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Is CodeSchool worth the money?

In this article I will take a look at CodeSchool: how they teach, what you can learn and is it a good investment for you to sign up for CodeSchool? I have no relation with the developers and the instructors at CodeSchool so this article contains only my opinion and my experience. I have a paid membership.

Some words about CodeSchool

If you do not know already, CodeSchool is an on-line learning platform specialized in teaching programming / software development.

Their key focus is on JavaScript (Ember.js, AngularJS, CoffeeScript, plain old JavaScript) but they have some other learning paths too like Ruby or Git.

For every course you have videos and challenges based on the concepts you’ve learned from the videos. The challenges are small code development exercises done in the web browser in an interactive shell / editor. So you can get the results right after submitting the code — and you do not have to create a whole application to get the results, you only need to apply the code sniplets for the actual section.

Beside lessons and courses CodeSchool has some screencasts too where they introduce full-fledged applications like a wrap-up for a course but not as described than a course exercise.

If you complete a part of a course you earn a badge. When completing a whole course you get another badge — and you can add it to your LinkedIn profile. This is a good thing nowadays if you look for job opportunities through LinkedIn (or you wait for the perfect job to show up). The badge icon itself is not displayed but I guess this is not so important.

Free membership

You can start with a basic, free membership: you only have to register, no credit card or other payment information is needed. And after registration you can start right away to lear — because CodeSchool offers free courses.

Not too many free courses although, but it is better than nothing. With these free courses you can get a feeling of how the learning goes with this site.

Among other courses CodeSchool offers free introductory courses for GIT and AngularJS. So if you are new to GIT or AngularJS you can learn something useful for free.

Naturally there are some screencasts too for free — however not many.

I think it is a good option to have courses for free.

Paid membership

If you are done with all courses and want to learn more than these basic introductions you have to pay for your membership.

If you pay, you have access to every course and screencast. This is decent. And this is the only difference to the free membership.

If I may suggest you something: I would wait for a good offer from CodeSchool. For example I’ve bought my membership for 50% off with a Black Friday deal. With a normal pricing you would be slightly over $30/month with a yearly subscription. And with this you can get such knowledge which pays itself off in short amount of time.

Suspending membership

This feature is very important.

Your subscription runs forever if you do not suspend it. For example you buy a three-months subscription you will be billed again after the end of these three months.

However you can suspend the subscription — but this does not mean that you can take a break from learning two month long and come back after a month and continue with the last month of your subscription.

If you suspend your subscription you won’t be billed again until this pediod of time does not run out. So if you have a three month subscription and suspend it for a month then the suspended time starts after the last month — and you will be billed again in two months.

Fortunately there is a “Suspend forever”. In this case you won’t be billed again. I am using this option after one year of learning. I’ve watched every lesson I could, completed every course. I would say I’ve got the maximum out of my money.

My opinion about CodeSchool

CodeSchool is a nice site for learning programming concepts and new technologies — which are common in website development. Naturally this is because you have an interactive shell where you can test your knowledge. For Java it is not easy because you would need a compiler which compiles your files and reports the errors, then you need to run the code in the back and verify the results… Yes, it is a big overhead. JavaScript and Python is easier.

However I have some negative impressions in this site:

  • Every course has its own layout and design. I would appreciate if I could see every course with the same look and feel: currently you have some courses where you can look at the slides under the console / input field, some where you have to switch tabs to look at the slides, and again others there the slides are displayed on the right side beside the input area.
  • No big project at the end two wrap up a course. I would like to have a bigger project where the knowledge of the course is wrapped up. The “Soups to bits” screencasts are good, however I’d like to have a project description (eventually like the challenge descriptions: step-by-step instructions how to solve them) without a provided GitHub project where lazy people can look at if they get stuck. Yeah, this would be a big overhead and extra work, however I think paid membership could include something like this beside the courses and screencasts.
  • Some courses are not accessible behind our proxy. I know this is really a personal problem however I’d like to do some challenges even at working hours (for example in my lunch-break) and it is a bit bad that the courses do not load (mostly because some JavaScript errors or blocked URLs).
  • Sometimes error messages are not clear. Mostly I encountered this problem during the Backbone.js course. I’ve got syntax errors without even knowing what the error was. This was frustrating — and I’ve had to buy hints. And at the end I’ve had to realize that the PDF slides are buggy too because they are missing a comma — and this was the cause of the parse errors.


Beside these negative impressions I am happy with my paid membership and I risk to say that CodeSchool is worth the money you pay. However I would not invest into a very-long-time subscription now because you can go through every course very fast if you have a lot time of your own (I have a 1-2 day/course speed — as an expert developer with over 12 years of experience behind me).

So if you plan to spend money on the courses: do it once and go for all the courses you want to get. Do not waste time and money for long-term memberships. Currently the site is not so well done to invest a lot of money in there.

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Senior developer, consultant, author, mentor, apprentice. I love to share my knowledge and insights what I achieve through my daily work which is not trivial -- at least not for me.

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