Posted on Oct 18, 2008

My impressions from Rails Summit LA 2008

For those that don’t want to read all the post: it was a blast!

I’ll try to generate an image of all the wonderful experiences I had during this trip.

First I’ll like to thank Fabio and the people from Locaweb from making this happen.

Even for a first conference the attendance not only was really high, but included something that is really hard to make it happen: simultaneously translation.

All the english-spoken talks were translated to portuguese and spanish, which opened the door for people ask questions, most of them really good.

Chad Fowler (twitt)

With his opening he gave a really inspiring talk on how to be remarkable. He presented us how his musical background and taste influenced how he evolved to became what he is now. I really enjoyed it (most specially his references to games like Mario Bros, Lemmings and Doom) :D

Was a real pleasure for me meet Chad in person and had the opportunity to talk about programming languages, VM, nostalgia about BeOS and real life (he agrees with me that I’m crazy). ;-)

He was surprised that mongrel_service is written in something like FreeBASIC, even more that FreeBASIC self-parses, is cross-platform and was created in Brazil :-)

Dr. Nic (twitt)

He gave a really intensive and hilarious talk on how to give back, how to support, how to contribute, how you should not keep secrets (got me on that). His english was a bit fast and gave the translators a really hard time, but then he slowed down and paced down (well, not too much).

His words about One-Click Installer were really encouraging and his continuous sense of humor, in or outside the stage keep you smiling all the time.

Jay Fields (twitt)

He did a wonderful job with his presentation. Even we disagree on some items, I believe that complete coverage, test ratio and thousands of tests will not fix broken software or will not show maturity and quality, only making hard for you to keep and maintain the whole beast. Immaturity of Testing… nice name ;)

The Phusion guys (twitt)

They did a great lightning talk about brainf#ck language and a full presentation the next day. I missed the second (mea culpa: was working on mine at that time) :D

Anyhow, I had the chance to exchange some idea with these guys (very smart, high sense of humor and very aware of the world). We discussed Passenger, dreaded fork(), crappy C code and GC of current Ruby implementation (MRI).

If any of the Ruby VMs candidates evolves, I believe something like mod_tora for NekoVM can be possible for Ruby, getting rid of fork() and make cool stuff for everybody, including Windows ;)

David Chelimsky (twitt)

He did an excellent TDD introduction and jumped to RSpec. His paced talk, nice explanation and simple yet concise slides transformed him in a real teacher. I believe my comments can be a bit biased since I’m a real fan of his and Aslak‘s work.

The second presentation David did is Cucumber, the successor and replacement of Story Runner. He not only showed a practical examples from one of this applications, but also explained concepts from BDD, User Stories and Acceptance criteria. His presentation was really educational and I learned a lot form it.

Besides all that teaching (in and out of stage), David gave me some advices and ideas for building One-Click Installer around Thor, which I proceeded to fork and make it work much better on Windows (you cannot rely on a tool that fails it’s own specs, right?) ;)

Tim Case

A big thanks to Tim, which acts_as_tourist_guide and acts_as_translator for many of us and shared his time hanging out with us (lot of meat in brazilian barbecue, caipirinha, caipiroska and beer :P). Very smart guy with great sense of humor, a real pleasure to meet and socialize with him. I’m taking his hint on Gelaskins very serious. :D

Obie Fernandez (twitt)

Obie did a great closing – like Dr. Nic said – no secrets: with The Hashrocket Way he presented the methodologies that worked at his company and how the managed to have great teams building great applications and how important are human beings over technical and technological aspects.

We enjoyed talking in spanish quite a bit, exchanging life experience and bad words ;-)

Last day at Brazil, sitting in the bar at Holiday Inn lobby, Chad, David, Obie and me:

Luis: Guys, any of you is good with regular expressions?
Chad, David: Obie. (both at same time, pointing fingers at him)

I really suck at Regexp, so thanks to Obie the specs of Thor passes on Windows (see the commit here)

Then needed to run to the airport, I would love spent one more day there at Brazil.

Conclusions

Too many good things happened in the short time of the event just to be described in one post. I really had a great time and different points of view on several topics with Phillipe, Chris, George and many other developers from brazilian community that approached me due the work being done on Mongrel and One-Click Installer. Thank you! :D

Was really great see a few girls in the crowd (I’m not talking about open source morena, ok?), and was really nice meet one of the heads of DevChix at the event. I believe the work of Desi is really important and I’ll encourage any girl that want to get into development get in touch with them.

I’ll like to say that even the cost of registration for the conference by itself was not so expensive in comparison to Ruby/Rails Confs in USA or Europe, transportation costs put some cap on the assistance of developers from other countries like Argentina, Bolivia, Chile or Peru. I believe these issues can be worked out and maybe next year, something bigger can be arranged.

I just missed the possibility to watch the portuguese presentations made in the second track due my lack of understanding of the language, but two from the Lighting talks really catch my attention: GUI-based applications with MVC based on GTK (and cross platform) and another about building extensions and C applications driven by tests (something about Orca?). So if you guys are reading this, please contact me at luislavena (at) gmail.com

I just uploaded the slides from my talk here, too bad I run out of time, tried to do a live session and show Ruby performance across compilers and OS and forgot to put my notebook in performance mode :P

Thanks everybody for their support and stay tuned for more cool stuff! :D

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