2 years to build a simple Rails app, and my learnings along the way

This post is a little embarrassing, simply because it shows my 2 struggle to learn the basics of programming. Especially when I read about people building their first app in 30/60/90 days.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve been trying to learn Rails. My journey began 2 summers ago at Rails Camp New England. I was clueless about how to build a Rails App, but after spending most of the summer trying to find someone at my school with technical chops, I gave up and decided I should just teach myself.

Slowly I made progress, and continued to learn (although I admit it was off-and-on). Last school year I got screwed over by one of my professors (you can read all about it here), so I’ve been actively looking for a way to help fellow students sell their textbooks, without the bookstore prices.

Build something you are passionate about

I could have built a simple Rails app last summer, but I never had the passion to actually complete it, push it live, and promote it to my friends/classmates. I worked my way through tutorials, and I would burn out. The completed app was something I didn’t care about.

I read all the time about people encouraging others to build something they are passionate about. Work on a “breakable toy.” It really matters.

Here’s what I built: YOUMainebooks

Push it Live

Don’t be scared to push something live, it’s the best way to learn. After I pushed the app, I was spammed for a week, before I finally figured out how to add a Captcha. I was embarrassed, but nothing motivates you better than frantically trying to remove racist malware from your site!

Have Fun!

Building the app was tons of fun, and I learned skills that I will continue to build on in the future.

Don’t be Stupid

I’m not making any money off YOUMainebooks, so I thought it would be a good idea to send a mass email to all the kids that were online using FirstClass. Not the best idea, and my account was disabled. More embarrassment, but a good story to say the least!