So we went to the Ruby Fools conference here in Copenhagen and this post kind of sums up my experience of the different speakers. The conference went over two days and had three tracks. I primarily focused on the Advanced Rails stuff. I’ll probably update this post once you can download the presentation slides (and video).
Dave Thomas explained in his opening keynote why he is a Ruby Fool :). He’s gave a great performance about his passion for Ruby and went on to compare the sudden rush of developers coming to the platform with Rails to “golddiggers and prostitutes” (before Ruby was this nice little settlement, and suddenly everyone wanted to join). That of course hit pretty much 80% of the people sitting in on the keynote. Great stuff :D.
REST: A pragmatic introduction to the Web’s architecture by Stefan Tilkov. While REST is not that new to us, and the speak therefore didn’t provide much to us, Stefan was great to talk with and I threw a few ideas on him about some of our challenges with REST (like, what do you do when you’re implementing a dashboard with some functionality also found in other places of the system – expect a new blog post on this).
Tuning the Rails stack by James Cox. Since tuning involves turning alot of knobs al over, this is not an exact science, but he did give som nice pointers on e.g. MySQL tuning and also told a few scary stories on applications that didn’t scale. On a side note, he had the coolest presentation slides (well, not really slides, I think he said it was a flash movie :))
Advanced Ruby on Rails security by Heiko Webers. I’m having my doubts on what to write here. Let me first say that the content of the presentation was great and very “german”. It was “Do this/Don’t do this”. Great stuff. No room for interpretation and once the slides are downloadable I’ll probably run through every slide while looking on our own TBA application :). Unfortunately Heiko wasn’t the great presenter and while the slides was clear, he pretty much just read them out loud, but was in trouble whenever he had to explain something that wasn’t on them.
Meta-meta programming by Nic Williams – man I love this guy.
1) The presentation was close to useless when looking at the use cases where this can be applied.
2) The subject was VERY technical
And yet… This was perhaps one of the greatest presentations due to the amount of humor and general relaxed style of Nic. Basically everyone knows meta programming, so meta-meta programming was the meta programming of meta programming. The easiest explained example in rails terms is a generator that generates generators (as I said… Not the most common use case :))
Party keynote by Evan Phoenix. A couple of sponsors had provided food and beverages so of course there was a “party keynote” (Dave Thomas wanted to swap keynote with Evan :)). While I have a great respect for Evan, the keynote was close to “not relevant at all” to me. He basically explained how he does project management on the open source project Rubinius. I’ve haven’t been in a open source project before, but what he presented was pretty much “be nice and positive to people”. There was some debate about the policy on the project that once you committed your first patch you get full commit access to the project. While it certainly works for him, I’m still having my doubts.
Keynote: Ruby: Past, Present and Future by Yukihiro “Matz” Matsumoto. This whas great to here it from the creator himself. There weren’t many surprises about Ruby it self, but it was great to hear about what his thoughts was on other languages and why he then went on to create Ruby. The future part was a bit cutted off because he spent a little too long bitching about character encoding (UTF-8,16,32). It was clearly something that he’s spent a lot of time on with the 1.9 release.
Versioning your data model by Ole Friis Østergaard. The presentation explained 4-5 different plugins that had something to do with versioning (also an undo redo plugin that actually looks rather nice) – including his own new plugin Subversive. I kind of noted that this was actually one of the first presentations that actually showed “real live code”.
Adding full text search to your Rails application by Jørgen Erichsen. We’re currently also implementing the search enginge Solr into our own application so this presentation was a must see. While Jørgen went through the basics of the search engine and the acts_as_solr plugin (as well as Ferret and also briefly mentioned a couple of other solutions), he didn’t seem that knowledgeable about the subject when getting to stuff outside the basic behavior of the product.
The dark art of developing plugins by James Adam. This was great. James presentation was very pedagogical buildig a plugin step by step explaining every bit of the way. While plugin development aren’t that difficult to grap, it certainly put one or two thing in place for me. I’m looking forwards to his slides so I can wrap our authorization for our application up in a plugin.
After this I unfortunely had to leave because of another engangement. So I missed one speaker as well as the ending panel discussion.
Overall the conference was well planned and executed. You could perhaps argue that it is limited what you will learn in one hour presentations, but I could just have attended the workshops leading up to the conference. As a last note… The track introductions seemed a bit off = 30 minutes break – 15 minutes track introduction – 15 minutes break (though Glenn Vanderburg was quite good.