“Should I learn to code and build my own idea with node.js or ember.js or (something equally hyped up)?”
I get this question about 5 times a week by potential web development apprenticeship students and people that I advise on building their product in my free time.
This question comes from the idea that one should learn the cutting edge technologies in web development, to be “ahead of the curve” and take advantage of all the latest and greatest technologies available.
I can totally relate to this feeling of being cutting-edge, but unfortunately, when you start out with learning how to code, the cutting-edge is not for you.
Why the cutting edge doesn’t work when you learn to code
First, let’s understand that when you learn how to code you will make mistakes and run into error messages. That’s no big deal and every web developer – from beginner to professional – runs into error messages consistently.
You can fix error messages in your code fast
If you use an established web development framework like Ruby on Rails you are almost guaranteed that somebody before you saw the same error message, posted it online and received advice on how to fix the error message. This means that a quick google search of your own error message often shows a lot of potential answers and the right path to move forward becomes clear after a short time. That’s awesome and means you can continue to learn how to code, rather than chase a rabbit down a hole.
Now, if you’re using a cutting-edge development framework, you might find yourself in the situation where you just cannot find a solution to your error message. What’s worse, you don’t even know if the error message you’re seeing has anything to do with your code or the framework itself – remember cutting-edge means that there are still bugs to be fixed.
This “staring at zero search results in Google” means that you’re now in the bad situation of having to wait for the next node.js user group meeting, go through your network to find somebody who can help you or spend countless days figuring out what’s wrong. That’s no fun!
Not finding a solution to your error message kills your learning opportunity
Every hour that you stare at an error message and don’t know what to do, is valuable time that you’re not investing into learning how to build that next awesome feature, turn user feedback into an improved user experience or learn how to implement the Google Map API into your web application.
You’re simply wasting time and cause yourself a big headache because you wanted to be on the cutting edge.
Do yourself a huge favor and learn how to code and build web application using something as awesome as Ruby on Rails. Ruby on Rails is modern and allows you to build your own web application fast, but it also has been around the block long enough so you can count on an active community of web developers who provide solutions so you can fix your error messages fast.
Now it’s your turn: what was the biggest problem when you started with learning how to code?