To get some additional practice with ActiveRecord – which I was told was going to be important moving forward – I decided to refactor my CLI project to include a database. The project turned out to be a bit more of an adventure than I was anticipating, but it was very helpful in terms of absorbing and improving my understanding of what ActiveRecord does and why it’s important. I will try to summarize what I learned here.
Learning to code sometimes feels a bit like learning to juggle. You start off with one ball and toss it up in the air a whole bunch of times until that starts to feel natural. Then you add a second ball and everything goes to hell. But you keep practicing and pretty soon you feel like you can handle two balls, then three, and before long you start to feel like you’re getting to be a pretty good juggler. Then you hit a lesson that feels like someone tossed a bowling ball at you.
I had my review for the CLI Data project a few days ago. Something happened in that review that I was expecting to happen: I lost my marbles. But I didn’t remotely anticipate the sheer extent to which my brain – which, after all, had been spending quite a bit of time learning this stuff in recent weeks – lost all ability to reason when confronted with a request to refactor code. I was, in that moment at least, utterly incapable of thinking through how to solve the problem.
The Object Relationships lessons and labs in the OO Ruby section of the curriculum were challenging for me. Wrapping my head around object relationships and how to get everything to collaborate – which classes should be responsible for what, how to call a class’s methods from another class – was a struggle. But once I got to my CLI Project I discovered something: if you’re building the app from the ground up, it’s actually easier. The natural structure of your project helps guide you in how to organize and tie everything together.
One of the pitfalls of being an English major in college is that at some point you’re probably going to have to read Moby Dick. When it happened to me I approached the assignment with dread. After all, I’d heard more horror stories about Moby Dick than almost any of the other dense tomes in the curriculum. But once I got started I was pleasantly surprised – it was charming and funny and accessible! All those people must just not be as smart as I am, I thought. But then the boat set sail and everything changed. Charm, humor, accessibility were all left sitting on the dock in Nantucket Harbor. I was adrift on the vast oceans, vainly pursuing an elusive quarry.