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Become a Web Development Ninja with Code School

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I've dabbled in a lot of online coding platforms, but never Code School until recently. My first impression of Code School? It's a lot like Team Treehouse.

In this article I'll talk about some of my thoughts on Code School's classes and interface. Then, at the end, I'll compare it to the learning experience at Treehouse.

Topics Taught on Code School

About 95% of Code School's offerings relate to web development directly.

Topics taught include:

They have only one course relating to design (unless you consider CSS and Sass to be design — if so, they have a good amount of courses related to that).

However, most of my personal experience with Code School relates to JavaScript. (Why? Because I have wholeheartedly dedicated myself to JS now — that's why!)

Their JavaScript selections, in my humble opinion, is where they stand out. On the front-endCode School offers classes on Ember, Backbone and Angular.

Moreover, they have courses on server-side frameworks like Node and Express.

And how could I leave out their course on Coffeescript? This is one of the few times I’ve seen a Coffeescript course available online.

Code School Has Screencasts, too

Beyond courses, Code School also has Screencasts. Some are free to everyone, but for others you need a Code School account, just like for their classes.

Their Soup to Bits screencast series is not free, which makes sense, because it’s basically an extension on their courses. For instance, they’ll spend an hour building out an application using Angular. It’s intended to give learners a “real world” approach to using a particular language or framework.

On the other hand, Code TV is a collection of short videos showcasing niche skills/languages/frameworks — over 130 in total at the time of writing. Some are free; others require registration, such as their videos on setting up Bower in your workflow.

The Code School Course Experience

Again, some of their courses are free. While I experimented with several, the one I spent most time on was their jQuery Course. (Which is free to everyone.)

The Technology/Interface

I'm not going to lie — the interface takes getting used to. I was lost at first.

Users are scored based on an intricate point system. Hints cost you points, as do answers, so your score will be lower if you decide to have an answer shown to you.

code school interface

Here’s a breakdown of the interface.

Pros:

  • Access to lesson slides in the interface
  • Answers and hints available (for points)
  • Links to sources, like official documentation, in directions
  • Easy-to-download videos and slides
  • Short videos that don’t demand much time

Cons:

  • Slightly confusing setup
  • No quizzes (con if you like quizzes, pro if you prefer interactive challenges, where you actually get to write code)

Code School vs. Team Treehouse

These two have a lot of similarities…but there are some differences too.

I’ll be honest: I've spent more time learning on Team Treehouse than Code School. 

Nonetheless, these are some things I noticed.

Key Similarities 

  • Suggested learning “paths” to follow
  • Pretty awesome iPad apps (great for my gym sessions)
  • Courses predominantly relate to web development

Differences Between Code School and Team Treehouse

  • Code School founder Gregg Pollack actually teaches courses himself (cool)
  • Unlike Treehouse, Code School has some of their courses available for free. (Like their jQuery and Angular one.)
  • Treehouse has quizzes AND challenges. From what I saw, Code School only has challenges.
  • Code School does not offer classes on starting your own business or similar topics, but Treehouse does. However, because of this, Code School seems to go a bit deeper on some topics (notably HTML/CSS and JavaScript).
  • Treehouse has a much larger course library. Much larger.

Comparing Prices 

Code School is one price: $29 per month. For the fee, you will receive access to all of their content (courses + screencasts) and features.

On the other hand, Team Treehouse offers a basic plan at $25 per month. You can also choose their premium plan for $49 a month; this includes access to talks by industry professionals and other bonus content.

Code School = More JS Classes

Without a doubt, Code School has the stronger emphasis on JavaScript.

At time of writing, here is where Code School clearly stands out from Team Treehouse as far as JS goes:

  • Code School has two backbone.js courses. Treehouse has none.
  • Code School has a course on express.js. Treehouse has none.
  • Code School has a Coffeescript class. Treehouse does not.

Besides those three, however, Treehouse offers most of the same courses that Code School does. As I mentioned above, Treehouse's course library is much larger.

Conclusion: Code School is Great for JS

As always, do your research. Code School could be for you, especially if you want to dive deep into JavaScript libraries and frameworks. (I mean…only recently did Treehouse add an Angular class!)