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iOS and Swift at Big Nerd Ranch: Effective Training, No Corners Cut

Josh Dobbin

I have spent the majority of my career as a .NET programmer, working on web and server-side projects, but as the web has evolved and the “mobile first” philosophy has emerged, I have often felt a little out of touch when it came to the mobile world.

It wasn’t that I hadn’t looked at several options for iOS training. I went through courses at Code School and Pluralsight in order to better grasp the fundamentals of building iOS apps, but ultimately I found that I was lacking understanding of some of the core concepts of iOS development. Enter Big Nerd Ranch, thanks to a friend’s recommendation. I decided to attend Big Nerd Ranch’s Beginning iOS with Swift course. I have to admit, I left the bootcamp impressed—and with a whole lot of newfound knowledge.

Beginning iOS with Swift bootcamp

Big Nerd Ranch is Serious About Learning

The course is designed to take an experienced programmer from 0-60 in Swift and iOS in just a week. I went in having never done more than tinker with iOS, and walked out knowing how to create apps from the ground up. I learned what the gotchas are, how to elegantly use Swift’s object-oriented and functional features, and how to understand its type safety and null safety concepts.

The Instructors Know Their Stuff

Not only was the instructor, Matt Mathias, a really good teacher, he had relevant experience in a very new technology. Big Nerd Ranch develops client apps in addition to training, so their teaching staff is constantly refining their knowledge and curriculum based on real-world experience.

A Great Environment for Learning

Callaway Gardens in Georgia is beautiful. It is also fairly removed from things, making it ideal for the seclusion necessary to really learn well. Meals are part of the deal when you enroll, and there are opprotunities to go out and explore, making your stress disappear. It is a very stress-free way to learn a lot. (Just make sure not to eat everything put in front of you—you’ll never finish it all!)

Students Build Apps in Class

Prototyping is part of the bootcamp. As a student, you’ll make a variety of apps that demonstrate the principles you’re learning. I walked away having created several apps, including a new one for my company. Having an engaged instructor with me as I learned and created made the experience go from amazing to Nerdvana.

First-Rate Training Materials

I went home with more than 700 pages of intelligently written reference material assembled in a way that thoroughly demonstrates the many principles taught in the class. And I hear you can buy Big Nerd Ranch books on Amazon!

Alumni Become Part of a Network of Like-Minded Developers

Alumni become part of The Nerd Association, Big Nerd Ranch’s exclusive community of bootcamp graduates and instructors. Being a part of that group means that even after the class, I can still ask questions of my instructors and bounce ideas off of other developers I met.

All in all, Big Nerd Ranch was hands-down the best training I’ve ever been to in my career. Now I just need to find a way to justify the advanced course to my employer. I don’t think that will be hard to do!

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