Learn Ruby the Hard Way, Part 1: Command Line

(Click here if you want to read about why I’m writing this series)


I got a recommendation to try Learn Ruby the Hard Way from Ada Developer’s Academy. I figured they must know what they’re doing, since they regularly turn women with no programming experience into full-stack developers.

In the Introduction, titled “The Hard Way is Easier”, Learn Ruby the Hard Way promises that:

If you go through this book, and do each exercise for one or two hours a night, you will have a good foundation for moving onto another book about Ruby to continue your studies. This book won’t turn you into a programmer overnight, but it will get you started on the path to learning how to code.

I thought that was a reasonable promise, given my level of experience. And I was already skimming the Table of Contents to see what I would be able to do (soon!). Then I clicked on “Exercise 0: The Setup” and saw this:


If you do not know how to use PowerShell on Windows, Terminal on OS X, or bash on Linux then you need to go learn that first. You should do the exercises in Appendix A first before continuing with these exercises.

Okay, no problem. I could do an Appendix…

Screenshot (12)


I have to give Zed Shaw credit. I had NO previous experience with Command Line, and as promised, I was able to get through the entire Appendix, and successfully learn what I needed to without crashing my computer, deleting my novel-in-progress, or doing anything else harmful. It did take me a little longer than I had hoped, but it was validating to be able to pull up Powershell, type things in, and watch them happen in my File Explorer.

On the other hand, looking back after having done quite a bit of Learn Ruby the Hard Way, the only thing I really needed to know how to do to start doing the actual Ruby exercises in the book was change directories (“cd [directory name]”) and run Ruby (“Ruby [saved_file.rb]”) which he probably could have taught in one exercise. Oh well, I still felt smart and accomplished for completing this appendix!

Also worth noting: installing and running Ruby on my Microsoft Surface Pro 3 was harder than expected; I ended up having to ask for help to make sure it was running correctly. There is a box you have to check during the install process that, if you leave it unchecked, causes problems later because the computer doesn’t recognize the PATH:


So if you’re installing Ruby, make sure you check the boxes!

Overall, I enjoyed the Command Line exercises, and I felt that the written teaching was clear and easy to follow. On to actual Ruby exercises next…


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