Makers Academy Review – Week 10 – Rails Magic!

This will be my last Makers Academy Review about the curriculum because next week and for the final week we shall be working on the final project. Which for me will be Pinch, the snapchat for deals web application which will take inspiration also from GroupOn and from Twitter. This should be all very exciting and I can’t wait for the inevitable challenges and therefore knowledge that this project will bring. I however should really talk about what we learnt this week and how much I learnt.

Most of this week and therefore my headspace was taken up with discussion as to the final project however we did cover; Bootstrap, Creating your own API and basic Rails security. Bootstrap was very useful and makes building a front-end for a website very easy in a short space of time, which is excellent as this is one of the areas that REALLY frustrates me, I would much prefer to be sat on the backend coding away than fiddling about with css elements then deciding that it didn’t look good and starting again. Bootstrap looks plain but simple and it will do for now. It was awesome to see how to create your own API with jbuilder etc. it will also come in useful for dynamically feeding content to the front end, I like it a lot.

Rails security


I learnt a bit about Rails security and how to change your routes so that it covers up the id of the various pages a user visits, I also learnt to authenticate the correct user when they enter various pages and to make sure that other types of users cannot access that side of the site. Security alongside Devise is also very important, with the before_filter: authenticate_user! method to ensure that a user is logged in before they access the page.

This brings me to an end of my Makers Academy Review of the teaching elements of the course (the bit everyone cares about) I will keep you updated as to my progress on the final project and the graduation, which should be very exciting!

Makers Academy Review – Week 9 – Learning Rails

I am coming towards the end of my Makers Academy experience and therefore no doubt this will be one of the last Makers Academy Review articles I shall write. I hope that the weekly reviews have been helpful for people who are considering joining Makers Academy.


This week packed in so many things, Websockets, Devise, CoffeeScript, SASS, HAML and AWS. We used so many things with Rails that it is kind of hard to keep up. Websockets was by far the coolest, it is basically AJAX but it keeps an open connection with the app so that it can push information instantly as and when it is necessary. Devise took a lot of hassle out of the user authentication process and learning to use Facebook API to enable Facebook login is hugely beneficial. There is so many things you can do when you harness the power of both Devise and OmniAuth with regards to 3rd party APIs, you can quite easily setup a user to authenticate themselves via every social network under the sun.

In love with HAML

I have something of a love affair with HAML, it makes the previously disgusting syntax of HTML/ERB look so neat and beautiful, on top of that, it makes perfect sense, the indentation makes it clear what belongs where. Having said that, I haven’t yet fallen in love with SASS or SCSS, if I were to like either it would be SASS simply because the HAML indentation is brought over to it. I haven’t really had a big need to use SASS for my projects yet and this is certainly an area in which I don’t feel comfortable. AWS is very useful and reasonably easy to set up for storing all types of media.

All in all I am really starting to enjoy the whole experience and Rails I think is really where I have seen the most growth in knowledge and where I have found something I actually want to learn because it is obviously a very powerful tool! Guess what the next Makers Academy Review will be about!? Ruby on Rails! The variety is the spice of life!

Makers Academy Review – Week 8 – Ruby on Rails

It is time for another Makers Academy Review, this week about the first week of Rails and about the upcoming launch of Makers Academy Atlas! Things have really started to get interesting now, rails is a whole new world of coding, a very powerful framework designed for building complex and powerful web applications. It is great to get my teeth stuck into something I can really use the knowledge I have gained over the last 8 weeks. It will be great to embrace the power that rails brings and develop more complex web applications. I worked a bit with rails when I went on a Hackathon weekend and found it quite daunting but fascinating all at the same time, then I was able to install the Stripe API to the app. I think that says more about the ease with which Stripe lets you deal with payments and not about my Rails ability at the time.

The teaching this week mainly consisted of doing the Rails Tutorial on the Rails website. I highly recommend this one to start with, it is about building a basic Blogging app. It is boring but informative. If you fancy something a little bit more fun with a few videos thrown in check out¬†Rails for Zombies. Anyway yes, I don’t think the approach of sticking us in front of a tutorial anyone can do online is necessarily bad, the main value is added by the expert tuition of Alex and the other support staff.

Makers Academy Atlas

I am hearing great things about the up and coming Makers Academy Online moving the curriculum over to the internet and away from the Hackpad system that is currently used could be a really good idea and it would open up learning to people all around the world. I think Makers Academy Atlas could be a very big success but they are going up against the giants of General Assembly and DevBootcamp etc and that could prove tough. We shall see I guess.

Makers Academy Review – Week 7 – Javascript

Makers Academy Project

This installment in my weekly Makers Academy Review is about my introduction to Javascript and JQuery and using it to create a rock paper scissors app. This was potentially the best week yet as I was able to really pick this up quickly and build in 2 days this Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock Blair Ketchup app. I really enjoyed this. I liked not having to follow a guide or a tutorial and working directly with the teachers over any JS or AJAX queries that I had so that I felt like I was building the app organically. This was lots of fun, especially as I have an interest in Politics and I could tailor it to how I wanted it to look.

Later in the week we did AJAX with the bookmark manager project. This meant I had to pull the information from the previous week’s example as I had not completed the work for the previous week (indeed I have written off all the sinatra work really).

Next week is Rails! I can’t wait, this is where the real power of Ruby lies (in my opinion) plus I am looking forward to making things that will allow me to create something, post-Makers. Long may this enthusiasm continue. I will try to keep up this Makers Academy Review weekly.

Makers Academy Review – Week 6 – Bookmark Manager

In another installment of my ongoing, blog by blow Makers Academy Review I shall be coding a fully fuctional bookmark manager. Well kind of. More from copied and pasted code from the Hackpad (a resource that holds lots of the Makers Academy curriculum). This is my least favourite method of learning. I get thoroughly bored and want to distract myself in every possible way. I also feel like I am not learning anything, if I could learn well by reading I wouldn’t be at Makers Academy. I would be sat at home in my underpants reading every Ruby, Ruby on Rails and Rspec/Cucumber book under the sun. Unfortunately, I have to pay top dollar because I don’t have the will and determination to do that. Likely due to me being a lazy B and more seriously not absorbing books at all, which is part of the reason as to why I find every possible way to do resort to reading a book, which is easy in the technological era.

Anyway I didn’t manage to finish the bookmark manager by friday due to this sheer boredom so I had to pull the example one for the Friday Test and the next weeks work (working with Javascript, which as you will read was a more pleasant experience.