Flashcards for developers: LearnShortcuts.dev

#1

Hi all - I launched LearnShortcuts.dev yesterday to scratch an itch I think I share with a lot of other developers: the ongoing painful need to learn keyboard shortcuts, terminal commands, and syntax.

Background: All of my working career I’ve envied other developers who somehow had managed to memorize and utilize every single keyboard shortcut their editors offered. Starting with Textmate, then moving on to Sublime Text, and now Atom and Visual Studio, there are hundreds of shortcuts that transform the code writing experience. Or take terminal commands: I know git, GitHub, Rails shortcuts, Linux commands, but I would find myself constantly googling to find exactly what I need.

LearnShortcuts lets you pick from Sets - CSS Selectors, Atom Shortcuts, Heroku Commands, and presently 5 other sets. Each time you open LearnShortcuts on your desktop or phone, you review 6 Cards from your Sets.

These cards focus on what you are trying to learn, showing the actual keys you need to press, or what commands you need to type into your terminal or code into your IDE. You rate your knowledge of each card - you know it (green), sort of know it (yellow) or don’t know it (red). A typical review takes under 10 minutes.

So what’s the value here? Spaced repetition moves what you don’t know into your long term memory, bit by bit, card by card. Metrics (and a fair bit of coding) means you’ll mostly review what you don’t know, with a scattering of known cards that need to be reinforced. Points make it easy to compare how you did this week with the week before.

The “secret sauce” is no secret: spaced repetition and association work. LearnShortcuts takes care of the administration of what you’re trying to learn, and each set is up to date and accurate so you learn current information.

Please have a look at LearnShortcuts.dev, and please suggest what Sets you’d like to see me research and create for you. I’ve designed LearnShortcuts with a minimal bit of marketing so you can try it out immediately, then register and start your free seven-day trial. After that, LearnShortcuts is $9.95/month or less, depending on which subscription you opt for.

I’d really be grateful for any suggestions, marketing ideas or criticisms you’d like to send my way here or at bob.walsh@47hats.com.

1 Like
#2

(Short Verison)
(Long Verison)

#3

Are you saying Bobwalsh needed a TL;DR? I thought his first paragraph was the TL;DR.

#4

I’m a dev and TBH I wouldn’t buy this; it doesn’t address a pain for me. If I use shortcuts or commands with great frequency, that kind of already has the spaced repetition effect built in. If I use them rarely, I wouldn’t want to pay+practice to recall them. I’d just use a cheatsheet (which is what I do currently). Not sure if my feedback is meaningful to you though, since I am a cheapskate.

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#5

I only had 5 minutes yesterday to take a look, and the first thing that jumped at me was the word “Verison” in “How Does it Work” section. A typo.

As for longer feedback, I plan to do it later today.

#6

Thanks all for the feedback: Version is now corrected in LearnShortcuts. I’d add a TL;DR to this post, except when I click the Edit pencil my choices are Abandon or Keep Post.

In any case, let me up the ante here: anyone who provides actual feedback here will get a free license to LearnShortcuts for life. (Offer good until 6/15/2019).

#7

Nothing wrong with being a cheapskate :slight_smile: - thanks for the feedback. Sounds like one feature you’d be interested in being able to make your own cheatsheets. There are sites that will do that; but they tend to be inactive/out of date.

#8

Bobwalsh, what I’m thinking is mainly that this particular issue is not a big enough pain for me, personally, to be worth paying for. I’m giving you the feedback because I think it’s probably useful, even if it’s negative - hopefully you’ll get some positive feedback as well. There may be others who might find it more interesting. My initial thought was that this particular product would help me recall some sysadmin commands which I don’t do frequently enough to remember. However, I don’t see why I’d want to actively spend time learning them.

What I currently do is, basically, I have a giant README file which I use for most of my projects. When I want to do something that I did a few months ago, and I can’t recall the exact syntax, I search in that text file for the keyword that I recall, which gets me back to the command/syntax.

I don’t need a service to help me make a cheatsheet and print it out. I like being able to search my README. My README is actually checked in to version control so I can access it when I’m not at my primary work station, too. So I don’t see this particular issue as a pain point that needs a solution; I have a solution which works for me (so far as I can tell).

#9

Thanks @marya for the feedback; it gives me several ideas. If you’re interested, please go ahead and sign up and I’ll go in and make that a lifetime free account.

