Noel Rappin Writes Here

RailsConf 2011

Posted on May 23, 2011 uncategorized

A quick trip report seems like a good way to break up some weird mutant form of writer’s block that has been preventing me from finishing any of the six or so half-written blog posts I have in my queue.

This was my third RailsConf (not 2010, but the two years previous), and it was pretty easily the most fun. I know more people there now, and more people know me, that’s part of it. But there also was a much different vibe than 2009 – for instance, this year there were a lot more companies looking to hire…

Quick notes and impressions:

The best general talk I went to was the backbone.js talk by Matt Kelly. Not only was it well presented, not only did it compare JavaScript to Ke$ha and end with an impromptu screening of the highly weird and silly “Blow” video, but I actually came out of it understanding how backbone works why somebody would use it.

T-shirt score: 5 – Heroku, Engine Yard, Pivotal, Spiceworks, and the official RailsConf shirt. I did briefly have one of the ping-pong-ball burp guns that Engine Yard was handing out, but I left it in my hotel room because a) it didn’t fit in my bag and b) didn’t feel like becoming random TSA fluke guy for the week.

I was pleased with my IgniteRails talk, though I blanked on a line at one point, which made it more repetitive than I wanted. It was a really good set of performances, and a surprising amount of people.

My main talk went well, I thought. When I asked before I started how many people were there because there was nothing better in the time slot, a lot of hands went up. I laughed, and somebody tried to convince me that was a good thing…

As I referenced in my talk, the medical convention on the next floor had some really amazing sounding talks, like “All knees are not created equal: a global perspective.”

I liked David Chelimsky’s talk on duplication, with the idea being that there is more to duplication than just string comparison – true duplication has to do with each piece of information in the system having a single source of truth. David also made the point that sometimes the cost of removing duplication is higher than the cost of keeping it. This led to some interesting discussions of refactoring, clean code, and what is really too much refactoring.

Rails 3.1 release candidate finally came out. I actually like having a home base for SASS templates and CoffeeScript, and I’m looking forward to giving CoffeeScript a real tryout. The rest of the asset pipeline stuff doesn’t thrill me yet, though I’m sure it’ll be useful. There are a couple of other bits and bobs that I’m interested in trying out – it looks like a solid point release.

The reaction to the Steele and Gabriel 50 in 50 keynote was interesting. Some people seemed to really hate it – I’m guessing that it helped to have a little bit of background in programming language history, since Steele and Gabriel were deliberately elliptical in their descriptions. I liked most of it, and was particularly surprised by my own reaction to the Logo bit. As a former edtech research, Logo was always the grail – there was so much hope in that research that doesn’t seem to have quite been replicated.

I really want to thank the 20 or so people who turned up for the testing BoF session at late O’Clock on Wednesday. I thought it was a really great, respectful discussion of issues surrounding getting started with testing, and I enjoyed it very much.

And this happened. You’ll want to go to about the 39:50 mark.

Great week. Thanks to the RailsConf organizers.



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