Coding Bootcamp - Week 8

So Rails, we meet again…

Prior to joining Makers Academy I had only a brief encounter with Ruby on Rails, a framework for building apps using the Ruby programming language. I built a Pinterest clone following a paint-by-numbers-style course called One Month Rails. I finished the course. The app ran fine :-) But, at the end of it, I was still scratching my head as to how this whole damn Rails thing actually worked. The One Month Rails course, although very good, often had to skirt over a lot of the detail. It was a one month course after all. Rails, by its very nature aims to take a lot of the hard work out of web development and provides a raft of functional shortcuts that do a lot of work for you in the background. Rails magic? Almost certainly. But I think the intention behind Rails magic is good, even if you do come out of the whole experience with even more questions.Thankfully, a lot of my longstanding questions were answered this week. Alex, our current teacher/coach at Makers Academy took us through Rails from the ground up. Having had some experience the previous week building apps the slightly harder way using the Sinatra framework, things finally began to sink in. I don’t think I ever could have got to this point studying on my own as I had being doing previously. We created a clone of Yelp, which included a typical sign up process and the ability for the user to add information about restaurants and add reviews. Ok, it’s still a little rough around the edges and all the restaurants have KFC avatars but it’s a start huh.

What it really means to be agile…

We had two great talks this week - one by Laurie Young, from New Bamboo and the other from Makers Academy Teacher and Dr of Code(?), Enrique.

Both shared their own views on what it really means to be agile when it comes to developing software. In my own experience, agile tended to be a buzzword that was used with abnormally high frequency at the various industry meetups I attended. What I realise now is that my experience with agile was pretty shallow up until this point. Sure, the agencies I commissioned adopted a number of agile practices - a few ‘sprints’ chucked in here and there. Maybe a regular morning standup meeting thrown for good measure. What I did not realise is that being agile is much more than that. Enrique especially, was at pains to point out that being agile is as much about being values driven as it is being practice driven. The the Agile Manifesto says it all…

  1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
  2. Working software over comprehensive documentation.
  3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  4. Responding to change over following a plan

It seems like being truely agile is an ethos, almost a way of life. It’s certainly much more than performing techniques from the latest textbook. It will often put you at odds with company culture, particularly if it has a more traditional business mindset. Hence, Enrique claims, you get a lot of companies that like the thought of being agile, but are not willing to make big enough changes to fulfill their intentions.

Written on April 15, 2014