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All Coding Courses on boot.dev Are Now Free to Audit

By Lane Wagner on Mar 15, 2021

Last weekend I did a major revamp of boot.dev’s payment strategy, after toying with the first version since I launched in the summer of 2020, as it turns out, the microtransaction (gem) strategy didn’t work out to the benefit of my students, nor to the growth of boot.dev. As a result, I’ve flipped my funding strategy on its head and decided to make all of boot.dev’s content free to audit. Let’s take a look at exactly what that means.

What is Boot.dev?

If you don’t know already, boot.dev is a code-in-the-browser computer science program. A few of the goals I had when I started building it out were:

All of these were problems for my wife when I told her, “you don’t need to go back to school, you can learn online!”. She had problems just knowing where to start with popular course marketplaces and certainly couldn’t put together her own curriculum.

Learn Go by writing Go code

I'm a senior engineer learning Go, and the pace of Boot.dev's Go Mastery courses has been perfect for me. The diverse community in Discord makes the weekly workshops a blast, and other members are quick to help out with detailed answers and explanations.

- Daniel Gerep from Cassia, Brasil

Free computer science courses

Boot.dev now works on a subscription model with a very permissive free tier. With the free plan, you can work through entire courses, you just aren’t able to verify your answers without supporting the project. In other words, you can read all the content and execute the code in a sandbox, you’ll just have to decide for yourself when you feel like you’ve mastered a concept.

I like this plan for now for several reasons. Before, since I was charging for courses themselves, my free users would just get a 7-question demo for free, which is practically useless if you can’t afford to spend any money. Now I feel like the free tier is quite a bit more useful, and I hope my free users will still support the project by following boot.dev on social, sharing my blog posts, and telling others about the platform.

That said, I think for those that can spare a few bucks a month, the pro plan will be well worth it. Getting instant verification on answers will save students a ton of time, and the ability to take the quizzes will reinforce concepts learned. At this point, certifications are also only available to pro students simply because they’re the only ones that can prove completion, so if you need proof-of-completion for employment purposes you’ll want to seriously consider upgrading.

For just a cup of coffee…

If you supported every open-source project and indie hacker product on the basis of it only costing “the price of your daily coffee” you’d run out of money pretty quickly. Personally, I make my own coffee for $0.20. That said, one of the biggest goals of boot.dev is to provide the user experience, certifications, and interactivity that open lectures from Stanford and Harvard are missing while keeping costs well below that of university or boot camp tuition.

The full CS curriculum is a work-in-progress, though I have a tentative roadmap put together. It’ll take more students supporting the project and more late-nights for me to make it happen! We can get there, even with my 6-week-old daughter making free-time a fleeting luxury.

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