Canada On Rails

We’re back from the Canada On Rails conference in Vancouver.

Ben and I had some great discussions and brain-storming ideas on the way home… more on that later.

I didn’t do enough networking but I still got to talk to great people, met some core Rails team members and a bunch of other “scary smart” types. People came from all over the world for this conference and that was probably the coolest aspect. The talks were interesting but they were mostly summarizing of blog posts. Most of the talks were pretty funny.

Oh yah – and it was LONG… the first day was 12 hours with 300+ people in a room that felt just like economy class on United. The second day was a bit easier – only 10 hours.

David Hannson, the guy who created rails, had one of the funnier slides when talking about how to deal with detractors, nay-sayers, etc. sometimes you just have to say:

fuck you

More images from the conference are in this flickr group

One big surprise was the sheer number of Macs. I’ve never seen so many Macs outside of a photoshop/design house. I’m definitely getting one for my next computer. Almost all the presentations were done on Macs and man were they cool.

Sebastian (a presenter and future Google employ from Germany and a great guy) snapped this shot when he asked everyone to hold up their Macs.

Mac on Rails

So – what’d you miss… here’s a quick summary:

  • David Hansson’s talk on where rails is riding next. A great explanation of what will be in the next Rails core and the reasoning for taking somethings out. Very informative and funny (the Fuck You slide)
  • Joe O’Brien’s talk on Service Oriented Architecture with Rails. An unusually realistic look (the rails crowd is largely about web 2.0’ish web dev stuff) at how to “not rewrite everything” and start converting those monster enterprise apps to services that allow you to integrate with rails.
  • Kyle Shank’s presentation on his kick ass IDE for Rails: RadRails. You like Eclipse? You’ll love this.
  • Dave Astels’ talk on Behavior Driven Development, the step after TDD where he drove home the point that TDD isn’t really about testing, “it’s about figuring out what you’re doing before you run off half-cocked to try to do it”.
  • Steven Baker’s talk on Test-Driving the Rails. Similar to the talk above but included lots of cool development he’s doing on RSpec (which currently links to nothing useful… you can google it and read up on it on blogs).
  • David Black’s slightly insane, slightly enlightening talk on “Ruby and the Rails Developer: Break through the programming glass ceiling”. This guy so has a PhD. Comparing programming languages to musical instruments, bashing the piano (you bastard!) but really talk about how beautiful Ruby is and the sort of Zen aspect that a really great programming language brings to the table.
  • Amy Hoy’s talk on “Getting started with ajax on rails” had some great pointers for us newbies. And, she was one of just 5 women at the conference of 300+. Great presentation! Made me really want to learn more about RJS (ruby javascript) which auto-generates javascript for you and looks absolutely kick ass.
  • Alex Bunardzic’s absolutely insane rant/presentation on the Zen of Ruby and how it’s a first step in opening up a simple conversation between humans and computers. I got where he was going with this, it was very Zen, but very crazy. I loved it.
  • Thomas Fuchs’ presentation on Advanced Rails AJAX techniques was great. This guy is brilliant and the creator of (which I use all the time and is something that all web heads should check out). He really dove into more advanced RJS techniques and demo’d his very cool Fluxiom app, soon to be released.
  • James Adam’s presentation on “Engines: Team Development with Rails” was a great introduction, with lot’s of humor, to Engines in Rails. Great talk, definitely my favorite of the conference… learned a lot from this and it cleared up a lot of my concerns about how to handle code libraries in Rails and how that re-use concept integrates with the convention-over-configuration philosophy of Rails.
  • Geoffrey Grosenbach’s presentation on Gruff – graphing for rails. He’s local to Seattle.
  • Robby Russel’s presentation on “Sneaking Rails Into the Legacy System” offered some insight on how to work with non-Rails-convention DBs. Rails still has a LONG way to go if it ever wants to have even the slightest hope of working with the Fortune 500 database set. This will probably never happen since that’s not what Rails is all about. Robby was a great guy… spent sometime talking to him at dinner the first night. He’s down in Portland running Planet Argon
  • Jeremy Voorhis’ presentation on Internationalizing Rails… I think this guy has a fair amount to learn about how the translation world works but his tools for I18N and L10N looked like a great start to making this super simple to do in Rails. He works with Robby at Planet Argon.
  • Sebastian Kanthak’s presentation on “Pluggin in with FileColumn” was a cool overview of his file-upload pluggin and demo’d some great architecture ideas and clean integrations with RMagic (Image Magic for Ruby). Spent sometime talking with him… great guy from Frankfurt who’s talking a job at Google soon.
  • Michael Buffington did a great talk on “Using Ruby on Rails to Make a Massive Multiplayer Game”. His really nice, no flash Roll On game might not be Massively Multy player (spiked at 1500 users) but it was really funny talk full of ideas and advise for running a game site community on Rails.

Other things I learned… I confirmed my suspicion that Rails is a pig and, dream on, if you think it’ll ever work very well on shared hosting (which is a bummer, since that prices hosting right out the window for most small projects).