Rader on Rails

Dispatches from my web development journey.


I’ve completed version 1 of what I suppose is my first ‘real’ Rails app: Refcodes. Source code is here.

I say real because it was born out of an idea all my own. I did have a lot of help along the way, thanks to my Bloc mentor and all sorts of gems and other resources.

The app is called Refcodes, and it’s pretty simple. I noticed I was signed up for all sorts of online courses, like Treehouse and Skillshare, and each of these have referral programs where they provide you with links you can share on social networks. If someone clicks your link, you get some kind of reward (cash back, or some percent off your current subscription), and the person fulfilling the referral gets some kind of award (usually in the form of some kind of discount).

I had posted my referral links on my social networks before, feeling kind of awkward and knowing that no one would click on them. People in my network just aren’t really into learning web development.

At the same time, these companies are getting scores of new students every day. Clearly, there are people who are committed to spending money on these courses.

My hypothesis is this: If you’re going to sign up for a paid online course (or any kind of tech product), and if you knew you could get an easy discount by clicking an accessible referral link, you would claim the discount.

So, I decided to create a simple web app that allows users to post their referral links and view others that have been submitted. My next plan is to softly publicize the app in places where my target market is likely to be. One such place might be Quora. If money is on the line, most people want to make sure that the service is worth it, and Quora has certainly become a place where people ask others for reviews.

I have thoughts for monetization, but I’m going to test out whether anyone actually finds value in such a site before pursuing anything like that.

Whether or not they do, I had fun building it. I used Rails 4, Postgres as my database and Twitter Bootstrap as my design framework. I used RSpec for testing (though I do need to continue studying how to test well).

I’ll be blogging about some of the features and how I implemented them in the coming weeks. In the meantime, let me know your thoughts and what you might like to see in a site like this (or whether you think it’s a garbage idea).