#10

Thank you! I feel better! :smiley:

Just like @marya, I also do not see enough value for me to subscribe. I usually learn 3-5-10 most useful for me shortcuts quickly, and then forget about the rest.

Only if a corp made me learn the rest of shortcuts, I’d do that.

Which brings me to the possible pivot. Please bear with me.

Do you know all those support companies? HP Service, CGI, IBM Support something and the such? Their personnel is typically poorly trained. Watching them doing some basic tasks on a screen share during deployment makes me want to pull my hair off - it is clear they only learned 10 essential Unix commands and have no idea of anything else. Same applies to their editing of files with vi, etc.

So it is clear that those companies have to train those folks first, and their training material probably consists of a Notepad file with a few commands listed (I actually have seen such a file).

Those companies would benefit if their employees learn this stuff better - they’ll get quicker execution and fewer mistakes.

So - instead of targeting your service to individual developers, how about to target them to corporate employees in training? Junior folks who just got hired and need to be brought up to speed, quickly and cheaply?

You’d need to be able to generate a report for each of the “courses” so the manager can see that Parbarakhan Vishintonagar has actually learned the basic Unix commands and responded correctly for 95% of the most recent questions. You can also provide a budge to the said user to include into their resume like programmers use to include Brainbench scores.

It would take some wording change (mute “developers”), but I believe we already have some evidence that the developers are a wrong market for this.

#11

Also, the card itself is confusing. The card asks me a question, but what it expects from me?

  • Do I need to enter the answer? Where?
  • Do I just need to mark it as “Know It!” - but how do I check myself? Maybe I don’t know it.

The set name (“Sample Set”) also gets in the way - it looks like a button, while it is not, and it is located where I’d expect to provide the answer, so it gravitationally pulls my mouse and my attention.

The Answer button reads as if it is a suggestion for me to provide the answer, but just shows me the right answer. I’d call this button something else, e.g. “Show Right Answer”, “I Give Up”, or something.

Also, why the popup says “LearnStartups”?

#12

Thats an interesting idea @rfctr, and something to consider. But my chief motivation is to build a tool that helps developers learn. Any suggestions along those lines?

#13

Good feedback! I’ll be making revisions this weekend. The popup is a window of questions, grouped by knowledge state, but there should be something there so that when you click on a state that has no questions it says so. And good feedback re set badge and answer button!

#14

If you are so set in your ways to benefit this particular group(*)… hmm. A hard one, IMHO.

I’d forget about the experienced developers. They (us) can learn the shortcuts or syntax rules for any tool in no time; certainly in less than a month, so there is no point for them to pay, IMHO(**).

That leaves beginners and junior folks.

I’d do two changes:

  1. Refactor prices from subscription to per-package. I assume that a junior dev would use a service like that when they get to learn a new tool/technology in short time; even prepare for interview, maybe. So they’d purchase one package and grind it until they remembered the stuff. Maybe limit the package for 1mo to prevent sharing of same package among the whole population of India.

  2. Make the accounts more company-oriented. The idea is the same - when a new junior dev joins a team, the team lead may assign them a quick up-to-speed course. That implies some reporting, mostly. Not necessary having corp accounts yet(***); just maybe a public unique URL with stats for a given account.

(*) And why do you discriminate against say folks learning Excel functions? They are not developers. They have money (they use Excel, eh!). But they see “developers” in the copy and leave.

I don’t like us developers. We are smug and at the same time clueless about our ignorance.

(**) I was trying to think how would you persuade me (i.e. an experienced developer) to try and use it. I can only imagine a free page “Check and improve your CSS 3 knowledge in 15 minutes” where I go question to question and it shows me where I’m right and where I’m wrong, and gives me the report after.

Paying is another story. After this is all done, the page can ask me to pay, but I most likely will not. :frowning: Not necessary because I’m a cheapskate, but because it takes more time and efforts investment that I feel is justified. If there is a button to pay a small ($1?) amount via Paypal or similar means where I have already logged in - I may pay tho.

But subscription - no way. I can’t see myself doing it. The thing is - I do not learn new tools that often anymore.

(***) The countless schools that teach development/CSS/whatnot skills can have a company account to manage all their students. This can be a wonderful tool to both teach and verify the progress. Makes sense for them to pay.

#15

a business account (one admin, many users) is something I want to add once I have a lot more Sets.

Maybe adding a “Power user track” for Excel functions, shortcuts, etc. would make sense.

Thanks for the feedback!