Photo of a review of Ruby Koans as a software engineering resource

A review of Ruby Koans as a software engineering resource

Hi, I’m Brian, a former senior software engineer and now industry mentor at Pathrise. I have worked with hundreds of software engineers to help them land their dream jobs in tech. Check out my review of Ruby Koans.

What does Ruby Koans do?

Ruby Koans is an online resource for developers with some experience programming in Ruby. It is helpful if you want to learn more about the language, syntax, structure, common functions, and libraries. 

The program is broken up into 282 koans, which are files that include lessons on subjects such as arrays, class methods, and constants, as well as larger projects. Users download the koans (files), which help programmers learn how to use Ruby through hands-on assignments. Some koans require users to substitute the correct answer for an incorrect one. Others ask users to supply their own solutions. Before they attempt to solve the problem, users run tests and see where the code fails. As soon as the test fails, Ruby Koans helps the programmer identify how they can improve the code. The koans should be completed in order, as new lessons build on previous ones. 

In addition, Ruby Koans has a list of other resources that users can consult to further their Ruby knowledge. For instance, they can check out sample solutions on the GitHub page, as well as further readings and resources for those with no prior experience programming in Ruby.

Photo of Ruby Koans as a software engineering resource

Who is Ruby Koans for?

Intermediate and advanced web developers and software engineers who have prior experience programming in Ruby on Rails can benefit from Ruby Koans. The program is a good option for those who are self-motivated. It is also good for people interested in learning how to improve their skills through hands-on practice and projects. They do not provide access to mentorship, instructors, or peers. 

What does Ruby Koans cost? How much work is involved?

Ruby Koans is free. To start using the resources, users must install Ruby with a version number greater than 1.8. Once they have Ruby installed, they can download the app and begin learning. There is no need to create an account. 

Ratings and reviews

In general, online reviewers felt that Ruby Koans was a good online resource for experienced programmers to continue learning Ruby on Rails. 

Launchcode included Ruby Koans on their 10 best resources to Learn Ruby on Rails. Fullstack Academy recommended them as a tool to learn Ruby on Rails for free. Slant also featured the app on their list of 27 best resources to learn Ruby.

Users on a Reddit thread debated whether or not Ruby Koans was a useful resource for learning Ruby on Rails. Most decided that it was helpful for intermediate and advanced programmers, but not beginners. According to one user, “I don’t think Ruby Koans are a good way to learn the language, but I think they’re a great way to practice what you learn. Koans are like homework. They’re a way to test what you know”. Echoing this, another user said the files are “good for people who already know the language to solve unique and interesting problems. Then you look at the various solutions and learn new tricks.” 

But, a user who was new to Ruby disliked the learning method. They noted that “all it is is edit code, run code, those changes need to be made, made changes, code runs okay, next”. They also said, “there’s no explanation, and some of the things they want me to do are ridiculous.” 

On a different Reddit threat, one user suggested that those looking to use Ruby Koans should “probably start with Codecademy courses on Ruby to learn about the syntax and basic ideas.”

Alternatives to Ruby Koans

If you decide not to use Ruby Koans, there are a number of alternatives online resources and bootcamps that teach Ruby on Rails and other programming languages.

  • You can check out Udacity and Springboard, which are online educational platforms that students can use to brush up on the basics or advance their current tech skills. Read more about Udacity and Springboard in our reviews.
  • edX is one of the largest online learning platforms. They have courses from top universities like Harvard and MIT as well as big tech companies like Microsoft. Learn more about edX in our review.
  • Those who are interested in online learning platforms can also try Coursera, Udemy, RubyTapas, GoRails, and egghead to learn Ruby on Rails and other programming languages. 
  • Codecademy is one of the most popular coding programs online. They provide free courses on many different programming languages. They also offer membership options ranging from $20 to $40. Learn more about Codecademy in our review.
  • Similarly, you can consider Coder Foundry, which teaches courses on web and mobile app dev.
  • Or, consider Kal Academy, which works with women and underrepresented groups on software engineering, web dev, and data.
  • One of the most well known bootcamps is General Assembly, which offers full-time, part-time, and 1-day courses on a variety of topics like software engineering with Ruby on Rails, as well as data science, UX design, digital marketing, product management, and more. Read more about General Assembly in our review.
  • SoloLearn, freeCodeCamp, and W3Schools are free online learning tools with tracks in Ruby on Rails, as well as other languages.
More alternatives
  • Aspiring software engineers and web developers can also consider CodeX Academy, a self-paced coding bootcamp with mentorship opportunities. Learn more about CodeX Academy in our review.
  • You can also consider Bloc, a tech bootcamp with a track that teaches Ruby on Rails for web dev.
  • You can also check out Bubble no-code bootcamps to learn how to make products without coding. Learn more about Bubble in our review.
  • For those with design sensibilities, Kenzie Academy is a full-time tech bootcamp that offers in-person and online courses in 2 tracks: software engineering & UX design and front-end engineering. Learn more about Kenzie Academy in our review.
  • With online and in-person options, Actualize, Flatiron School, Fullstack Academy, Nucamp, Code Fellows, Launch Academy, and Holberton School offer software engineering bootcamps that cover programming with Ruby on Rails. 
  • Another option is Grand Circus, which teaches courses on Java, front-end, and C# .NET. Their campuses are in Michigan, but they also offer online options.
  • Likewise, Tech Elevator is a software engineering bootcamp with online and on-campus options.
  • People looking for a self-paced online bootcamp that teaches Ruby on Rails can check out OpenClassrooms.

How does Ruby Koans compare to Pathrise?

Ruby Koans is a useful tool for experienced programmers looking to learn new techniques for programming in Ruby on Rails. While users can find some solutions on their GitHub page, they do not provide in-depth code walkthroughs, recorded lessons, a discussion board, job-seeking resources, or 1-on-1 instruction or mentorship. 

Pathrise is a full service organization that works with fellows on each step of their job search. We place an emphasis on preparing for technical interviews by providing workshops, 1-on-1 mentoring, and pair programming sessions. We also assist fellows with resume and portfolio building, behavioral interview preparation, salary negotiation, and more. Fellows in our program interact with their mentors 1-on-1 each week and have the opportunity to schedule additional sessions as needed.

Furthering technical skills is an important aspect of landing a job as a software engineer or web developer, so Pathrise fellows can use the app in conjunction with our technical workshops to advance their current skills. 

Pathrise is a career accelerator that works with students and professionals 1-on-1 so they can land their dream job in tech. With our tips and guidance, we’ve seen our fellows interview performance scores double.

If you are interested in optimizing your job search by working 1-on-1 with a mentor, become a Pathrise fellow.

Apply today.

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Brian Wong

Brian Wong is an experienced senior software engineer and has worked at top bay area startups and organizations. In his free time, Brian works with Pathrise SWE fellows to help them land their dream job and learn insider tips on how to ace technical interviews.

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