NOTE:This blog had a good run, but is now in retirement.
Please see Practicing Ruby for Gregory's more recent works.

Practicing Ruby, The Newsletter

2010-11-08 16:43, written by Gregory Brown

Welcome, Hacker News folks. If you find the following project worthwhile, I’d really appreciate an up vote so that I can reach a broader audience. Please read a bit about Ruby Mendicant University to see what cause this goes to support.

Since the first Ruby Mendicant University session began in August, I’ve interacted with and mentored roughly 50 students. The fascinating thing is that despite the wide gradient in skill levels we see at RMU, there are many common obstacles that trip up the majority of students attending our sessions.

As it turns out, there is a surprisingly wide gap between a foundational book such as David A. Black’s Well Grounded Rubyist which is suitable for beginners and my own Ruby Best Practices book which is designed to help intermediate developers. At least as far as I’ve seen, this isn’t a hole that has been filled in by other resources that aren’t some kind of interactive training program. My new project, the Practicing Ruby newsletter is designed to fill in that gap.

Each week, I’ll choose a topic based on things I’ve noticed tend to trip up intermediate Ruby developers. Every Tuesday, some background information on the topic along with some discussion points and open questions will be sent out to the readers. Some time will be given for open discussion on a mailing list made available to subscribers, and then a follow up article will delivered on Thursday which provides some answers to the given questions as well as some practical examples of whatever topic we are studying that week.

My hope is that this will be a great use of one of the byproducts of running RMU. Not everyone has the available free time and motivation to spend several weeks in the intense training programs we offer at RMU, and space in our sessions is severely limited. But a wide range of Ruby developers can benefit by exploring the topics we’re running into at RMU, especially if we can break them down into something that takes an hour or less a week to study. If you’re an intermediate Ruby developer who would rather do your learning in bite-size chunks, this newsletter is for you.

If this sounds interesting to you, please sign up for Practicing Ruby now. The cost is $5 a month, but you can feel good in knowing that the better off this newsletter does, the easier it will be for me to continue dedicating time to the completely free Ruby Mendicant University. I currently spend more than 30 hours a week on RMU, with about half of that going to student interaction, and would happily dedicate all my time to it if it were possible. This newsletter might be a way for me to get a little extra revenue to make up for my lost consulting hours, at least until we have a proper non-profit organization in place for supporting RMU.

While I do not have any sample newsletters ready just yet, you can download the whole RBP book for free to get a sense of my writing style. I can also tell you that the first topic we’ll be covering will be an exploration of Ruby’s method lookup path followed up by some practical examples of how to put those ideas into action. This will help answer some questions about when to use inheritance, mixins, and even per-object behavior.

Feel free to post any questions or suggestions in the comments section below. I’m really excited about this project and would be happy to hear your thoughts!

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