Hackers need help learning Rails. Not just beginners, but experienced developers making the transition to Rails, and especially people who have completed an introduction and want to take the next step to build real-world web applications. The RailsApps project aims to bridge the gap.
I released the first RailsApps tutorial two years ago. Since then, I’ve created eight example applications with accompanying tutorials and over a dozen in-depth articles helping Rails developers. Over time, the example applications have become more ambitious and the tutorials more detailed. Now I’m going to put the project on a solid footing as a business so it can continue to expand.
I’ve taken the first steps to creating a revenue stream that will support the RailsApps project. This week I’ve launched the RailsApps Tutorials website. I’ve done testing of various offers and found visitors are willing to support the project with a $19 monthly membership fee. Consequently, on the site I’m featuring a Pro Subscription Plan. For $19/month, you too can support the RailsApps project.
Example Applications Are Free
All the example applications remain publicly available in the RailsApps GitHub repository. This is an open source project and dozens of developers have contributed to the example applications, so of course they must remain free. As open source applications, they attract the constant fixes and improvements that keep an open source project alive and growing. This is the project’s first value proposition: to provide a reference implementation of common starter apps that can be a basis for real-world Rails applications. The tutorials $19/month Pro Subscription will help us sustain and expand the repository of example applications; the code itself will remain free.
Tutorials “Bridge the Gap”
Early on, I learned that developers appreciate the project because I write an in-depth tutorial to accompany each example application. There is no “mystery code”; the tutorials show each step needed to build a complete working Rails application and more importantly, explain the implementation decisions behind the code. This is the project’s second value proposition: to bridge the gap between Rails introductions for beginners and the piecemeal advice found on experts’ blogs.
I’ve been told many times, “You should charge for the tutorials!” With the RailsApps Tutorials website, I will. However, I believe that basic tutorials should remain free. The tutorials that help a Rails beginner get started with real-world web programming will be available with a free Hobo Subscription Plan (hoboes ride the rails for free!).
I’m aware that hobbyist and student developers may also need access to the more advanced tutorials (the Premium tutorials) but may not be able to support the project with a monthly membership. Consequently, an inexpensive Student Plan will allow anyone to download any individual Premium tutorial for a $9 one-time fee. I’m hoping that visitors who sample a single tutorial will see the value in purchasing access to the entire collection for $19/month and thus support the project’s ongoing expansion.
Value of Maintenance
I’ve discovered users like the example applications, love the tutorials, but appreciate that the project’s greatest value lies in its ongoing maintenance. Any Rails application or tutorial gets outdated quickly as Rails and its ecosystem of gems go through constant rounds of updates. This is the project’s third value proposition: keeping the example applications and tutorials up-to-date so developers can find a reference to current implementation practices. This is why I started the project. Every time I came back to working with Rails, even after only a few months, things had changed and I needed to see a current implementation. Ultimately, this is the value of the monthly Pro Subscription Plan. Professional developers have shown me they will support a project that provides up-to-date code and tutorials in the ever-changing Rails ecosystem.
Would You Like to Be a Hero?
Based on feedback from developers who work in the corporate world, I’m offering the Hero Subscription Plan. It gives you subscriptions for everyone on a team. In the enterprise it is easier to pay for a yearly subscription than to receive an invoice every month. At $349 a year, the cost for the entire team is less than the cost for two Pro subscriptions. If you’re in a position to make a purchase on your company’s corporate card, please consider supporting the RailsApps project with a purchase of the Hero Plan. You’ll be a hero to everyone on your team and you’ll be a hero by supporting a project that benefits the entire Rails community.
From Hoboes to Heroes
I hope you see the wisdom in monetizing the Premium tutorials as a way to support the growth of the RailsApps project. And I hope you see the value in offering a variety of subscription plans to accommodate all users. So far, in the first days since launch, most of the subscriptions have been for the Hobo Plan. After all, everyone likes something for free. I hope over time, more people will see the long-term value in supporting the project with a Pro Subscription or Hero Subscription.
How about you? Is the project valuable to you? Can you support it with a purchase of a subscription plan? Please let me know — by clicking “Subscribe” on the RailsApps Tutorials website.