listening and let us know if we get closer to the target…that
feedback helps and I’m always happy to answer questions.

-chris

On Dec 11, 7:02 pm, Tom N. [email protected]

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