Code School > Treehouse > Codecademy

Flatiron School / 11 October 2012

The following is a guest post by Adam Jonas and originally appeared on his blog. Adamis currently a student at The Flatiron School. You can learn more about him here, or follow him on twitter here.

*The views expressed herein do not reflect those of The Flatiron School, only those of one of our awesome students.*

Like any n00b, I spent a lot of time learning the skills of programming online. Outside of random YouTube Videos (NewBoston is worth your time), there are three well-known online products– Code SchoolTreehouse, and Codecademy. I’d estimate, I’ve spent around 80 hours on these sites. I don’t know if that is a lot or a little, but I do know that Code School is the clear winner…


(not to be confused with Code Academyexploded on the scene last fall, but really falls short in the usabilitydepartment and error feedback. To be fair, I only have spent time with their JavaScript courses, but it’s hard to past first impressions. Granted, Codecademy is run by a couple of kids and haven’t had the head start that Code School has on its interactive browser, but I found myself more than frustrated going through their lessons. If they spent less time, hammering my inbox with weekly emails and built a better interface, I’d be more likely to take a look at their newly updated and well funded site (I’ve heard they added Ruby lessons). At least for now, Codecademy is FREE. So serious brownie points there.

Treehouse is…

in a word, boring. Thankfully, I was able to guess most of the answers without struggling through the videos. I did spend, however, a portion of the time learning about subjects on the periphery. Their explanations of structs, I/O, and Ruby Core had slipped through the cracks of other beginner Ruby tutorials. I couldn’t get into the humor of Mike the Frog or some of their other movie “rewards,” but I guess that really shouldn’t be the main motivating factor. While others thought it is silly, I like that Jason Seifer is such a goofball. He is the lone source of humor in an overall dry learning experience. Personally, I learn faster by doing and Treehouse falls short here. Though they do sprinkle in a few interactive quizzes, it just isn’t enough. If you are going to financially invent in your learning, I’d save it for…

Code School

in a word: rocks. It has clearly been the best use of my time. The videos are much more in-depth and the interactive browser is the superior to everything else I’ve seen. The Envy Labs Team goes into significantly more detail than their aforementioned competitors. Their material is engaging, challenging, and well thought-out. What I enjoyed most (besides the information of course) is the self-depreciating humor that dots their casts. Cheesy graphics and dedication to a theme, for example Zombie terminology, finds the right balance of hilarious and non-interfering entertainment. When I first took their beginner courses, I grumbled at the level of detail they covered. Now that I picked up a few things, Code School does an amazing job of covering the entire breadth of subjects within a topic. Maybe most importantly, the error feedback is actually useful as are their hints. My sole criticism is that there is a recognizable difference between Gregg Pollack and the others characters. If he could navigate the office politics, Gregg should do all the casts.

Now in my 7th month of my programming career, Avi’s words have more meaning than ever:

“It’s not about learning the syntax. Anyone can learn that. Learning to program is learning how to communicate.” – Avi Flombaum

If you are going to learn the syntax (which we DO need to do), Code School is very much worth it and I’m not the only one who thinks so. But what do I know? Not that much. What do you think?

(Tip to David Baker for the subject.)

5 Tips to "Learn SQL the Hard Way" Previous Post Setting Up a Custom Domain for Your Heroku Octopress Blog Next Post