Ruby DCamp

Youssef Chaker — October 12, 2008 | 0 Comments | Filed in: Community, Conference Tagged: , , , , , , |

Ruby DCamp is the first conference, of any type related to ruby or my recent work with Ruby on Rails, I have attended since graduating from UVa. I have been awaiting this opportunity for a while now because my colleagues at OSC have been raving about the kind of people that will be present. People like Rich Kilmer, Brian Marick, Jeremy McAnally, Lucas Cioffi, David James and many more. Being new to the Ruby community, it is very important to meet the people who are responsible for the development of the Ruby ecosystem.

It was very convenient that the first topic that we discussed on the first day of the conference was the Ruby ecosystem. One of the key points that I got from that discussion was how people got introduced to Ruby through different ways and different circumstances but the majority got in through Rails. But a consensus between the “expert Rubyists” was summed up by one of them in the sentence “Came in for Rails, stayed for Ruby” which indicates that although Rails is the reason why people start learning Ruby, it is in itself not as appealing as Ruby is. This is why during one of the discussions we had, people were interested to find out more about the different technologies out there that leverage Ruby and give the developer the same functionality as Rails such as Merb. It was really cool to get the input of the people at the conference on their experiences with the language and the community itself.

There were two interesting things I want to mention specifically from the first day. The first one is that I found out that I am not as much a beginner as I thought myself to be. I came to this conclusion from the Beginner Talk discussion I listened in on. During that talk, a few people who have been working with Ruby for a long time and one of them even teaching it were giving an outline of the language and mentioning things to look out for. Surprisingly enough, I already had experience with all that stuff unlike a few others who have a lot of experience with other programming languages but are new to Ruby. This was interesting to me because I came in thinking that I was the least knowledgeable person attending RubyDCamp in terms of Ruby and Ruby on Rails, but that was not true (much to my relief). The other thing would have to be the fact of how smart some of the Rubyest at the conference are. I heard all about it from my coworkers but I had to see it for myself to believe it and it was very apparent the moment I observed those people planning to patch ruby gems to add a functionality they figured to be important. This was not just it, as people were mentioning ideas of what needs to be done, one person in particular was already done implementing some things and the best part was how he had it all done before everyone even reached a consensus about it.

Saturday was great in the sense where I got to meet a bunch of new people and get an idea of what kind of projects everyone is working on. Sunday on the other hand was great to get into more detail. The first session I attended was titled “CouchDB hack session” and as the title indicates, it was a session focused on CouchDB. I think it was the most popular session of the morning because there were a lot of talks about it during the first day but most of the people had no idea what it was. It was a good session with a lot of discussion about CouchDB and its uses.

The next session I sat through was a session about SproutCore. I already had an idea of what SproutCore is because I had considered using it to develop one my apps, but ended up not using it. So it was interesting for me to get the perspective of someone who had already used it and also contributed to it. What distinguishes SproutCore is how it is modeled on Rails and allows the developer to use Ruby in development but then generate JavaScript and Json to be deployed once the application is done. This allows developers to keep using Ruby even in environments that limit them such as developing an application for OpenSocial. The main thing I got from this session was some sort of validation that SproutCore is a technology that can be trusted and used, which is a fear that I had because I did not want to develop an application using a new technology that will not be supported in the future, but I learned from the conference that Apple used SproutCore for their MobileMe application and also contributed to the project. This gives me some sort of relief that it will be around in the next few years.

At lunch we started sharing our “ruby experiences” and our “favorite tools” and here’s some of those tools: git-bisect, limelight, hpricot, mechanize, jruby… So if you haven’t heard of these tools before, make sure you do your research!

Oh… and one more thing that I should mention: We at OSC need to do a bit more pair programing!

All in all, it was a great conference and special thanks to Evan Light for organizing the event. Hopefully we will be able to build on this to grow and improve the Ruby community.

Youssef Chaker

Agile and open source software/content enthusiast.

Contact Youssef

0 comments on “Ruby DCamp

  1. I agree with you there, being able to take care of personal business during work hours allows me to focus more on the tasks at hand rather than trying to finish up as quickly as possible just to get out the door. I am much more productive when I can focus completely on my work. After all, we work to live, not the other way around.

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