Getting into webapps and Paas:

After my nightmare with installing Ruby on Rails on Windows, I ended up on Heroku. This was my first experience with PaaS, so I was a bit foggy on the details about how everything worked.

I poked around on Heroku a bit, but couldn’t really understand what was going on, even after reading their detailed Getting Started tutorial, so I decided to check out the recommendation of the Web Apps MOOC lecturer,

I found getting started on Nitrous to be a much easier experience. Following their steps, I set up a Ruby box, and within 10 minutes I was starting my first assignment from the MOOC. I also successfully linked that box with my BitBucket account so I could submit the assignments.

As I only have a free account, most of my credits were used up on the Ruby box. The box also shuts down after a period of inactivity, so I have to start it up again when I log in. This was also before they changed their structure, so I’m still on Nitrous Lite, while new users are redirected to Nitrous Pro.

Using gave me a kickstart to learning how to use Git properly, and how to code in the cloud. I learnt a lot about these concepts during the webapps MOOC, and will be sharing some more about it soon.

I also ended up returning to Heroku (I had better luck with the Python tut), as well as dabbling with Google App Engine, but I will get into that a bit later.

Web Application Architectures: Final Recap

This MOOC ended almost 3 months ago, and it took them super long to grade it, but they did.

Web Application Architectures

I got 97.8%, mostly because just by following the videos and retyping the code in the correct files, one could get 100% for the assignments, and the quizzes were not particularly hard either. The lack of an exam also made this a bit easier for me.

I do see why Coursera is now phasing out free certificates. On the other hand, it’s not like the MOOC would have been harder if I had paid for a Verified Certificate. I still did the work.

While I doubt that I will carry on with Ruby on Rails (not really my scene), the other concepts I learned while trying to do this MOOC is far more valuable to me. These include:

  1. Learning to use version control correctly (Github, BitBucket)
  2. Using PaaS (Heroku,, Google App Engine)
  3. The difference between developing a local application vs web application
  4. Security concepts, like when to use SSH etc

As part of a team that provides enterprise GIS solutions, I’m very eager to learn more about networking and the enterprise part, so this MOOC kickstarted me into a series of MOOCs around networking. First up is Princeton’s offering.