Learning through metaphors

Hi, I’m Tanira, product designer here at Crafters. Today I read a great story that made me learn some things about gemsets, gemfiles, rvm and bundler. It’s much easier to learn complex things through metaphors.

Now, I’ve used them before, but without really understanding what they do. Most of the time I was just following commands and complaining about how setting up the project can be tricky for me. I mean, I want to say to my screen “run project” and tcharam!, you know? But we’re not quite there yet.

I need to get products working and running on my local Rails ambient and it often involves asking for help to do it — it probably won’t stop, but now I have a better clue of what I’m doing. Felipe told us a little story that starts with:

“Each project has a box with gems, the Gemset. There is one per ruby version (like a shelf) – so we organize the boxes in shelves…

Then, we have a tool called RVM that can organize these boxes (Gemsets) to us. We tested other tools and it didn’t work that well, so RVM is our guy…

To fill up those boxes (Gemsets) we use very specific gem versions. So we have a shopping list to organize that for us: the Gemfile. Everything we need for the project is there. Each project has it’s own Gemfile

Bundler is the deliverer for our shopping list (Gemfile). It picks the gems and put on the current box. There we go, we have everything we need in the project and everyone’s local ambients are the same…

…Everyone lived happily ever after, the end.”

Comparing new concepts to everyday stuff makes it much more easy to understand. Let’s improve learning using metaphors – they are great to understand complex things. We use it for our products too, they allow people to tackle the details on demand, without loosing the broad vision of the product.

Do you have any learning metaphor stories to share with us? Let’s keep sharing and learning!