Having worked with .NET since its beta, for the last 11+ yrs, a Microsoft C# MVP, then working on Visual Studio for six years, I felt it was about time to peek my head into the open source space. It’s been an incredible journey of discovery. I’ll write more about it later, but for now here are a few getting started resources I’ve found handy. These are all free and run great on Windows, Ubuntu, or MacOS.
The 1,2,3 to Start
- Text Editor: Sublime Text 2, I’m thoroughly enjoying this editor, wrote a plugin, ‘evaluation’ is free and doesn’t expire, but they do ask for $60 if you like it, and it’s changed the way I use my computer
- Ruby on Rails: Install on Windows, http://railsinstaller.org/ (use RVM in MacOS or Ubuntu)
- Get Going: Getting Started Guide, a ‘one page’ guide to creating a blog site and get familiar with Rails, this is what got me going
- Control Code: git is so cool for local source code control (remote too, but I really like it locally). Just install locally, run
git initin your directory to create a new local repository,
git add –Ato add all changed files,
git commit –m “my comment”to commit your additions to the repository, and
gitkto visually see. I use it now non-code folders too, like for documents, personal text files, etc.
- Get Live: Heroku, free site hosting, get your site live in like 4 commands (do this first)
- How To: Rails Casts, lovely quick little videos showing awesome gems, watch some of these
- Discover Gems: The Ruby Toolbox for finding gems. Ruby on Rails uses ‘gems’ as modules or libraries to add functionality, like devise for authentication, cancan for authorization, slim for minimalistic html
- User Groups: get plugged in, find a user group in your area and check it out. They’re cool peoples. For example, here’s the Austin TX and Dallas TX groups. Most cities have one, or more. Dallas has a weekly Tues ‘hack night’. Just search meetup.com. Also checkout HTML5, node.js, and Python groups.
- Book: Read Getting Real, by 37signals, creators of the Rails framework, it’s like an ADD or twitter form of business book, it’s about building something now as opposed to any specific tech, totally motivating
- Popularity: to get a completely unscientific idea of how popular Rails is to other frameworks coming out of one mecca of new web development, see google’s search terms in SF CA (try adding more).
- Videos: these guys have 9 cute little “Mac vs PC” style Rails vs other frameworks videos
- Ubuntu: everything here works in Windows, but it does run a little faster in Ubuntu, and it’s is such a cool powerful command-line environment to use and entirely free. VirtualBox is a powerful free virtual machine environment you can run it under. I’m using VBoxVmService to run it in a Windows background service, putty to shell into, samba to access folders from Windows, and tmux for awesomeness.
This is what it feels like…
A few thing that have jumped out at me:
- Watching someone use these makes a big difference in learning them. So get to a local Ruby event, user group, or hack night to see people using them and ask questions. There is a lot of ‘institutional knowledge’ that’s trickier to pick up than I find the .NET stuff to be.
- This stuff is fun. It is really enjoyable. I get the feeling it was created by guys like you and me to build websites fast, fun, and flexible. Read Getting Real and you’ll see the culture behind the movement.
- Learning how Ruby and Python work as languages, their associated frameworks, and the cultures around them, has really given me a new perspective on my .NET coding and habits. It’s good to go beyond one’s comfort zone to bring in fresh new perspectives.
- There’s a culture of using accelerators and modern tech, once you peek in, you’ll immediately start seeing the awesomeness of stuff like bootstrap (changed how we build websites), meteor (you must watch the video), backbone.js, node.js, and other mind-blowing frameworks I was not familiar with previously.
- It’s been a lot of fun discovering these techs. Python really rocks too. Have fun!