Sigh. Yet another error message in JavaScript.

I’ve tried so many ways to study JavaScript. I’ve found a few that work ok for me. But just ok. Nothing special. Learning vanilla JavaScript feels like dragging myself through a muddy swamp.

It’s the syntax. All those semi-colons and brackets. I’m still learning the core concepts of good computer programming. Fighting through annoying bits of syntax just gets in the way of this important process.

But this week, I had a Eureka moment. It came in the guise of Ruby.

This wasn’t a random departure from JavaScript, far from it. I’m doing some Ruby in preparation for an online bootcamp that I’m planning to enrol in next month.

Ronin, created by Makers Academy, is probably the best online equivalent to the real-life bootcamp experience. Students work remotely, but the course relies heavily on pair programming and Google Hangouts to simulate being there in-person.

The daily programme even includes time for exercise and meditation! In my opinion online learning is the future. It’s an effective method that opens up so many opportunities to a wider range of students.

I’ve studied online before, for my journalism diploma. I did part of the course while in Manchester and then moved it with me to Istanbul. Strangely, I found that I was far more motivated than I’d been during my actual time spent at brick and mortar universities!

Ronin doesn’t just take anyone. They/ve got a strict selection process. My interview will happen in March. In preparation for it, the guys at Makers Academy emailed me a list of study resources.

So it was all Ruby. I didn’t know the language but I was curious. The recommended book, Learn to Program by Chris Pine, was an excellent start. It’s clear, practical and has a touch of humour. I wrote lots of little programs from the very first chapter on. That was very satisfying.

As for Ruby itself, it’s a breath of fresh air. People talk Ruby up a lot. I even considered learning it last year as my first language. I eventually chose JavaScript, but I can totally understand why people recommend Ruby.

The Ruby syntax is clean and friendly. It’s designed to feel natural and to be as close to human language as possible. So there are none of those dreaded semi-colons and other things that plague JavaScript learners.

After reading a few chapters of Chris Pine’s book, I was able to write simple programs in Ruby. The book enabled me to do this with more autonomy than just copying the syntax in Codeacademy. Importantly, I understood exactly what I was doing and why I was doing it that way. That’s huge!

Learning the basics of Ruby has got me back on track. I now feel more capable of understanding programming, without being weighed down by complex syntax.

When I pick up JavaScript again, hopefully things will make more sense. It’s still going to be a long journey, but I’ve made an important step in the right direction.