Coding as Play

When learning to code, at some point there is a transition that happens to you. Specifically, in a structured environment there comes a time where you’re not only doing things because it’s in the textbook, or it has been assigned, or your teacher demonstrated in on the board, but you do them because you want to see what happens. There is a point where you become creative just for the sake of it, you write some code not just to accomplish some goal but to see how everything works together.

I have to say, I’m doing my first real rails project and this isn’t something I have experience in at all, or too much background. I worked my way through The Rails Tutorial, but honestly that was just a slog, mostly copying things down, I don’t think I absorbed all that much.

Last week was the first time I really got to Play.

Coding as play is really important, because I think for many of us, at least, it was playing with computers that got us into computers in the first place. It’s messing around with functions and seeing just what your computer can do that makes us fall in love with code. That’s worthwhile I think. Yes, of course there are people who program just to earn a paycheck and go home, and there is nothing wrong with that. But for me, code is something I love.

The first time, I wasn’t in love with rails. I think this is because I was hurried, and honestly was just trying to get through the tutorial as fast as possible so I had one less thing on my list.

This is a terrible way to do anything.

This past week though, I’ve been building app with Ruby on Rails, and despite the fast pace there is still enough time to slow down, appreciate things, and play. Most of what we’re doing is just database management, SQL and active record, but I mean, I got to play with data. I got to watch what happens if I build a database similar to the social media networks we use all the time. I got to add clauses into all my objects to delete each other and watch everything implode.

In short, I got to have fun.

I did things for the hell of it, I play with things just to see what would happen.

So yes, I can fall in love with Rails I think, as I’m fallen for Ruby and Python and C++, because solving problems like these is so damn enjoyable I want to just do it forever.

Oh, and by the way, I moved to San Francisco California just now and my entire life is different, but that’s another story for another time.


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