Red Squirrel Reflections
Dave Hoover explores the psychology of software development

Dave Hoover
dave.hoover@gmail.com

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Fri, 01 Sep 2006

Reflections on Leading Obtiva's first Rails/TDD Course

I just wrapped up the final day of our first Rails/TDD Course. What a week! I certainly have a newfound respect for teachers: after our first day my throat hurt, my feet ached, and I was totally drained. But by the end of the week I felt like I was getting the hang of it. This last day was particularly fun, as we ajaxified the Rails app that we built over the first three days. (BTW, the Rails app we built was a pseudo-replacement for XPlanner.) We wrapped up the course by creating a story/iteration management page that allowed us to drag-and-drop stories between iterations and the backlog.

A few reflections from my experiences watching an excellent bunch of Ruby/Rails newbies learn to develop in Ruby/Rails:

  • Although it's a nice idea in theory, Rails' pluralized model/table relationship causes continual typos and confusion around when something should be plural and when something should be singular.
  • Speaking of typos, although TDD mitigates some of the loss of feedback from Ruby's lack of IDE-error-highlighting support, a single typo in a Ruby program can be painfully hard to find. This is particularly painful for people accustomed to Eclipse or IDEA in Java, which go the extra mile to point directly at any problems in your code the moment you type it.
  • RadRails is a great Rails IDE. I particularly liked its Plugin tab. I highly recommend it to anyone coming into Rails from Java on Eclipse.
OK, that's all for now. I'm signing off for the rest of the holiday weekend. I need a break!

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