What's best and worst about Upcase right now?

My concerns are really around the peer-review concept of trails. The main question that I would like to have an answer to is how does a user know if they should follow the advice of a peer reviewer. If I am a newbie at sass (which I am), I certainly don’t want people following my advice which makes me very reluctant to give any advice at all or I might end up giving the canned advice “Good job buddy” and skip to the next exercise. I am not doing anyone any favors here.

I was in a discussion with a fellow Upcaser and he had an experience where he has a mentor from Thoughtbot who lead him through how they would solve a problem. However comments made on his code by a peer review was in opposition of what the mentor had instructed him to do. So obviously the peer review comments were ignored, but not everyone has that insight to ignore them.

We came up with several options. Thoughtbot solutions provided (mentioned above), some ranking system for reviewers (maybe through up votes), Thoughtbot employee provided reviews (have had a couple of these) or ???.

I guess the core issue is around the credibility of any advice given. If I give bad advice on SO or in any forum, someone is surely going to call me out on it and we are going to have an open discussion about it or at the very least I am going to get down voted.

Wish List

  • Live Coding (or pre-recorded) Sessions (short videos working through a single problem with inside the head of a Thoughtbot employee commentary)
  • A documentary style video/audio podcast on a Thoughtbot project from start to finish (Startup podcast style)




Hi there! I’m Alex, I just subscribed to Upcase today and so far I’m loving the content. I’ve started learning Ruby and Rails in January 2015 and I have a long way to go before I can monetize this skill set, but I feel like I have the resources at my disposal to make that happen given the time.

My one recommendation that I currently have would be to link the associated information/videos for the exercises in the trails, so if one gets lost, the video is a click away and can be easily re-watched as a refresher!

Thanks for everything so far!

@benorenstein Hello!

The Good
I’ve loved coming back every week and seeing what new content is available. Whether its the ‘Trails’ or the Weekly Iteration. I find the new ‘Trails’ are so much better than the original ‘Learn’ versions.

Not so good

Having subscribed since August 2013, there has been a few iterations of the user experience of the site. I actually preferred the original ‘Learn’ layout of the pages (as it was in 2013-2014 before it became Upcase). I do find it incredibly hard to get to the Weekly Iteration from the dashboard landing page. The word ‘Explore’ doesn’t mean much and should be more informative. Every time I login (about once a week), I feel like I have to ‘remember’ the user interface in order to get to the weekly iteration and other sections. Its slightly painful.

Weekly Iteration Content
I feel like there is less Ruby and Rails content in the Weekly Iteration as of late. This maybe a personal preference, but I really enjoyed the earlier videos with more focus on Ruby and Rails. Thats not to say there shouldn’t be Haskell or Swift videos, I just have less interest in these.


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This should be coming soon!

I agree that this needs to be better, and it bugs me. Expect to see steady improvements here.

This is a great question.

I think it’s a good idea to consider code-review feedback to be feedback, rather than suggestions. In other words, take into consideration that at least one other person had an opinion, but weigh their advice against your own judgement.

I’ll admit that’s a bit tougher when you’re new to a topic.

We’re going to move forward with one of your suggestions: highlighting a few “official solutions” for each exercise. I think this will help a good deal. Agreed?

I hear you. We’re on it.

Got it.

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Thank you for responding Ben, I look forward for those improvements. :slight_smile:

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Yes, this would be great.

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Noticed several of my responses on various topics have randomly vanished. I don’t get any notifications or anything, is this Thoughbot staff’s doing? If so, can somebody get in touch with me privately and tell me why?

I can imagine why at least one of them was removed, but there’s no rhyme nor reason to the others. It would be nice to at least get some sort of explanation if a post is deleted so we’re not left in the dark. If I’m doing something wrong then tell me what I’m doing is wrong so I can avoid doing it in the future.

Oh, and another comment on the forums: I updated my gravatar a while back, but it doesn’t look like upcase forums are fully in sync. The avatar shown in the header throughout the site is in sync however, the forums seems to be the one exception.

Unfortunately there’s no way to recover deleted posts, so I can’t look through your history and tell you why something got killed.

I usually message people when I delete things. I have a vague memory of deleting a post that was a lame joke, but I can’t recall if it was you.

I don’t like the new and improved user interface, navigation is too convoluted to sort out. I don’t know what happened to the campfire thingie (did you guys ditch Basecamp or something?). If you guys got rid of that, I think that’s a bad idea.

Hi @Jacqueline

The team started an invite-only Slack channel for users who submit regularly to exercises. I’ve still not got my invite though :cry:

Hi @benorenstein,

The best thing about Upcase is access to the Upcase code base. The ability to see a real project as it’s worked on is priceless. I have the project cloned in Tower app which is a nice interface for git repos. I can read the commit messages and see which files have changed etc. This is good for me because I learn by emulation, duplication, innovation.

I copy, then I do it myself, then I add my original ideas to my own projects.

  • Best

    • Weekly Iterations
    • Cover advanced topics and good practices while also reflecting on realistic constraints.
    • Joe and Ben are an ideal duo. Different personalities that play off each other well.
    • New topics topics continually produced,
    • Trails
      • Diversity of topics.
      • Many fresh topics such as Swift
    • Navigation
      • I can find the Weekly Iteration
      • Clicking on a topic loads a page with relevant Trails and Weekly Iterations.
    • Easy to cancel and resume a subscription. It doesn’t feel things are hidden.
  • Wish List

    • General
    • Some kind of overview of the site. While it’s a simple site and not confusing, a summary of what’s on the site and a brief explanation of what each offering is.
    • Forum
      - It seems to me that clicking the Upcase logo would send me back to the main page.
      - It’s no obvious how to get to the list view of forum topics. Related to the previous point.
      - Shouldn’t be necessary to log into the forum if you are logged into Upcase
      - Not obvious how to find Forum topics I introduced
    • Trails
      • JavaScript?
      • Need an “All Trails” link that goes to /practice
      • Allow a user to navigate to all phases of a Trail without completing an exercise.
      • List of trails shows grey dots to indicate different phases but no idea what each phase represents. More of an issue with a tablet since a user can’t hover.
      • Offer a cookie for completing a Trail. I’m hungry, sorry.
    • Video Tutorials
      • Need new JavaScript videos. Angular would be nice as well as Node.
      • Organized by topic in the list page.
      • URL is /products - trivial but still inconsistent with other product urls

Hi Ben,

Just a quick suggestion. It would be great if I could see which videos I’ve already watched. For example, I started working through the Test-Driven Rails tutorial a few weeks ago, but then work got busy, so I’m just now jumping back in. It would be good to know where I left off in that tutorial - perhaps similar to the progress / timeline on the do-it-yourself type exercises.



As a new subscriber, I really like the code challenges in the trails and the fact you see other users code - it’s great for seeing other (normally better) ways of doing things.

Loving going through all the weekly iterations.

One of the things I would really like though, when in a trail, is a link to videos that may be relevant to the current challenge. I’ve been a member of a couple of other code learning sites recently and whilst the coding exercise feature of upcase is (imho) much better the navigation of the content on the site is nowhere near as clear.

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I agree with @Esop1; I’ve spent hours in the upcase code base. Even found some bugs / leftover methods that aren’t used. Makes me feel good to see thoughtbot make mistakes. :slight_smile:

But the test suite, the helper methods, etc. Absorbing those patterns has really helped.