Since 2014, GitHub have been providing students with free access to some tools that enable them to practice in a real world environment. In the moment I'm writing this, there are 107 different offers that you can take advantage of. I've been able to try several of them in the past year. Which of them are worth the most?
Heroku's free two year dyno
I'm very glad I started messing around with deployments of code and Heroku was a perfect introduction to the matter. Heroku is a Platform as a service that allows you to deploy any server side code such as Node, Ruby or Python from a Git repository, abstracting you from the infrastructure details.
- Heroku offers a free plan dyno: It sleeps after 30 minutes without receiving any request and has limited CPU and memory resources.
- With the GitHub Student Pack offer we got up to 2 years of a free hobby plan, which never sleeps and includes SSL.
Thanks to this, is very easy to host a side project in the cloud with no infrastructure costs for a while.
Infrastructure as a service with Digital Ocean and Azure
Once I was confident with Heroku IaaS such as AWS got my attention. Sadly you can't find Amazon Web Service between the resources provided by this pack, though, you have other alternatives.
Although the IaaS by Microsoft doesn't lack any of the products that you would expect, I didn't find it very beginner friendly at all (so isn't AWS) and I personally struggled to get the code deployments done or to setup a NoSQL database. When I finally could get everything up and running I realized that I had wasted the 100$ free Azure credits somehow.
Even though I've read bad things about this service I found it very straightforward and powerful on demand. It's storage uses the AWS S3 Bucket API (which makes things easier if you want to migrate later to the Amazon platform) and I learnt to setup a Docker Swarm thanks to its Doplets.
- You can get 50$ in credits for Digital Ocean, and even though it's half the offer of Azure, they lasted me much longer.
Free domain: Namecheap, name.com and .tech
A landing page is something that many developers have and a chance to show the world some of your projects or to stand out between candidates for a job offer.
I tried these three providers but I could only made the student offer work with the later.
- You get one .tech domain free for 1 year, I registered alexmenor.tech and had no issues yet.
Get into CI/CD with Travis
Last but not least, learning about code tests and continuous integration/deployment have been a game changer for me. Developing with testing in mind is very beneficial (that's going to be another post) and Travis allows you to test all your code after any push to your repo (between other many things).
- Normally, you can setup Travis for free in any public repository. With this offer you can also use it within private ones while you are a student.
As you know, you learn a lot by getting your hands dirty and I recommend you to take advantage of all this resources to do it with professional tools.
To get any of this, you just have to confirm your school email in GitHub.
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