Ruby Mendicant University

I came across this post about Ruby Mendicant University while reading up on Prawn, a Ruby PDF generation library. RMU is an interesting idea in its own right – is it a new idea? – but what I liked about the post, what connected with me, was the discussion of the ‘plateau’ of learning that comes after grasping the basics of the language, when the need is to discover about good style and efficient, elegant coding. That’s something very familiar.

There are a lot of people who have gone through the initial gauntlet only to plateau and find that while they can play by ear, they can’t quite read the music

Because I often work alone and I have to somehow solve the problems I take on I am slowly grinding away at my Ruby ignorance. It’s great to find neat and expressive ways to achieve things, and it’s always depressing to leave a trail of ugly-looking code in one’s wake, so there are sticks as well as carrots. But as the interviewer prompts, ‘Underwear + ??? = Ruby Knowledge. Meaning, there’s bloody nothing in the middle range.’ In other words, there’s a deafening internet silence just at the point when guidance could be most valuable. This stage includes all sorts of really interesting things, things I know I want to know about but which are nevertheless frustratingly unknown unknowns.

My previous post perhaps illustrates the rather unfocused understanding I have gained so far; I wasn’t able to make the correct assumption about the precedence of the operators because I wasn’t taking into account the = operator in the statement. Un-fluent thinking.

I would guess that in a team with a strong leader, or with a mentor, this stage can be crossed pretty fast. But for those people who are more isolated, the idea of focused group learning online, via IRC, sounds smart. And it looks to be a success so far.

Published on 24/06/2010 at 09:01 by Technophile, tags , , , ,

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