Learning to Program My Advice as a Mentor

I recently started to mentor a young friend that is interested in transitioning from a skill-less office worker to future web developer. She's re-orienting herself with html and css for now. In the next few weeks, she'll start to learn how to code. My built-in language bias will no doubt steer her training towards subjects I'm already proficient with. I am primarily a python/django web developer so there is a very strong possibility that she will learn python and django first. Being keenly aware of my own bias I've been strongly considering recommend she learn ruby and ruby on rails. The Rails community is very active, growning, and seems to be one of the largest communities of web developers. Based off my own job searches, there also seems to be many more job postings for Rails developers than Django. Here's my oversimplified summary of popular web dev langages much as I explained it to her.
  • Java & .Net == Large Enterprises. Overly complex for the task at hand.
  • PHP == Awesome Open Source tool. No dominate web framework. ¬†PHP's best days are probably behind it.
  • Ruby on Rails and Django == Modern Open Source web frameworks. Rapid development. Large active communities. Very little friction for improving the underlying tools.
We talked for a long time about the advantages and disadvantages of the different languages, employers, and work styles. We concluded that it probably made more sense for her to work towards  becoming web developer with Open Source tools. But I still wanted to make sure I wasn't pointing her in a bad direction. Django web development works for me but I didn't want to make that assumption for her blindly.
I've made a commitment to myself to expose her to other languages and show her the other options available. I plan to dig into the major differences between django and rails in a later post.


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