Beeminder ♥ Code School

Tuesday, February 11, 2014
By dreeves

The infinibee with a thought bubble with the Code School logo in it

We’re pretty over the moon for Code School and very proud to announce this partnership. The Code School folks are announcing it simultaneously on the Code School blog as well. Since many or most of you are here directly from Code School with no previous exposure to Beeminder, we’re starting with a recap. It’s borrowed from when we wrote a similar, if more one-sided, announcement of our GitHub integration. For Beeminder regulars who don’t already know about Code School, we summarize that as well. If you’re already sold on Beeminder and Code School separately, dive in and start using them together.

Beeminder Reprise

For the full Beeminder story, you could start with our inaugural blog post about akrasia and self-binding, a.k.a. commitment devices. If you know all about commitment devices — perhaps you know one of our competitors like StickK or GymPact — but don’t know what’s special about Beeminder, the secret is that we combine Quantified Self with commitment contracts. That means that (1) if you’re a lifehacking data nerd you’re going to adore us to pieces and (2) you can make commitment contracts that are based on data and much more flexible than with something like StickK.

If you don’t know anything about commitment devices, it works like this with Beeminder: We plot your progress along a Yellow Brick Road to your goal and if you go off track, we charge you money. Long-time Beeminder users find that those stings (get it?) are well worth it for all the awesomeness we induce the rest of the time. But if the thought of having to pay money is too scary, that’s perfect: you’ll be very motivated to keep all your datapoints on your yellow brick road. We don’t even ask for a credit card until the first time you go off track.

The big picture is that Beeminder helps you stick to things that would otherwise get trampled underfoot by the rest of your life. This is particularly true of activities that have a learning curve or some other kind of dip that you need help pushing through.

Code School

“It’s so fun that beeminding your progress through Code School almost seems superfluous.”

Which brings us to Code School. Code School is one of the most fun [1] ways to learn to code. They cover myriad technologies for full-stack web developers and beyond — Ruby, Javascript, Git, iOS, you name it. And they’re adding more all the time. I personally first got up to speed on Ruby on Rails in 2011 thanks to Code School’s Rails for Zombies. Their philosophy is “learn by doing” and they make it so fun that beeminding your progress through Code School almost seems superfluous.

But of course learning new things is still hard. Unless you make it your day job by becoming a full-time student it’s always going to be in danger of being crowded out. Unless you hard-commit to making steady progress.

Hackers in particular tend to love Beeminder for hard-committing to getting code out the door. A year ago we announced our GitHub integration, Gitminder. That allows you to commit to keep committing code or closing issues. Before that we added Trello integration, which many programmers use to ensure inexorable forward progress on their projects.

Today we’re excited to announce our partnership with Code School so you can commit to steady progress on learning new superpowers.

Dive In

So far there’s exactly one thing you can (automatically) beemind on Code School: number of Code School points. You earn Code School points for every question you complete, approximately 250 points per question. Lessons are typically 6-8 sections of 3-10 questions each, so at least 5,000 points. If you want to be certain to complete, say, one lesson each week, then you’d enter 5000 in the Beeminder Code School wizard. The only catch is that since we look at your report card, you’ll have to make that public. [2]

We mentioned that Beeminder is especially flexible. What if you find that 5,000 points per week is too hard, or too easy? Simply adjust the steepness of the yellow brick road at any time using the Road Dial below your graph. Any changes you make take a week to take effect so you can change your mind about what you’ve committed to but you can’t change it out of laziness (unless you’re particularly forward-thinking about your laziness). You can also schedule vacations or, if you’re feeling particularly ambitious, throw away any excess safety buffer you may have accumulated getting ahead of your yellow brick road.

Beeminder will automatically update your graph from Code School, so once it’s set up, just keep gobbling up Code School points as usual. The Beeminder email/sms bot (or smartphone app) will warn you if you’re veering off the yellow brick road.

Create a Code School goal


 

Footnotes

[1] We’re friends with founders of two other startups that are, very broadly speaking, competitors of Code School and we think all three are amazing and worth checking out. If you’re into role-playing games, CodeCombat teaches you Javascript by having you write scripts to control a character, slaying ogres to fight your way through ever more difficult, and sometimes hilarious, levels. But if you really want to pull out all the stops — and if you can spend 12 weeks in New York City — we can personally vouch for the awesomeness of Fullstack Academy of Code. Of course, Code School, CodeCombat, and Fullstack Academy are all fans of each other too, and you could well want to use all three.

[2] If you want to beemind your Code School progress but don’t want to make your Code School report card public, let us know. Not that we have a solution yet, but we could oauth this puppy if there’s enough demand for that. Personally we think just making your report card public is a perfect solution, but we’re gluttons for every possible commitment device, including public accountability.


 

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