Rails Code Sample Recommendation

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Rails Code Sample Recommendation

Dan Pickett, Co-Founder at Launch Academy

We recommend to our students at Launch Academy (www.launchacademy.com) that they produce something they’re passionate about.

For some, it’s a nagging problem that they’ve wanted to solve for themselves. Examples from our current cohort include a distraction tracking application and a a responsively designed flash card app that helps you study, For others, it’s around a hobby or something that came up among friends. Someone in our current class is building a restroom finder app for their sister because of a particularly challenging time they had in Maine one weekend :-). For many others, apps originate as startup ideas or to satiate a need they had at their previous job. One student is building a really cool app that puts patients on a stand by list for doctors if there are cancellations.

The common denominator in all of the projects is that there is a story to tell where they’ve found a pain and built an application as a means to heal it. We find it creates a great dialog during the interview process that way.

Our students (Launchers) get particularly hung up if the idea has already been done. Remember the goal: it’s to showcase your coding abilities. Don’t get it confused with building an MVP that you can raise funding for. It doesn’t have to be a revolutionary idea - it just has to provide a challenging opportunity for you to show what you can do.

We call it a “breakable toy” because we aim for it to show a path of development and improvement. Having an interest in the domain is critical, because it encourages you to keep surmounting the technical challenges.

We recommend the following technical components be included:

  • An ER diagram demonstrating an interesting or compelling data model
  • API integration of some kind (can content be syndicated to facebook or twitter? Is there an interesting source of data you can tie in with?)
  • Authentication and authorization
  • Use of well tested service objects or Plain Old Ruby Objects (POROs) to demonstrate an understanding of ruby fundamentals
  • Integration of some interesting third party code like state_machine, simple_form, or JQuery plugins for an appropriate reason
  • A responsive or mobile-first design
  • Some JavaScript that interacts with a JSON endpoint via AJAX (ideally with unit tests)
  • A rich commit history that shows the evolution of the application and your learnings as a developer. Refactor commits are great for this type of thing!