Last week, Art.sy tech lead Daniel Doubrovkine took to the NYC-rb mailing list to advertise a new six-week Ruby course he’s co-teaching at General Assembly. “Forgive me for shameless advertising. I am teaching a RoR for Developers class @ GeneralAssemb.ly in January,” he wrote. Innocuous enough, but some members of the Ruby community took umbrage at the pricetag: $2,800. “Any programmer should be able to learn Rails without paying $2,800,” wrote Rubyist Kfir Shay. “Documentation is excellent, free online resources are plenty, community is strong etc.”
$2,800 sounds high when compared to instructional Ruby Meetups and Skillshare classes in the $0-$50 range. Ruby Nuby is a free collaborative meetup / support group for aspiring Rubyists; local Rubyist and DesignerPages chief product office Avi Flombaum is making a neat little side gig out of teaching a $35 class on Ruby basics on Skillshare; he charges $800 for the five-week version. Free resources like Learn Ruby the Hard Way abound.
Still, the $2,800 General Assembly class, “Rails for Developers,” is already sold out.
In fact, there’s plenty of demand for pricey Ruby classes. A ten-session intro class at NYU is $1,295. Ruby classes can run upwards of $2,000 for a three-day course. New Yorkers can get five days of Ruby and Rails training at the for-profit training center Marakana for $2,150. Codeacademy offers 12-week courses for $6,000.
Mr. Doubrovkine took pains to build his class, he said, and although he’s a first-time teacher, he spent a year teaching himself Ruby on Rails, coding overnight and building Art.sy. “Since I’ve been speaking quite a bit this year, GA asked me whether I’d be interested in teaching a Ruby/Rails course for devs—they had a huge demand, most two-hour classes (those $10-30 kinds that pack 25 people) were sold out almost immediately and people were asking for in-depth courses with a small group,” he told Betabeat in an email. “I built this class as if I were a student—I didn’t need to understand what a while loop is obviously, but I would have loved an instructor to explain me things from the bottom-up, not from top-to-bottom, which is 95 percent of existing Rails classes. I had these ‘aha!’ moments since I started building Ruby apps and I wanted to make every 2 hour class about an ‘aha!’ moment.”
The course will start by explaining how open-source workflow works, to get everyone on the same level with Git and Github. For the Ruby-fluent readers, he says:
We do some basic Ruby, where it quickly gets complicated and then we learn about Rack—if you have bare bones Ruby and you want to write a web app, the next level up is Rack. Then if you want MVC you got Rails—so now you really understand (hopefully) how things are constructed. Through all of this we’ll use RSpec (my current commercial app has 2800+ RSpec tests, I am a big believer in BDD/TDD), and every other aspect of the Rails ecosystem – ActiveSupport/Record, ActionView, etc. We’ll switch databases and do a bit of NoSQL. We’ll do some CoffeeScript, throw everything we learned away and understand how a modern UI is built in RoR today – we’ll build an API in two different ways and a UI on top. Because the class is not noobs, I am hoping we can cover this in about 4 weeks (2 lectures every week with exercises). After 4 weeks I want the class to feel pretty sweaty from the amount of new stuff.
The last one to two weeks will be spent building “the beginning of a real open-source app that I wanted to build for a long time,” he said, which will be something simple and without commercial ambition. “I hope a couple of people from the class will become its maintainers and it will be great success if anyone in the real world ends up using and contributing to it in the future,” Mr. Doubrovkine said.
General Assembly decides the prices for its classes. ”We are extremely focused on delivering the most valuable and highest quality programs,” GA co-founder Brad Hargreaves said in an email. “The instructors of this program have worked closely with our in-house instructional designer to develop a robust training in Ruby on Rails. This six-week course is among our most intensive. We also offer dozens of individual classes that range from $10 to $75 per class. Our goal is to make our curriculum accessible to as many people as possible.”