03Aug
2008

Ruby Nation: Day 2 Wrap Up

by Justin Spradlin

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Opening Keynote - Rich Kilmer

Rich Kilmer's opening keynote was by far the best presentation of the day. Rich is an incredibly experienced and skilled Ruby developer who was one of the earlier adopters of the language. During his keynote, Rich walked through his experiences with Ruby dating all the way back to 2001. He has certainly worked on some interesting projects for impressive government agencies including DARPA and the United State Air Force. Rich also talked about projects he has created for the Ruby community including FreeRIDE - a Ruby IDE and RubyForge - a code repository for Ruby projects.

One particularly interesting thing Rich mentioned was that Ruby is becoming a mainstream language. I personally find this both exciting and scary. It is exciting that the community is growing at that there will likely be more opportunities to work on Ruby projects professionally, but it is a bit worrisome that the community could start to be overpopulated with run-of-the-mill developers transitioning from other dying mainstream languages.

Ruby Puzzlers - Mike Furr

Mike Furr, a doctoral student at UMCP, gave a presentation on edge case scenarios that occur in the Ruby language. Since I'm pretty new to Ruby I struggled to follow along, but Mike did do a good job of explaining how Ruby code reacted under various situations. Even though it can be rare to deal with edge cases in a language, it is nice to know how to avoid them or work your way out of them if they do arise.

Practical JRuby - David Keener

A Java(ish) presentation at a Ruby conference? It may seem a bit strange at first, but it actually makes a lot of sense. Java as a platform has some pretty rock solid features including performance, garbage collection, and concurrency. A lot time and thought has also been invested into Java libraries and corporate infrastructure so in many ways it makes sense to take advantage of what is already available. David Keener hit on all of these points in his presentation and gave an example of how to integrate JRuby with the JFreeChart Java library.

Tools for Your Ruby Toolbox - Dave Bock

Dave Bock is another FGM employee that I had the pleasure of working with a few years back. Dave has since moved on and started his own shop called Codesherpas. In his presentation, Dave talked about 3 lightweight tools that can be used to quickly accomplish tasks in Ruby. Dave first talked about StaticMatic, a framework for developing simple static websites using templates, but without using all of the built in functionality of Rails. Another web framework Dave talked about was Sinatra. Again, this framework allows developers to create simple web applications without the full Rails stack, but it also includes some RESTful functionality. Finally, Dave talked about GServer, a generic server library that allows developers to easily create server applications of their own. During his presentation Dave demoed a quick "Knock Knock" client he created using the GServer library.

Lightning Talks

There were five lightening talks given yesterday, but again Bryan Liles stole the show with his presentation on Project Management. The basic takeaway: meet with your reports regularly, project confidence, and set up processes that are easy to follow. Sounds so simple doesn't it?

Closing Keynote: Bad Ruby - Stuart Halloway

Stuart Holloway closed RubyNation with a talk on Bad Ruby. Playing off of a point made earlier in Rich Kilmer's talk about Ruby becoming mainstream, Stuart noted that now was the time for Ruby developers to begin to establish best practices for the language so that common pitfalls can be avoided when mainstream developers start to migrate to Ruby. (Assuming of course "mainstream" developers actually migrate to Ruby).

Conference Wrap Up

Overall the conference was pretty great. Day two was a little less energetic than day one, but that may not be too surprising seeing as how it was on a Saturday. I was a little disappointed that Bruce Tate wasn't able to make the conference because I was really looking forward to hearing him speak, but I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the other speakers. I know that a lot of people put a lot of hard work into the conference so I'd personally like to thank everyone responsible for putting on this years conference and I can't wait to attend again next year.

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